Today I’d like to discuss a few things that never change in a world that never stops changing.
And that’s because the things that never change are the most important things to pay attention to.
However, change gets the most attention because it’s exciting, it’s surprising, it’s something that the media can comment on.
I have found that to be a successful investor, and a successful businessperson, I’ve had to be prepared for change, but I’ve also to understand those things that stay the same.
Now don’t be confused by all this – it’s not a play on words.
Stay with me and I’ll explain what I’m getting at.
On the other hand, understanding what stays the same is very useful.
Particularly in challenging times like we’re currently experiencing.
Of course, I still have no idea what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m a little less surprised whatever does happen if I have a handful of assumptions that I can will put my faith into to guide me moving forward.
So let’s look at some things that never change in a world that never stops changing.
1. More people wake up every morning wanting to solve problems than wake up looking to cause harm
I read this statement in a blog by social commentator Morgan Housel and I’m sure he's correct.
I'm an optimist, and have faith in society, but I recognise that those who come out with a negative message are getting more air play in the media currently.
Actually it's always been that way and that's what is inciting a lot of the fear, worry and negative sentiment in Australia.
Fact is…in life you get whatever you expect to get.
The only question is, what do you want?
Over the years I found those with an optimistic outlook do much better in life, in business and in their investments while those with a pessimistic outlook tend to be worried and find what they’re look for - bad times.
In her book The Optimism Bias, Tali Sharot, writes.
Optimism protects us from accurately perceiving the pain and difficulties the future undoubtedly holds, and it may defend us from viewing our options in life as somewhat limited.
As a result, stress and anxiety are reduced, physical and mental health are improved, and the motivation to act and be productive is enhanced.
In order to progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities—not just any old realities, but better ones, and we need to believe them to be possible.
If we were not optimistic, none of us would bother setting up a business, employing people, taking risks or investing in property.
If we were totally realistic about how often people fail, how often things go wrong, how most property investors never build a substantial property portfolio, we would never even bother getting started.
I’ve said it before…
Your thoughts lead your feelings, your feelings lead to your actions, and your actions lead to your results.
Your outside world is a reflection of what’s happening inside your mind.
So feed it with positive, optimistic thoughts.
2. The world breaks about once a decade
This is an interesting expression I also learned from Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund.
But it’s true and there seem to be very few exceptions to this.
Looking back over my close to 50 years I’ve been a student of economics there is a major disruption every decade or so.
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It could be an economic, political, military or a social issue.
At present we have a combination of three major issues: a worldwide pandemic, a recession and political and social unrest.
Looking back it’s easy to see these disruptions in hindsight, but at the time no one saw them coming.
Apart from these major significant disruptions that happen every decade or so, there are also the unexpected X factors (or Black Swan events) that come out of the blue every year to mess up our best laid forecasts, either on the positive or negative side.
3. The bad news is never as bad as it sounds
How many times does the end of the world as we know it need to arrive before we realise that it’s not the end of the world as we know it?
Of course, those with a long-term perspective, who have lived through a number of economic shocks and property cycles, tend not to get as shocked when major events like we’re now experiencing hit us.
However, those who have not experienced these type of shocks tend to worry more and imagine the worst because they have no perspective to rely on.
4. This too shall pass
Nothing too good or too bad stays that way forever.
I’ve found these type of major upheavals are not as scary if you have the underlying belief that they’ll keep happening but that in they don’t prevent long-term growth of our economy and our property markets.
Each boom sets us up for the next downturn, just as each downturn plants the seeds for the next upturn.
In Australia, our property markets have a long-term upward trend, but in the short-term they move up and down.
5. History doesn’t really repeat itself
We’ve all heard it before - “History repeats itself!”
It’s an inane statement which seems so wise on the surface but crumbles under serious scrutiny.
Morgan Housel wisely said: “History is mostly the study of unprecedented events, which, ironically, we then use as a map for what could happen in the future.”
The problem is that the world and our economies evolve over time and what worked in the past may not work today or tomorrow.
History is the past; history is merely what occurred yesterday and before.
Take for example the theory that the Reserve Bank and other central banks used for a number of years before we ran into the current crisis.
They kept lowering interest rates in the attempt to stimulate the economy and lower unemployment, but in reality it didn’t work this time round.
Similarly, during the current crisis the Reserve Bank and central banks around the world have kept our financial system from falling apart because of what they’ve learned from the past, in the process of ruining a lot of assumptions people had about how the economy works and how bad this recession would be.
So here we are in the second half of 2020, at a time when it’s hard to make sense of the world.
It’s a world that would’ve seemed unfathomable a decade ago.
But some things never change.
My inspiration for this blog came from Morgan Housel's blog: Permanent Assumptions
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