Saturday, March 13, 2010
Secrets and Liesby Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present…Aparna
Last week, 700 residents of a small, affluent mountain community were stunned to learn that at least 70 million dollars they had entrusted to a pillar of their community was gone. The man who seemed to have it all—a sprawling mansion, the fanciest cars, the trophy girlfriend and the most reputable business in the state--- declared personal and company bankruptcy.
The town is reeling from this, TV cameras are going house to house and many say they were “completely wiped out and don’t know what to do or where to go.” They have fallen apart and are going to pieces.
Sparing you the details, the essence of this story is that there were too many secrets lies and false promises. The more secrets you have, the sicker you are. This applies to all aspects of personal and business life. The more secrets you keep about who you really are what you are doing with your money (the last great taboo of our culture), the sicker you are.
This is nowhere more true than in trading. If you do not get right with yourself and those who believe you and believe in you, you are in sickness and stinking thinking. The most important way to begin falling apart without going to pieces is to tell the truth. If you are hiding your losses from a loved one—step up and tell that person. Don’t pretend you are a winner when you are losing. Don’t allow your pride to get in the way because pride (especially if built on a false and crumbling foundation) leads to misery, falling apart and, for some, going to pieces.
What happens when you go to pieces? Addictions, acting out behavior, depression, continued lying to self and others, and all manner of mental, physical and spiritual DIS-ease. It is only through telling the truth and being radically honest and taking personal responsibility that you find true freedom.
This is exactly what happens every day in life and in the markets. There is so much hype (es: sensational promotion), deception, misinformation and disinformation. You search desperately because you want to find the truth. But most of it is not the truth. The truth is often intolerable to bear. Denial, rationalization and the search for confirmation of your biases are much easier. No one wants to fail, but failure is a part of life. Failure is a part of trading and investing. Losing in the markets and life is often the beginning of winning. It’s OK to fall apart without falling to pieces. It’s necessary to get stopped out, to preserve capital, to embrace risk and take total personal responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Winners fall apart, but they quickly regroup. They don’t crumble and hide in the corner or lie to others about how great they are.
It’s freeing to admit that we are human beings, that we are fallible and we make mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s not OK to lie about them and pretend they don’t exist. In time, the truth will be revealed but at this moment, hundreds of suffering people have lost trust. Trust is a commodity in very short supply today, yet it is the bedrock of any relationship. People will not trust you if you lie to them. You will never learn to trust yourself if you continue to lie to yourself. It’s a vicious cycle of denial and obfuscation that leads to self-destructive behavior and further self-sabotage.
There are many lessons for trading and living in this story. Here are a few ways to keep from going to pieces when it all falls apart:
· Always tell the truth to yourself and those you love and who love you.
· Trust, but validate and verify everything.
· Don’t trust anyone but yourself when it comes to your money.
· If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
· Don’t assume anyone has your back. Take full and total responsibility for your actions and don’t sit around waiting for someone to bring you flowers or make money for you
· Just because something has worked in the past, don’t assume it will keep working. Linear thinking is complacent (es: self-satisfied) thinking and leads to a false sense of security and comfort.
· Don’t get greedy. Remember, bulls and bears make money—pigs (es: person with poor hygiene and low standards of tidiness) get slaughtered (es: get killed).
· Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify whenever possible.
· Everything you thought and dreamed for your future can be gone in the blink of an eye.
· Hope is not a viable strategy for trading or investing in anything.
· Stay really strong in body, mind and spirit because you never know when the tsunami is going to hit.
· Prepare for the worst and expect the best. Have a backup plan. Have three backup plans.
· When it all falls apart, you can and will survive if you don’t fall to pieces.
If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time…Abraham Lincoln