One day, K’ung Fu-tse was standing at a distance from the pool’s edge when he saw an old man being tossed about in the turbulent water. He called to his disciples and together they ran to rescue the victim. But by the time they reached the water, the old man had climbed out onto the bank and was walking along, singing to himself.
K’ung Fu-tse hurried up to him. “You would have to be a ghost to survive that,” he said, “but you seem to be a man, instead. What secret power do you have?”
“Nothing special,” the old man replied. “I began to learn while very young and grew up practicing it. Now I am certain of success. I go down with the water and come up with the water. I follow it and forget myself. I survive because I don’t struggle against the water’s superior power. That is all.””
I don’t know about you, but my life is a lot like that waterfall, and the raging waters beneath it. You can fight the current until your exhausted and smashed against the rocks, or you can kick back and allow it to carry your where you’d like to be, or at the very least a great deal closer to it. As with the rest of life, this too is reflected with considerable magnification in trading. That price chart is a river baby, and what’s driving it is a force of nature way beyond your influence.
We all deal with experiences that are difficult. Sometimes it even feels like our entire world is crumbling around us. Somehow, against all odds we persevere. We get through it. We look back, and usually, nearly every time, we realize the whole ordeal wasn’t quite as bad as we thought it was. In fact, natural optimists that we are, we usually even find a “silver lining”. We may even feel a sense of pride in how the situation was handled, often with the realization that we are in a better position afterwards than we were before. We continually marvel at how things end up working out in the end. Until the next crisis, when we again hurl ourselves into a pit of despair to wallow for a time in in self-pity, frustration and anger.
I say stop it. Get off this merry-go-round and take a red pill. That is, accept the reality that you have a lot less control over your own existence than you want. Even more so than your existence in general, you’ve got absolutely no input on which direction that price chart is going, or how far. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have what you want, it just means you don’t get it just for wanting it. You’ve got to make a plan, and take action (preferably a series of simple and repeatable actions we like to call process).
You have a want, a desire, a place you want to be. You make a plan. You take deliberate action according to this plan. Now what? Nothing, that’s what. These actions have communicated our intent to the universe. Now it’s time to push that want, that desire, that place you want to be out of your mind. Earl Nightingale reminds us that we always gravitate to our dominant thought. If our dominant thoughts are of wanting, we create more wanting. We will not have, but remain in a state of want. Expectation creates more expectation.
The Chinese have a saying, “Don’t push the river”. Bruce Lee put his own spin on it when he said “Be like water”. You’re mom even told you when you were a kid, “honey, just go with the flow”. This doesn’t mean to be a cork in the river, utterly at it’s mercy. It does mean to understand the flow and work with it to maximize it’s usefulness to your own ends. Let the current do the work, harness it’s limitless power rather than subject yourself to it.
Have a little faith that things usually work out for the best, but this time don’t wait until after to find the silver lining. Take a deep breath and trust the plan you’ve made, and the action you’ve taken. All that is left is to get out of the way and allow the results to happen. You can either trust what you cannot see, or struggle against it. You’re not driving, so instead of fighting with the driver about the destination, kick back and enjoy the scenery along the way, knowing that no matter where the driver takes you, it’s going to be closer to your destination than you are now.
In Jet Li’s Fearless (what an amazing film), our hero has an wonderful conversation with his adversary about varying grades of tea. During this exchange, the point is made that when one is in a good mood, the grade of the tea is irrelevant. If the grade of the tea is irrelevant, a low grade cannot deteriorate ones mood. The tea is just tea. It is we, who grade it high or low, good, bad or somewhere in between. The fact is the tea has no concept of good or bad, high grades or low grades. It is perfectly happy being tea. In years of drought, it doesn’t bother fighting to produce epic quantities of tea leaves. It is perfectly content to work with what it’s got at the time.