“Everyone stumbles over the truth from time to time, but most people just pick themselves up and hurry off as though nothing ever happened.”
Over the years, I have come to note a couple of truths about human behaviour. One is that once we are adults, none of us can be rescued by anyone else. Only we can rescue ourselves. We may not end up with the life we expected, but generally we end up with the life that we make through our daily choices. I realize there are catastrophic accidents and illness that can impact our journey, but even then the way in which we respond to our circumstances has a huge impact on final outcomes.
The financial harm that has befallen people over the past couple of years was no random accident. It was both foreseeable and avoidable. The test now is to see who can acknowledge this truth and use the experience as a source of wisdom to change and inform better choices going forward.
I saw the above quote from Winston Churchill while I was visiting my mom's nursing home this weekend. My mom lives in an Alzheimer’s ward where the residents have now lost their memory and whatever wealth or social status they once enjoyed. It is a sobering and useful insight to visit such a place regularly. One important point of reference for me is to note that there is just 25 years between myself and my mom and many of the other residents. 25 years is a blip in human history; just one standard amortization on a conventional mortgage. Wow. We best get on with living our vision for our life and our legacy.
What I find truly exciting right now is that for the first time in many years, people seem to be engaging in more thought and honest discussion about important issues. It seems that right now, many people are stumbling over truth and stopping to pick it up and toss it around. Crisis has a way of crystallizing insight.
Some exciting positive developments that I see coming out of this mess are:
• A fresh realization that financial “architects”, leverage and debt are not saviours of our brave new world, but the same old demons back from history to haunt us yet again. See Taleb: Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world.
• A realization that hard work and daily focus on building our expertise, profession or business have always been the most reliable source of wealth creation in the world. Blindly tossing our savings at passive investment in other people’s companies is a crap shoot more likely to destroy capital than build it.
• Those that have stubbornly insisted on maintenance of their cartels and a self-serving status quo are toppling. Big oil and big “dumb” automakers are being overtaken by new solutions that will drive the economy, create jobs and resolve pressing issue of our planet.
• Clean, alternative energy and water management are the next big boom areas for the world. And there are many brilliant initiatives already available:
• wind turbines and solar panels can efficiently take our homes off the conventional power grid (without harming birds);
• New innovation being developed to triple the fuel efficiency of regular cars. The race to 100 miles per gallon is now full out and will be achieved in the not
too distant future;
• Huge leaps are being made in fusion technology towards an almost endless supply of clean electricity with virtually no radioactive waste.
Far from doom and gloom, I find this to be one of the most exciting, hopeful times to be alive in all of human history. All of the choices that we make from here will define our future.
Cory’s Chart Corner
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