“Notes from the Field” is a weekly collection of thoughts or ideas I’ve had and resources I’ve found through the week that I want to share. If you come across anything that is interesting or thought-provoking, please send it along!
The Concept of Enough:
In Notes from the Field 001, I mentioned the concept of “enough” with regard to Jack Bogle. This week, I came across this great story he told to illustrate the concept during a commencement address he gave to the MBA Graduates of the McDonough School of Business:
Here’s how I recall the wonderful story that sets the theme for my remarks today: At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, the author Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch 22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . Enough.”
The concept of “enough” is unique to each individual and I believe the feeling of “enough” is inextricably linked to contentment. But I think true contentment has almost nothing to do with your net worth. Look no further than the extremely happy people in third world countries and miserable billionaires. The need for “more stuff” or “Instagram worthy vacations” is a new concept that is likely unnecessary.
A study with over 300,000 participants found that social support was a stronger predictor of survival than physical activity, body mass index, hypertension, air pollution, alcohol consumption, and even smoking fifteen cigarettes a day! Furthermore, many other studies have found that the main determining factor to a happy life is quality relationships.
Social relationships help buffer the effects of chronic stress by providing emotional support and as we know, stress can be very damaging to our health. Also, social relationships directly influence health through their effect on physiology, behavior, and mood.
As we’ve entered a new world of connectedness, somehow we seem to have become less connected. Think of the couples you see having dinner who spend the majority of dinner staring down at their phones.
It’s the quality of your relationships that will likely define your level of contentment and that isn’t done with a credit card or smartphone. The great irony is that the more time you invest in your relationships, the less money you’ll need to have “enough.”
H/T to David Perell for pointing me to article.
Beginners Have An Advantage
There is a common theme among industry disrupters (think Uber, Airbnb, Amazon) – in many cases, the company founders had no prior experience in their field. They saw a need in the market that wasn’t being filled and did something about it. But, it’s possible that the only reason they could see the need and/or were willing to go after it is that their vision wasn’t clouded by what was already working.
In other words, it wasn’t clouded by what was already providing the company’s profits. A profitable company that pivots to an entirely new way of doing business puts the entire profit at risk while the beginner or eager upstart has nothing to lose.
Similarly, you have nothing to lose by trying to learn a new skill that could bring joy to your life. Whether that’s learning to play a new instrument, trying a new hobby, or even reading a book outside of your typical genre – if you think it is something that you could enjoy, then give it a shot.
If you need an additional reason to take up something new, picking up a new skill can actually help your brain. So, for anyone worrying about the possibility of cognitive decline, try learning a new skill.
Getting outside of your personal comfort zone has little to no drawbacks. If you don’t end up liking it, then quit. At least you’ve given yourself the opportunity to find a new passion and maybe even improve your health in the process.
The Feedback Loop
“We will always be the most biased observer of ourselves.” – Eugene Wei
When asked to rank our driving skills, 93% of Americans said they were above average.
70% of high school students have described themselves as above average leaders.
And while I can’t immediately locate a study, I’ll bet the majority of investors believe they are above average.
Intuitively, we know these can’t be true.
This has been called the Lake Wobegon effect – a fictional town “where all the men are strong, all the women are good-looking and all the children are above average.”
We’re all blind to our own shortcomings – myself very much included. I, of course, think I am an above average driver, above-average leader and above average intelligence. There is a good chance that I’m probably wrong about all of them. (I’m definitely a below average cook.)
We have an innate desire to protect our own egos which probably explains a lot of the studies above. After all, nobody wants to be below average.
Ironically though, the only way to improve is to ask for feedback – particularly for our areas of weakness. This could be on anything from cooking (I really could use the help) or planning a successful retirement.
Knowing where our blind spots are is the first step to actually improving. Being willing to get off our high horse and ask for help is the next step. This process can actually have compounding positive effects on both our mental self-awareness and our actual potential outcomes.
How to start a feedback loop: Consider asking people you trust if they’d be willing to provide gentle feedback as to what they believe your greatest strengths are and where you could use some improvement. It’s important to note though that you must agree in advance not to get defensive. If you can stand the blow to your ego, you have a lot to gain.
Quote I’m Thinking About:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
Thanks for reading!
If you’re looking for a retirement planner to help you make a comfortable transition into retirement and want to see if we’re a good fit, reach out to me and my team at Shorebridge Wealth Management.
Disclaimer: Any opinions are those of Ashby Daniels and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Any information provided is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or loss.
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