“If you had actually read it, you would have noticed the second signature line”, declared the man across the counter. My immediate response was “it’s not intended to be read, just to protect you from being sued by me”. I quickly signed and minutes later my 14 year-old son and I were banging away at targets at the new indoor firing range close to my home.
The next morning I was reading “Turn the Ship Around” by L. David Marquet; a great book about the authors experiences as Captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered attack submarine. He was describing a safety breach that occurred when a sailor was hooking up shore power, a fairly routine task where errors can be catastrophic. I thought back to the previous day. Why did I rush through all of the safety rules that had been provided to me in writing?
It would have taken me a few more minutes to read through the five pages of rules and disclosures. Granted, much of it was probably useless lawyer talk, but my son’s and my safety was directly related to the rules and guidelines of the facility. Upon reflection, reading the paperwork would have been well worth my while.
There are many instances where we should be intentional and deliberate about what we are doing. Gun ranges are a perfect example, but for those of us who work in an office environment, it nearly always involves paperwork. Reading disclosures and technical information, especially if it’s not something I am interested in, can be mind-numbing.
My office spits out a lot of paperwork to our clients in the form of Privacy Statements, account management agreements, trade confirmations, Investment Policy Statements, and these things called “ADV”’s. I know much of it can be as intimidating as “War and Peace”, but there is some good information too. When clients take the time to read our paperwork, it allows for greater understanding and better dialogue. Many times, misunderstandings can be dealt with early before they become problems.
In retrospect, it was pretty silly of me to just waltz into an unfamiliar gun range without reading the rules. I have handled guns my whole life without mishap. In order to continue the streak, I need to be intentional about reading the information that is provided. The same holds true in many instances.