I’ve been up to my ears in the physical universe (in a good way, mostly) and just spent the last few days pulling together the course notes for an annual Market Update event. Really good notes.

What stands out for me is the wisdom that experience teaches. I don’t mean to say that in a self-serving way, not in the slightest. Really. For instance, some of the comments and advice from Olly Newland have really put the whole global financial meltdown thing — and what we should do/how we could react in response — into practical perspective.

I’ve talked earlier about Steven Covey’s injunction to “work within your circle of influence” (i.e. what you can control) — and it’s so true. One of my big lessons.

Really, the shenanigans that go on in the world financial scene or in politics bring effects which can seem to bear on us … but, actually, not all that much. What we have to watch are our own reactions and how those reactions affect the decisions we make. (As well as keeping an eye out for the blood-suckers in the market and other natural hazards.)

It’s apparent that for most of us exposed to the market (whatever market) we are bobbing around like corks on the tide. Fleas on the dog. Decisions we made years ago are still controlling our outcomes, in some cases our destiny.
Like the joke: “There are two kinds of people, those who like to categorise things in the world and those who don’t” (or the slightly more funny one: “There are three kinds of people, those who understand arithmetic, and those who don’t”) it seems to me there are people who more readily think in terms of working out “the rules”, and others who work to break things down to less-concrete “fundamentals”, and make decisions based on these observations married to their values.

Both approaches have their merits, of course.
But in my own observation of people asking for advice (or to be told “the rules”), many times the type of questions for which they seek guidance are life’s ‘curly’ ones — and (by my definition anyway) just the sort of questions for which we each need to look into ourselves to find the answers.

I’ve seen this tendency in operation in groups. I’d suggest it often occurs in religious contexts: asking the pastor/preacher/priest/bishop to tell you “the answer”, when (in my view) finding your way to your own answer — for you — is an essential part of ‘getting’ the lessons from experience. It’s what makes you a senior player. (I’m NOT saying we don’t need or benefit from education and wise guidance. Hello?)

Back to our life in ‘the market’, I’m not so much talking about ‘technical’ questions, such as how long should I fix my mortgage interest rate, or what does that lease clause mean … but questions that run to the values of the person involved. e.g. How much is enough? What am I prepared to risk? What are my core values? When will I know I have arrived?

Good judgement comes from experience
Experience comes from bad judgement.

— proverb attributed to the Sufi sage Mulla Nasrudin (although I was told it was North American Indian wisdom).

This is a big topic and I know I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d be interested in any comments or views, if you have them. – P