”Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
When it comes to investing, there are no guarantees and nothing is ever completely risk-free. Really. There are investments with projected lower volatility and there are ways to help mitigate risk but there is no way to completely eliminate risk all together, no matter what anyone may tell you.
If you choose to invest, you will have to expose yourself to some kind of risk at some point. The good news is that you get to choose. And it is your choice. Own it. Own it when you prosper and own it when you don’t. When you authorize funds to be sent, you make the choice to invest. It might be good, it might be great, it might be not-so-good, and on occasion it just might be a spectacular disaster!
No one has a crystal ball. The best any of us can do is to research and learn and grow. The only way to grow is to learn from our mistakes and missteps. Sometimes we want something so badly (like a guarantee) that we ignore many of the warning signs that, on hindsight, were right there staring us in the face from the start. Sometimes unforeseen variables come into play. Sometimes things just don’t pan out as projected.
Don’t beat yourself up for a bad call (and certainly don’t beat up your broker!) It’s impossible to completely eliminate your mistakes just like it’s impossible to completely eliminate risk. But there are a few things you can do to help you mitigate and manage the fallout:
- READ, READ, READ…and then read some more! Read every word on every page of every document about every investment or project or private placement. Make sure you understand all of it (including the risks) before opting in.
- Beware the Guarantee. Immediately red flag anything ‘guaranteed’ for intense scrutiny and further research. Seriously. You always need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario, including a total loss of capital.
- Check out the people involved. People can make or break a project no matter how great the idea. Follow the leadership and follow the money (salary, distribution and profit structures). Good people put their investors first.
- Document everything. Keep copies of all signed paperwork, documents, information and communications. Following up phone calls with a summary email is a great way to help keep track of conversation details. Dated docs make it easier to reference back to details (especially at tax time).
- Learn. Review the investment or project to pinpoint what went right and/or what went wrong. Being able to objectively identify the elements or activities of a success or failure will help you to apply that knowledge to future projects. If you let yourself get emotional, too busy pointing fingers and blaming everyone (including yourself) then you’re not going to be able to learn and grow from the experience.
Next time you get the chance, read or listen to a biography of someone you admire. Chances are they’ve experienced just as many failures as successes. Everyone gets it wrong some of the time, even the professionals, especially the professionals if you consider the number and volume of transactions handled. You can travel once a year and never run into any problems but if you fly once or twice a month, chances are you might get delayed or lose your bags every now and then.
If you want to keep going places, you have to put it all into perspective and then get back on the plane!