Without Conviction, Decisions are Meaningless

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of June 3rd)

Whether you’re new to world of entrepreneurship, self-improvement, or the seasoned veteran who’s read all the books and been to all the seminars, one point is emphasized over and over again. Decisions.

If you want to reach your goals you must decide. If you want to do this or that you must decide. All relevant points of instruction, all meaningless if all you do is just decide. Granted you’ll be further along than most who’ll never decide to do anything but to go with the flow however that might not protect you from drifting right back next to them.

Decisions or the act of deciding is used by many as if it has the same meaning as choice. That’s not quite correct. To understand decisions you have to look at its roots or definition. Decision literally means to come to a conclusion or resolution after consideration to resolve something. In other words, once you decide you cut off from the other possibilities and move forward discarding all other choices that were possible as now irrelevant. Their only relevance to you from now on are memories to be used later in a self-evaluation process when looking back on whether your decisions were sound based on the choices and information present at the time.

Choice is not quite the same. Let’s say someone has three balloons and asks if you want one. There are three different colors so you choose the green one. If the balloon pops and you want another only to find there’s not another green available you might just go with a blue one. The color was just a choice or a preference to what was available nothing more. Having the joy of the balloon was more important regardless of color. Making a decision that you will only play with a balloon that is green in color is quite different. If your balloon burst and there were no green left you would go without rather than pick from what might be a myriad of different colors available.

You might say the example sounds too simplistic or even childish, but how many play out the same scenario in their work or personal lives. The say they want a different work experience or environment so they’ll choose someplace that fits the criteria. Then the balloon bursts and now they mindlessly go rushing back where they’ll now choose from whatever happens to be left. Might not be as happy with this one, but hey it’s all there was to choose from. And now they’ll live as to not take many chances with this one. There might be even less to choose from next time. And so goes the progression of reducing expectations, risk, enjoyment, and more.

Deciding on what you want and not settling is well worth the price because unlike most you will never be envious when you see someone who may have more than you. Someone might show up at a party touting and bragging they have 75 balloons, but if none of them are green who cares. You made the decision that you are not going to settle for what others have regardless. You want what you want and decided that it was worth the price of pursuit because that’s where the real fun comes from.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Reality is a Jungle, Not a Zoo

We hear the phrase “When reality bites, it bites hard.” yet many never contemplate just how hard or from where the teeth can lash out. More often than not when I’m discussing issues with someone they’ll somehow cloak an aura of encompassing protection from harm. Sometimes it has the dubious form that tragic results could never happen because if they don’t “think so,” well then that’s all that matters. Facts be damned. This is usually the tell-tale signs that these are people whom only think emotionally, not logically. You can’t argue or help change their viewpoint. They don’t care about anything else than telling you that you’re wrong regardless if they even understand the topic. Hence my use of the jungle vs zoo reference. Same animals within however one is far more dangerous than the other.

More often than one may realize many people are navigating their lives as if they are navigating the path within a zoo. You can tell them ad nauseam the injuries the animals within can inflict yet they seem to fall on deaf ears as you see them walk down the path where there will be no cages, no bars as to keep the dangers at bay. This is the path of real life and it is a jungle not a zoo with quite ferocious players contained within. Problem for many is they found out just how untamed and savage these financial markets can truly be. For some it will have lasting repercussions.

Many of you know how little regard I have for many of the so-called “Smart crowd” paraded across the television screens of most financial networks, and others. Some have all the literal bells, buzzers, and whistles that would make a dog and pony show blush let alone the clowns at some circus. But now they’re wringing their hands and pointing here there and everywhere for what’s going on with the markets. What’s going on in the markets is not that surprising for anyone who can critically think. However I feel what’s giving these shows and court jesters consternation is this time people might not be returning to the big top. They’re realizing people are no longer interested in spectacle, they want answers and it’s becoming self-evident the “Smart crowd” doesn’t have any.

Once again many people are finding out through financial pain just how dangerous the jungle of financial markets are rather than some guided tour within a zoo. There is no protective glass or steel bars in place to protect them from the foolish or outright flawed analysis spouted by these so-called “experts.” The more alphabet soup I see following a person’s name on any of these shows the higher the odds of them being proved wrong. These odds get even higher if the moniker Nobel Prize Winner, or Professor of Finance at some Ivy league college is used. It just boggles my mind what I see and hear.

What I really take issue with at times is the people who want to argue yet seemingly have no clue themselves. I don’t mind serious banter and I even encourage debate. I don’t have the answers to everything, no one does. But when I state or argue something I can give a reasoning or basis for my views because I’ve done my homework. Not just because I heard someone on television or radio say something that sounded smart without looking into the whether it might be fact or fiction.

To put things into perspective here’s just a few examples using some of the latest news headlines on what the “Smart crowd” was pushing:

You Have To Be In It To Win It – MarketWatch
Nasdaq Bull Market Leaves Bearish Outlook Behind – Bloomberg
Apple May Be World’s First Trillion Dollar Company-Forbes
Facebook debut adds to IPO frenzy-Reuters

During this same period here’s a few of what I was saying and writing:

On Facebook:
“It has just come to light that Mr. Zuckerburg bought Instagram without telling the current board of directors until nearly the day before the transaction took place as to ensure no one could stop it. That in itself is troubling when you remember the price tag was $1 BILLION for a company that doesn’t even make a profit. Yes that sure is a new school way of thinking, but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts Mr. Zuckerburg will never get that opportunity again. Once his own IPO goes public, actions like that will be punished mercilessly by investor funds (for my earlier thoughts click here) let alone the current board with egg on their faces. Can we get an Instagram of that photo I wonder?”
Excerpt from-Old School vs New School Debate April 2012

When “This is It!” turns into “Get Me Out!”

On Apple:
“There are so many people investing in shares of Apple because of the assumptions it will continue to go up forever is scary. If Apple has just a hiccup in its performance the reaction in the price could be not just significant, but could be down right devastating to many whom just don’t understand markets.”
Excerpt from-“Things That Make You Go Hmmmm” April 2012

What’s a few Billion between friends right?

And then there’s the EU and Euro debacle. Time after time we were told of a fix. Time after time a deal was struck they shouted only to once again realize if you looked under the headlines and shouts there never was any deal. Commentators and writers alike kept blithering that a Greek default was off the table. Italy was no Greece, and Spain was no Italy we hear, and on, and on. I’ve written many times on this blog my thoughts on the EU and the impacts it might have. But so many wanted to tell me I was so off base. “Just look at how much they recovered!” was the anthem of the day over and over again. One bell-ringer I witnessed on television touted “Greece is off the table because Bernanke will not allow contagion.” That was just before he changed his story and now is shouting and pounding buzzers yelling “Look Out!” For me it’s not only troubling, it’s disturbing because many of the same people who want to argue why one needn’t be cautious used these same lines as to bolster their positions. I think only the resulting bite and claw wounds will show just how much pain these tour guides have caused.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr