Coping With Reality

Reality is not real

Reality is our model of how the world works. Your model is not mine and we are, almost certainly, both wrong. It behooves us to continuously improve our model.

What is a good model?

It will have little to do with how it was made, the data it relies upon, or the ability of the modeller. Its functionality can be best defined by how well does it predict future outcomes. If it produces reasonable short run predictions, it is a good model. If it does not predict well it is a poor tool.

If we didn’t care about the future, we would have no need to understand reality.

Life is not quite a game

Life and games both have rules. Life’s rules are more derived than specified, but they exist nonetheless. Life has a clock, baseball does not. Life can be played by either an individual or a team. Games have a way to keep score, life does too, but unlike games, it has many. Games have objectively verifiable winners. Life does not.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

Yogi Berra had a way of expressing deep thoughts, did he not?

In life, the game is always in progress, so objectively we cannot define winners. Interim results are not definitive:

  1. Greg Norman in the 1996 Masters gold tournament. He began the final round 6 shots ahead and finished second, 7 shots behind.
  2. Eike Batista was worth more than $30 billion in 2011 and minus $1 billion in 2014.
  3. The Titanic was unsinkable until it sank

If interim results cannot define winners, interim results cannot define losers either.

  1. Walmart was Sam Walton’s second try. The first try went bankrupt.
  2. The Ford Motor Company was Henry Ford’s third try. Two bankruptcies.
  3. Thomas Edison was sent home from school for being too stupid to benefit from education.
  4. Twelve publishers rejected J.K. Rowlings’ outline for the Harry Potter series

In life, keeping score is the problem

Most of what we use for score keeping involves comparison. No comparison is ever complete. We lack sufficient context to make it meaningful. There will always be people better at one aspect of life than you. You may envy them on one metric while they are envying you on some other.

Be your best you

You can do no more. You can use others for inspiration and ideas. You can recognize the role luck plays. You can make mistakes and carry the lesson to the future. You cannot make yourself greater by diminishing others. You cannot define “winner” except by confining it to a specific category.

Important engineering concept

Constants aren’t. Variables don’t.

Life isn’t easy so don’t have unreasonable expectations. Find meaning. Learn every day. Be a little kind to yourself. Move on to greatness.


I help business owners, professionals, and others understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages to acquire more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

In previous careers, I have 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 705-927-4770

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