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    February 2014
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    Why Be Disciplined?

    Don Shaughnessy

    Yaman Saleh, founded a LinkedIn group called The Trader and while still small, I have found it to be among the more worthwhile.  You should consider joining here. 

    Yaman is a polymath and has good instincts as a group manager.  One of his good instincts is that he comments on articles I publish.

    Recently I published one on knowing what you mean by profit, so you can focus more effectively.  I used a farmer as an example of someone who described profit in ways not connected to money.

    Yaman was kind enough to extend the thought into ways of being successful.

    “The law of the farm” is a phrase Stephen Covey used. We can’t speedup or slowdown natural principles. We must adhere to them, or break ourselves against them.

    The more I know about technology, the more I appreciate that principle. Seeking instant gratification, on any dimension, embeds a snowball effect.

    The idea is that some things work at their own pace and they do it without regard to what you want. Farmers seem to know this and they also have non-money ways to think about profit.  The two may be connected.

    Success is a goal most people have, but some try to do it while working against the natural order of things.  They fail.  As Yaman points out, break themselves against the immutable facts.

    You cannot make many things happen more quickly, cheaper or easier.  Things have their own time scale and requirements.  Financial planning is a methodology that is that way.  Time and its engine, “compound interest” are crucial.

    Catching up is much more difficult than starting sooner.  Cramming doesn’t work.  Like farming, you cannot make corn grow faster by yelling at it, wanting it more, or promising it some reward.

    Trying to accomplish a 30 year plan in 5 years denies reality.  If you try it, you will find that you take huge risks that you would never take in a more extended period.  Penny stocks for instance.  I need a 40x my money deal, so there must be one there somewhere.  You will probably lose both the money and a significant share of the time remaining.

    The thought is not a new one.  For those old enough to remember Earl Nightingale, you will recognize the similarity.

     “The only person who succeeds is the person who is progressively realizing a worthy ideal. It’s the person who says, “I’m going to become this and then progressively works toward that goal.”

    Progressively is the key.  Instant success is an illusion.

    According to Earl, the “day” is the building block of success.  What am I to do today to reach my thoughtful goal?  What have a learned today that will cause me to adjust that goal or its method of achievement?  What should I do tomorrow to more perfectly achieve my ultimate goal?  What mistake did I make today and what did it teach me?  Every day matters.

    Seen this way, the long run is just the sum of thousands of short runs.  Each one managed and studied.

    It need not be a form of martyrdom.  Earl addresses the day in another way.

    “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.

    Like the discussion on profit, discover what you value and seek more of it.  Balance.  You will do more of what you enjoy.

    Eventually, and often too late, we discover that we could have done more or we could have done it differently.

    “We are all self-made, but only the successful will admit it.”

    “Hurry up” probably works in football because it confuses the defense.  There is no advantage to confusing yourself, so using time effectively is crucial to success.

    None of this is difficult or complex.

    As John Snobelin said last year, “Success is merely the ability to follow simple rules.”

    Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

    The MONEY® Network