Dance Until Everybody’s Watching
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” — Satchel Paige (1906-82)
. . . and sing like you do when you’re alone and behind the wheel of your car. I’m not sure what happens to that amazing rock star or would-be opera sensation when I leave the car, but my serenades just aren’t the same as between Point A and Point B. Anybody else encounter that mystery?
Satchel Paige is part of the magical lore of baseball legend. He springs to mind almost every year as dreams develop in the hearts and minds of Americans with the start of yet another baseball season. Yes, I believe the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox will win it all someday.
If we could ask him, Paige would agree.
But Satchel transcends the sporting world. His words are about life itself. He’s often quoted, and you’ll recognize many of his gems.
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Every time I see that one I smile and think of people like Tom O’Hara and Ralph Seger and countless NAIC chapter volunteers who are so willing to share their investing experience with anybody who will listen. Many of them have a lot of years, but their spirit prevents them from having a lot of “age.”
Paige was timeless. We’re not even sure when he was born — it’s estimated that he was born on July 7, 1906. In 1965 he took the pitching mound for the last time, throwing three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics. Fifty-nine years old. Wow.
“You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for them all.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
“I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I would toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”
This is part of where the challenge that faces us resides. NAIC investing ain’t all that easy to see by this or the next generation. At least not yet.
And we simply have to find effective means of making this so.
During a recent strategy session, a group of us spent considerable time discussing the attributes of NAIC and investing better. One of the participants chimed in with: “These characteristics are all part of the better investing experience. However, what we do ‘here’ is really more about enabling individuals to access a lifetime of successful investing. We can point to case after case where an individual or group of people have experienced a favorable impact on their lives as a result of what we think of as investing better. Perhaps we ought to focus a little more on this notion of better.”
“I never had a job. I always played baseball.”
“Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”
NAIC holds a solution to many of the perplexing mysteries of investing. As Satchel suggests, this carries a responsibility, and it doesn’t have to be “work.” It’s part of our purpose.
Some recent surveys show that the average investor is generally miserable. We also know that NAIC investors are a bold exception. In exit surveys (from former members) conducted in February 2004, we asked them if NAIC made them better investors during the time they spent with us. Result: Yes — 73. No — 0.
The definitions for the word better include: being positive or desirable in nature, a good experience; having qualities that distinguish, serving a desired purpose; superior to the average, of high quality; complete, thorough, reliable, beneficial to health; and a condition of excellence.
All of this reconciles pretty well with my view of what investing better is all about. It’s a time-honored approach that’s ageless. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” It’s an interesting question and challenge.
Investing better. Enabling better futures. NAIC investors do not sing or dance alone.
Mark Robertson is the founder and managing partner of Manifest Investing, an investment research firm focused on strategic long-term principles. He served as senior contributing editor for NAIC/BetterInvesting from 1997 to 2004. This article was originally published in Better Investing in 2004.