I’m reading this really interesting book, “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder” by Eric Abrahamson & David H. Freedman. It’s quite liberating. The authors discuss several dozen instances when the lack of order (within a home, an organization, a traffic system etc…) brought about serendipitous discoveries, saved time, and even generated wealth.
For the past year, since starting my own business, I’ve vacillated between organizing several aspects of my schedule and work flow to organizing very few. Surprisingly, I’ve benefitted by less organization in some areas (I’ve experienced serendipitous meetings via lots of synchronicity/”coincidences”) and more organization in others (blocking out specified times to accomplish specific tasks). Somehow, however, I feel naughty by being less orderly. Maybe it’s my upbringing and/or culture. Perhaps society expects a financial planner to be highly organized. But my best work is often creative, which can only come about if I’m open to experiencing and nurturing creativity by being a little less orderly.
Allow me to share a quote from the book with you. “If we were always good at recognizing our powerlessness to control randomness – that is, if we fully accepted how disordered the world is – we might too often become paralyzed by indecision or hopelessness. Being quick to imagine that we can assert order and improve the odds to a greater degree than we actually can is often what inspires us to act boldly.”
Things that make you say “Hmmmm….”.
Some month’s ago I blogged about the illusion of control. I think the quote above hits home; we want (need?) to feel like we can control certain aspects of our lives. As a financial planner, I get this, and respect it, but calmly and confidently remind my clients that the only thing they can control is their decisions, and that’s why I place so much emphasis on helping them make good ones.
There is a feature used in many financial software programs called “Monte Carlo Simulation”. *I promise not to bore you with this* This form of projection uses random figures, rather than average (orderly) figures, to arrive at a more accurate picture of the results. Because, after all, the stock market makes random movements; it doesn’t plot along one step up (or down) at a time. Likewise, inflation doesn’t remain at constant levels. The software programmers have been able to capture the essence of financial markets – their randomness- to help us planners advise our clients more effectively. But even with this tool, clients are advised that it’s only a projection, not a prediction.
So, to borrow a few lines from The Serenity Prayer, I intend to “accept the things I cannot change”, muster “the courage to change the things I can”, and possess “the wisdom to know the difference.”