Earlier this week, I was doing my nightly Gmail inbox clean-out (yes, I strive for inbox zero and no, I can’t quite get there 😉 ). In between the ads, junk mail, and useful reminders was a hidden gem – an email newsletter from Dr. Brene Brown. If you know Brene’s work, you’ll understand that when she sends a message, it is always worth reading. This month’s message was no exception
The newsletter was entitled “Creating Space” and started with this quote:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” —Viktor Frankl
Brene went on to say that she illustrates this quote in her mind as S( )R ~ and has a relentless focus on preserving and honoring the parentheses (ie: the space between stimulus and response)
She was using this quote to articulate the reasons behind her and her team stepping back this summer, which was a powerful lesson in and of itself. But for me, hours after I read the email, I couldn’t get that quote and its illustration out of my mind and kept thinking about how it so readily applies to markets and investing in today’s environment.
There has been no lack of stimulus in regards to the markets over the past few months – check that, over the past 2.5 years. We’ve gone thru a sudden event driven recession from COVID that quickly became the shortest in history. We saw new investors enter the markets, followed by wild speculation and meme stock dominance. We watched new financial instruments such as NFTs storm into existence. We’ve experienced goods shortages (remember limits on toilet paper?), ongoing supply chain disruptions, record high prices, a frenzied real estate market, and surging gas prices. We’ve witnessed increasing global instability and many horrors both at home and abroad. And just as we rounded the corner in 2022 and believed brighter days were surely ahead, markets have been struggling to find stability and the available narrative in the financial media is stunningly negative and alarmist.
It may seem like this time is different and that things have never been this bad – but in truth, there are always things to worry about and address in markets and investing (and if life for that matter). The stimulus has always been – and will always be – there.
So our challenge becomes, what do we do with the space between that stimulus and our response? How do we pry those parentheses open and enhance the distance until we respond – and perhaps improve our response once we get there?
Here are a few of the strategies that I find helpful to maximize the space between. I’m not perfect and there are days where I jump right from stimulus to response. However, I am continuing to work at it and maybe you can to
The stimulus will never end. It is outside of our collective control. However, as Victor Frankl reminds us, we do have control over the space between – and that – that is where our power lies. May we all use it wisely.
Until next week, invest on,
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