Treece: Potent proverbsWritten by Dock David Treece | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently the author had a chance to sit down with a good family friend, who is not only an acute businessman but profoundly spiritual. This friend has, over the years, taken on the role of an adopted godfather to the author; he is a joy to others but always an excellent source of advice when necessary.
In the course of discussing other things including developments in our respective businesses as well as issues in our personal lives, this mentor offered several pieces of advice that, while simple, are worth remembering.
These axioms are also worthy of further consideration, as each has broader application to the global business community.
- This too shall pass. In an 1859 speech Abraham Lincoln referenced a story of an “Eastern monarch” who gathered all the greatest thinkers in his kingdom and instructed them to come up with a single statement that would be true in all times and in all places. After going away to think, they returned with the phrase “this too shall pass.”
It has been said that for all things there is a season; and while this lesson is far more frequently remembered during bad times, it is just as true for good. We firmly believe that all things happen for a reason; that there are reasons for good times and lessons to be learned during bad. The problem now plaguing society is that instead of people learning the lessons presented during difficult times, people (read: politicians and bureaucrats who set monetary policy) instinctively try to cushion the blow; in so doing they do their countrymen a disservice.
Similarly, during good times people rarely think of the bad times that will inevitably follow. The natural thing to do is to live excessively, as opposed to saving.
- Stay true to yourself. Today people have a natural inclination to move with the prevailing winds of the time. The problem is that what is popular isn’t always right. Or, as is the case in business, what’s profitable isn’t always right. Companies – like people – need to stick with their core values (and core competencies) rather than submitting to their greed.
- Lastly, and most simply, no man ever learned anything while is mouth was open. In the groundbreaking book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey rights that habit #5 is, tellingly, “seek first to understand, then to be understood” (emphasis added). All too often people fall victim to their desires to express themselves, to be understood. Most would be far better off if they just shut up.
Case in point: In December of 2009 President Barack Obama hosted a “job creation summit” at the White House, and invited several hundred business leaders, union heads, et al to come up with ideas to spur employment. In August 2011 the White House hosted 400 entrepreneurs in South Carolina to discuss ways to improve the economy.
The problem is that it is physically impossible to gather than many people in a room and share ideas. In other words, when there are over 100 people packed into a meeting, there are really only a handful of people talking. Ideas aren’t being shared, they’re being dictated. The proof is in the pudding, with present unemployment roughly equal to its level in December of 2009.
It is sad but significant that as years pass human beings are forced to re-learn many of the same lessons. People forget that good times will return, or to listen instead of speaking; just as companies forget what business they are in or that they need to prepare for tough times in order to survive.
Many people today, mostly conservative, are wondering why we have Barack Obama and his economic policies in the White House, despite the fact that they are nearly identical to many of the failed policies of Jimmy Carter not 40 years ago.
The reasons why are many, but two stand out. First, to be blunt, is population turnover. The people who were alive and cognizant of Jimmy Carter’s presidency and the policies he pursued are older now, many have passed away. The young people that constituted Obama’s major support base in 2008 hadn’t even been born before Reagan or even Bush I.
Second, and more importantly – or at least more manageable – is that people tend to forget many of these core lessons. They forget the basics; and every now and then need a reminder. Undoubtedly this will be just one of many.
Dock David Treece is a discretionary money manager with Treece Investment Advisory Corp (www.TreeceInvestments.com) and is licensed with FINRA through Treece Financial Services Corp. He has appeared on CNBC and numerous radio programs, and also serves as editor of financial news site Green Faucet (www.GreenFaucet.com). The above information is the express opinion of Dock David Treece and should not be construed as investment advice or used without outside verification.