Being Different Makes a Difference
St. James Park was swarming with people as we made our way on foot toward Buckingham Palace. We had been ducking and darting the growing crowd, our tour guide leading the way, when suddenly we came upon a wall of people. Our guide stopped abruptly, head up, searching the crowd. It was clear that he was noticing what, until that moment, no one else in our group had - almost every member of the crowd was headed in the same general direction, toward what seemed to be the same destination. This caused considerable foot traffic and bottlenecking, making it impossible to see anything around you besides other human beings. Upon making such a discovery, with a quick nod, our tour guide turned to cheerily say with a smile, "You must always remember to observe the masses and do otherwise!".
From there, we dashed down Horse Guard Road (a path very few seemed to be taking), across a series of embankments, barriers, and other impediments, finding ourselves in a reasonably secluded spot off to one side, with an unimpeded full-view of the 254th annual Trooping the Colour. It was spectacular, as decorated British regiments on horseback paraded flawlessly right before us, Prince Charles at the head of it all.
Our guide's contrarian philosophy worked well for us that day. Had we stayed the traditional course, it's likely we would have been relegated to the back of a very large group, our line of sight blocked by heads/hats/cameras, having gotten to see absolutely nothing of what we came to witness. But instead, because our guide had the courage to see that often the most popular path becomes the less efficient or effective path - due to over-saturation, unoriginality, and a whole host of other things - we were able to have the view of a lifetime. Had he not been willing to risk failure for the opportunity to pursue success, had he been too afraid to stray from the status quo, our little tour group would have been far worse off.
The Road Less Traveled Could be the One for You
Herd mentality is a real cognitive bias that plagues the modern human condition, myself included. Recently, I stopped at a random food truck swarmed with people. I had no idea what the truck was providing, what the prices were, or even if it was at all worth it to stand in such a line - but, nevertheless, I stood in line for a full twenty minutes before I came to my senses and left. Why? Because I, like most people if they are honest enough to admit it, fear even just the thought of missing out or making the wrong decision. That thought has paralyzed people in most cases, for all of human history, causing them to miss out on what could be for fear of what they may be missing out on if they stray from the "norm" or take a risk.
We all succumb to herd mentality all of the time in all areas of our lives. But it's when we consciously take the "Road less traveled by," as Robert Frost famously penned, that exciting things start to happen. Everyone in this world is different from anyone else who ever lived. We all know this but rarely contemplate the consequential implications and opportunities this creates. When we hear this quote it causes us to despair over being so different or "other" rather than rejoice in realizing how much value that diversity brings.
Entrepreneurs are great examples of individuals who know how to recognize their difference, find the road less traveled, and sprint down it. Very rarely does someone start a business, model it precisely like every other business in their industry, and cash in on success. No! It nearly always takes a new approach or concept, in other words, something different, to make a go of it. Successful entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or Walt Disney (to name-drop the big guns) were able to recognize what it was that made them special, what they could add to the world, but more importantly, they had the guts to pursue those things in ways that were new. And we all, even the world's most "average person" have within us this creative and difference-making capability.
How Does this Concept Relate to my Financial Success?
I keep this thought, that often the road less traveled is littered with the most possibility, in mind when making decisions about how we invest our client's money and how we help them plan their financial success. There are a lot of tried and true basic concepts that should be followed, no one can argue against all of them as many are simply wise and responsible tactics that should be adhered to. But, to truly drive success, we must find ways to be responsibly different in this world. At Schulz Wealth we are different, we are proud of our distinctions. We hire employees who see and think differently, we aren't afraid to try new roads, and we value aspiring world changers. And we've got to say, it has worked out pretty well for us.
In a world full of people who are held back from success because of their fear of looking different or making a mistake, allow yourself the freedom to at least try. Try new methods of saving toward your next financial goal, see what marketable talents you already have or that you could nurture within yourself, and research new investment opportunities. In our technology-centered reality, it has never been easy to find or express your difference. And we're willing to bet you won't regret taking the chance on yourself if you'll only try.
Consider what particular thing or things make you different from your competitors. What are they? How can they be used to your advantage, to drive your financial success, and boost your ceiling? Write it down and share it back with me. I would love to know!
These are our thoughts, have a great Thursday.
~ Rob Schulz, CFP