16. July 2017
A story of pain, asphalt and aspirins
Pain make us focus on an immediate fix, but not on the long term solution.
Allow me a personal story. I was with a potential client the other day and they had a very pressing interest in a specific thing. I told them I could not solve their immediate problem (it was too progessed), but that I had the right long term solution that would allow them to avoid future problems like the one they were in today. But the moment they found out that I couldn't solve their immediate problem, their “lights turned off” and they had no interest, and they only wanted to leave as soon as possible. They were in a hurry, looking for an aspirin for their headache. Their only focus was their current problem.
The situation I describe above is actually very common. The market developed in a way that is causing the client pain. And when in pain, they can only focus on PAIN, and how to get rid of it. They are absolutely not interested in any kind of long term solutions, but only in removing the immediate pain. They simply don’t see that their immediate pain is the direct child of their past inability to have the long term solution in place. And since the result of that is pain - which is inevitable from time to time in a widely fluctuating market - then irony is that pain keeps them from focusing on a long term solution. And so pain perpetuates itself. How to break that cycle?
It would be helpful if only pain was a more frequent thing. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. If they experienced the same pain every month or every quarter, they would soon see the pattern, remember the pain, and try to do something that could remove "the next pain". They would wake up and remember the past pain and then focus on the long term solution. Sort of when the first Scandinavians froze every winter, and then learned how to cut and stack wood ahead of the next winter. It wasn't foresight or intelligence that made them do that, but simply the remembrance of last winters pain. Pain pushes us lazy humans to develop foresight. But the market is not merciful by giving frequent pain. Instead, it doles out half a year of ignorant bliss, and then SUDDENLY it swings a bat at you with a sharp pang of pain. So you were not prepared. And from that hit, you only look for an immediate fix or aspirin.
Once the pain has passed, the market calms down again and you are sort of comforted and lulled into sleep again for half a year or a year and you forget that this PAIN thing is inevitably coming again. It’s just a question of time. And then WHAM it comes again - precisely because you didn't install the procedure.
All of this naturally has a relationship to analysis. I told the client that a simple break of the moving average in spring 2017 would have solved all their problems. It really was as simple as that. But not having this analysis in place, they naturally didn't get any signal, and suddenly they were up into their neck in pain. It’s like the frog climbing into the pot of cold water, and then someone turns on the stove. At first the rising temperature doesn't really bother the frog - until the water boils. So my trying to be helpful and trying to let them avoid future pain didn't, of course, even register as a sound in their eardrum, because they were up to their necks in boiling water. It took me only a few minutes to realise that, because I can recognise this special haunted look in their eyes. Only aspirin will do. I can try to offer some help, but I know that they don’t listen. Only aspirin will do. That’s the human nature for you. We often trip ourselves up. And when we get up from the asphalt and clean up the blood and put on some bandage, then we naturally don’t care to tie our shoe laces, but let them hang loose, setting ourselves up for another encounter with the asphalt.
And the asphalt is always ready and accommodating.