Color vs Black and White

Are you sure? This is a question that I have chosen to ask myself on a regular basis lately. This idea comes from Thich Nhat Hanh - as a way to encourage us to get unstuck from rigid perceptions. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr. for his efforts in generating peace and reconciliation in his native country. 

A lot of us have likely heard the phrase “your perception is your reality”. I have recently been having a conversation with a common theme, with people from different areas of my life. Without even noticing, it seems that I have adopted a certain ‘operating system ‘the past handful of months relating to my perception of the world. This way of approaching the world has had a profoundly positive effect on my life and the experience of each day. 

I have chosen to approach each situation with an open mind and decided to ‘try something on’ for a few days before I make a snap judgment. Rather than automatically discounting an idea or method because it doesn’t currently fit into ‘my reality’, why not try that idea on for a few days and take it for a test drive to see the true effects? 

Let’s apply this to a real world situation that we all experience….food. We all eat at sometime or another, right? If you have spent any significant time in the health and nutrition world in the past five years, you will notice common themes across any eating approach (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc.). One theme that almost all camps agree with is the need for fat in our food. I remember growing up learning how ‘unhealthy’ fat was and how this stuff ‘can clog our arteries’. That position has changed in a big way. That is a great example of a shift of perception that affects all of us on a daily basis. 

How does all of this apply to wealth management and investments? Well, if I only consider myself a specific style investor (value vs. growth) or only invest in certain asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate, privately held companies) I am likely missing out on opportunities outside of my narrow scope, and possibly missing out on opportunities for clients. If I am not open to learning more about creative tax and estate strategies for clients, they are missing out on even more opportunities. So it is in my best interest, (along with my clients) to stay open minded, curious and always continue learning. 

This doesn’t mean that everything will always stick, but at least ‘try the idea on’ for a few days (or months) and see the true effects. It almost feels like seeing the world in vivid color vs. black and white.