How to Embrace Risk & Uncertainty - Part 1 of 2May 21, 2022
Tony Dungy, who is remarkable for winning a Super Bowl as a player and then doing it again as a head coach, has a simple philosophy for dealing with challenging situations,
“You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response.”
This way of thinking allowed Dungy to remain calm and think clearly when it was extremely tempting to respond emotionally. And it’s also a mental discipline practised by a group of ancient Greek philosophers known as the Stoics.
The term ‘Stoic’ has been somewhat hijacked to equate with the classic British Imperialist condition of the ‘stiff upper lip’, of being emotionless, as if the Stoics’ goal was the total & complete suppression of all emotions so that one would end up ruled by the cold, logical demeanour of Mr Spock from Star Trek.
But the truth is that the Stoics didn’t try to eliminate their emotions. They were intelligent people, avid & smart students of human behaviour, and they knew that this would be almost impossible. Instead, they sought to keep from being ruled by their emotions, a term that came to be known as ‘domestication of emotions’.
A warhorse is just as mighty as a wild stallion, and the difference between the two is that one is under control - it’s ‘domesticated’. While the Stoics of two millennia ago probably never dreamed of anything as complex as the world we live in, their mentality and thinking are ideally suited to the savvy entrepreneur or business owner.
Ever Feel Like You’re a Hostage to Fortune?
I’m a business owner. I have equity in several businesses that I’ve helped or otherwise advised, am the co-founder of Success Engineers, our online coaching business, and happen to be a value investor with a particular interest in the DeFi (Decentralised Finance/Crypto) space.
I can share from bitter, hard-won experience that there is NO place for emotions in investing and trading. I have horror stories of losing toe-curling sums of money trading Forex, Stocks and Crypto that would make any decent human being weep inconsolably if this had happened to them.
And, to be brutally honest, I did in some cases. But here’s what I also (eventually) did.
I learned to Discipline my Disappointments, something Jim Rohn shared with me years earlier that, to my shame, I didn’t pay proper heed to at the time. See, what I hadn’t figured out was that ALL natural laws affect us in business as they do in Life, and when you examine success, failure or anything on the spectrum in between, ultimately, the explanation for it is human behaviour in every, single case.
Market downturns are inevitable, but an investor’s reaction doesn’t have to be.
If you shift your perception of what happens, your need for a specific outcome and your attitude to events, you begin to shift from being a Creature of Circumstance to becoming a Creator of Circumstance.
Have you ever noticed that the words ‘REACTOR’ and ‘CREATOR’ are just a reframing of the same letters? As bizarre as this may sound, it’s pretty much how it is with your reality and the clearer your thinking to a situation, the more Composure you can display, the more likely you’ll make a Better Decision and take a Better Action following a loss or an unexpected or apparently negative outcome.
You’ll no longer FEEL like a Hostage to Fortune. You’ll be doing what we advocate at Success Engineers as THE fundamental foundation for enduring success. You’ll have taken a big step towards coming face to face with yourself, adapting your business and approach to factor in your unique disposition, disciplining your disappointments - domesticating your emotions.
In his epic book, Thinking Fast & Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman discusses his findings that we’re wired to avoid loss far more than chasing a gain. This reminds me of an apocryphal (most likely a made-up) story about an experiment with a bunch of monkeys.
As the story goes, a bunch of monkeys were put into a room in a lab-style environment and left for a while. They got pretty listless after an hour or so, at which point a white-coated researcher came in with a big bunch of bananas and handed out one to each of the monkeys. The monkeys were ecstatic and began peeling and eating their one banana with gleeful abandon.
The following day, the researcher came back into the room, cleared up the banana skins, and then left. Shortly afterwards, another researcher showed up with another big bunch of bananas. This time, two bananas were given out to each monkey.
As you can imagine, the monkeys were delighted. Yesterday from no bananas to one banana, and now, TWO bananas!
Shortly after the researcher had exited the room, another white-coated man walked in and proceeded to take one banana from each monkey. Before he’d even got to the door, the monkeys went batsh!t, screaming shrilly and throwing their poo around.
But here’s the thing.
Every monkey in that room was in the same position as they had been on Day One - from no bananas to being the happy recipient of one banana. The difference? They’d been forced to experience loss, and they didn’t take to it kindly.
There’s a sub-message here, which is that value diminishes as soon as it’s been experienced, but we’ll leave that for another day.
The thing to focus on here is that this is precisely how humans behave; we are wired like this. So, if you want to begin to domesticate your emotions and get on the right side of randomness, uncertainty and risk
…don’t be a poo-flinging monkey!
Next month, we’ll pick this up and look at how you begin to turn the screw on this and become a mistress (or master) of your Destiny.
To your inevitable success
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
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