Keep The Best

When I was in the accounting firm, one of my clients was a race horse breeder.  While the horse racing business is an exceedingly risky and complex business, breeding is more straightforward.  Assuming you carry in your head a three generation pedigree for about a thousand horses.

According to Dave, the game is a simple one.

“Keep the best and sell the rest.”

The outcome is continual improvement, minimized overhead, (the rest eat, need housing and care) and the ability to grow.

Keep the best and sell the rest is a simple rule for a race horse breeder and it is also a simple and useful organizing principle for your life.

Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources.   Each of us has scarce resources.  Time, money, skill, attention, and passion.  Each of us allocates these less than perfectly.  There is some guidance on the time and money part, but they don’t cause all of the problems.  We would organize ourselves a little better if we improved our distribution.   We could say no to more things and yes to fewer.  Yes only to the best. 

Before you can keep the best, you must know what the best looks like.  Each of us intuitively has their own definitions, although few of us have thought about them. We should. Then we can recognize the rest.

The rest are not necessarily without merit.  That is confusing.  Giving up bad for best is pretty easy, but giving up good for great is troublesome. I doubt we would all have the same list so comparative help may not be there.

When you have defined a best list, it is easier to reduce our commitment to some of the rest. They have value,  just not quite enough value to push something off the best list.  Remember the scarce resource issue. You can’t do everything. 

After a long time we evolve a best list.  As you grow older you find that experiences are worth more than things.  Relationships more than most everything else.  Quality is better than quantity.  The list is not so long.

Rather than wait for the list to evolve, take control and decide.  Notice when you like something and notice the things that frustrate you.

It is a bit Zen, but there is a lot in that to recommend it.  The ideal I suppose is luxury Zen. The luxury Zen idea is, have only a few exquisite things and only a few great relationships.  Why would anyone need more?

Beware of the consumerism trap.  It is possible that quantity makes great into just good enough.

Keep the best and purge the rest.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  don@moneyfyi.com  866-285-7772

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