Maybe you remember the Walt Kelly cartoon from 1971 about pollution: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Most speed bumps in life I can trace back to my own transgressions.

Forgive my golf metaphor: all rounds consist of “bad breaks” – those never ruin the round, though.  It’s the reaction to the bad break that often does.  Our playing competitors also aren’t to blame for finishing somewhere other than top of the leaderboard.

Competition is a funny thing.  We tend to limit the idea to capitalism, sports, and reality TV shows.  Rules, boundaries, referees, teams, winners and losers. 

Yet, we know this to not be true.

Listen to any great professional athlete, any honorable CEO and the message is always the same.  Control what you can control.  Don’t worry about “them”.  Do “your” best.  Get out of “your own” way.

This sort of talk is boundaryless and doesn’t keep score.  There’s no shot clock.  There’s no “them”.

They might speak of the “killer instinct”.  But, what they’re “killing” is their ego, not the opponent in its traditional sense.

That is the art of sport, business, and building wealth.  Those who succeed long-term, stay happy, and limit major life mistakes recognize the true competition: themselves.

We, financial advisors, make this mistake all the time.  Our competition is not the other advisor – it’s pushing our agenda.  Not meeting people where they are.  We try to push or pull people to where we think someone should be.  “Talking past the sale”, some say.  Insisting on being right.

As investors, our competition is not comparing ourselves to others, being resilient in the face of fear and greed, being honest with ourselves about taking risks and our financial capabilities.

Our enemy is not geopolitical, market volatility, big tech, or something that we don’t understand.

We have met the enemy, and (s)he is us.

Thanks for reading.


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