Don’t Dwell on Negativity

Coming home from a Salt Lake visit we flew the whole way under Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR, which means we were in the clouds. An IFR rating is very valuable, evidenced by a couple of younger pilots sitting in the airport lobby watching me take off, while they  waited for the skies to clear. An IFR rating also adds a higher level of safety since sometimes non-IFR pilots find themselves unexpectedly in deteriorating weather conditions.
 
When I was studying for my IFR certification my instructor spent a lot of time reminding me that when you are flying in the clouds, or on a dark night without a horizon, it is very easy for the body’s senses to be fooled. The clouds flying past your windshield have a way of distorting those senses. This is why an instrument pilot is taught to focus on the instruments and trust them, regardless of what the physical senses are saying.
 
This point was made clear on one training event when my instructor took me into the clouds and told me to hold the plane straight and level without looking at the instruments. It was a challenging experience. At one point I sensed the plane pitching up so I gently lowered the nose to keep it in a proper level flight. My instructor asked how I felt and I told him I was pretty confident in my orientation. He then directed my attention at the instruments which showed I was actually rolling pretty hard to the right and headed downward. I was stunned and remember feeling very strongly that the instruments were wrong.
 
He then taught me a great lesson. He told me that if I am in darkness and I dwell on the darkness, then the darkness will disorient me and my life will be in danger. He pointed to my brightly lit array of computer instruments and said, “When you are flying in darkness, this is your light – stay focused on the light.” It was an impactful lesson.
 
Investors spend significant effort worrying about the endless negative news and considering all the things that could possibly go wrong. Dwelling on the “darkness” they become financially  disoriented and fail to see the wonderful world of possibilities ahead of them.
 
As I have continued my study of our nation’s greatest investors I am continually impressed that none I have found so far made their fortunes being pessimistic. In fact, the only really successful pessimists I am aware of made their fortunes selling negativity, not investing in it.
 
It is good to be aware of the risks we face, but American history teaches that optimism has always won out, sometimes against some very high odds. I advise investors to not be ignorant of the darkness, but in seeking good investing ideas, they should do as the greatest investors before them and always look for the light.