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  • Writer's pictureJohn Brandy

Simple, But Not Easy

The philosophy that underlies everything that I say, think and do, at least the good things that

I want everyone to know about,

is that What We Say Is Important.

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Of course, what we think is important.

But language is important, too!

The most famous quote around that is something I've said before and will say again, and that is

James Allen's "As A Man Thinketh, So Is He".

Despite that, people, myself included, maybe yourself included, frame things (see what I did there?) in the negative.

Not that long ago I heard a woman speaking on a show. Her approach was talking about the similarities she'd found between meditation and athletics.

This is fine in theory.

It's what she said that bothers me.

She said,

"I believe that physical fitness is important, but you're not going to see me running any half marathons anytime soon."

Since we don't really go for complex explanations, let's break that down into two groups of letters.

"I believe that physical fitness is important".

Hard to disagree with that.

She's making a statement regarding giving a high priority to a particular activity, and she's warding off those who might disagree by saying that it's what she believes.

So far, so good.

What bugs me is the next part of the quote.

"But you're not going to see me running any half-marathons soon," she said.

First of all, there's the basic phenomena of the "but". None of us should ever head a sentence that way. None of us should ever use that word. Not when speaking, and certainly not as an investment strategy.

But the geek English major stuff bears risk, so instead my real peeve is the rest of it.

Why would we not see her running a half-marathon. Soon or later?

"As you think, therefore you are".

This is what the Chief Executive Officer of Investment Management in your brain will say from now on.

There's a podcast out there, one of the 40,000 podcasts that exist in the current landscape as I've said, and in this case one of the 5,000 or so about financial topics, as I've also said.

I mention it here, and not by name (cue the no lawyers thing here) because in the title, before you listen to even a single word of the message, you're pre-conditioned with the idea that doing what they are about to suggest is simple, but it is NOT easy.

How motivating is that?

Now I get that not everything is easy.

And I get that some things are worth doing anyway for a higher calling of some sort.

That's where things like Courage and Sacrifice come from.

That's even where behavioral coaching comes from.

But sometimes we just need easy.

Doesn't matter how important it is.

That doesn't get us doing it.

We need investment convictions.

We need better instructions.

We need a stick, like with Tax Day.

How We Overcome

When it comes to successful investing, you need more than just common sense. Always remember that:

  1. Your investment strategy should always be based on evidence, data and logic

  2. There will always be things to worry about. No risk, no reward

  3. Never make the mistake of confusing strategy with outcome.

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Story Time

Once upon a time, our heroine Kelly Carter sat down to work through two things.

The two things were:

  1. Simple

  2. Easy

It seemed to Kelly that anything which was simple was most probably easy, and anything that was easy was probably simple. Of course, this could be just content selection.

To be fair, she thought, this could be bad thinking.

I mean, if it was good thinking, it wouldn't be possible for something to be simple but not easy.

How would anyone get anyone else to do anything, she thought, and not for the first time out loud.

Good thing for her, she'd recently read the book Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu, and she realized the wisdom of the saying that "The Dalai Lama Would Laugh".

Knowing this, she did something.

She laughed at herself.

This took a ton of pressure off the situation, and it allowed her to focus on the simple part.

The part that made perfect sense.

The doing part.

Like Buffett's famous annual letter to shareholders, in which he goes over the valuation-driven approach among other things, where he uses humor to turn emotional challenges into something more like spring break.

The easy part then took care of itself.

Her epiphany was her realization that once you start doing something about something you control, the whole idea of easy falls away.

If you're doing it, hard or easy is no longer a question.

You realize that may well have just been an excuse to avoid getting started.

I don't mean that things don't need to be easy.

Far from it.

Any method which helps people get started, and I mean ANY method, that's the right method.

Legal department notwithstanding.

I recently heard a similar challenge referred to as "surrounding the football".

The visual picture here is a group of players voluntarily hanging back from a possible fumble recovery while other teammates lead the charge.

The volunteers do this because it puts them in a great place to be if the fumble squirts out in their direction, as it often does.

The purpose of the metaphor, though, is a bit different. In this case, it means actively seeking but not being committed, it means trying all the different ways that might be successful, not just the one I'm advocating.

That way, when it works, you know I wasn't evangelizing "the one right way", because "the one right way" is the one that works for you.

Remember, this is your retirement picture we're talking about. Your assets. Your asset class opportunities.

Kelly saw through the shield of hard and easy. She chose an easy-to-understand theory which would go a long way toward minimizing her risk picture.

Simple is a serious topic though, and we're named Simple Success for a reason. Yes, we talk a little about stocks and funds and other things which might or might not be in your investment portfolio, but it's about more than that.

For truly effective instruction and a partnership which flows like water, keep your Success Simple.

We’re changing the way we look at things, and

Remember, “THAT’S GOOD”.

Also remember, this is Financial Life Coaching from A Happiness Perspective! Coaching Happiness.

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