“Runnin’ Down a Dream”

December 14, 2021

The holidays might provide some time to review our plans for the future. As inspiration, you could turn on some Tom Petty and listen to “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”  Petty’s lyrics tell the story of an open-road car ride down an endless highway in pursuit of a dream. The message is not just about the endgame, but the learnings along the way.  

Most people recognize that elite athletes need more than physical prowess to obtain “podium” medal results. A recent Harvard Medicine study of elite athletes confirmed the importance of “mental toughness”. According to the study peak performers with mental toughness had several key attributes. Let’s apply these attributes to financial goals.:  

1 – Pay meticulous attention to their personal goals.  Your financial plan is your roadmap. Pay close attention to the route.  

2- Possess a strong inner drive to stay ahead of their competition.  Think about the next turn in the road and always be innovating.  

3 – Concentrate hard on excellence rather than perfection.  Define excellence in your planning and know it well.  

4 – Do not get distracted by others.  In market meltdowns, there are plenty of doubters so stick to your plan and don’t let your emotions derail your planning. Have a vision and be steadfast.

5 – Shrug off failures.  Use failures to learn. Long-term investing will inevitably include some failures along the way.  

6 – Never talk yourself down.  Have self-esteem and think positively about yourself in the context of your plan.

7 – Always analyze and evaluate their performance.  When Nick Saban wins the game on Saturday, he might celebrate that evening, but on Sunday morning he’s already studying the game films well before others have had their morning coffee. Be a planner, be an executor, but don’t forget to analyze your plan and evaluate your performance regularly. The Covid market meltdown in early 2020 was a great opportunity to learn what worked and what can be improved.

8 – Always have confidence.  Confidence comes from practice and execution but is also enhanced by the others around who are also equally confident. Confidence breeds confidence. Many years ago we developed our firm to move beyond a platform of traditional public market products to include new opportunities in private investments which we source and diligence ourselves. This transition occurred as we gained confidence in our investment assessment abilities. 

In the recent SEC Championship Game, the Georgia football team was dethroned from their number one ranking. It seemed that Alabama not only had better-skilled players but was armed with greater mental toughness. The Harvard playbook on mental toughness is probably well-known in Tuscaloosa. I wonder what Nick Saban is doing to prepare his team for the College Football Playoffs. No doubt, mental toughness will be a part of their preparation. How Coach Kirby Smart and his Bull Dawg players will respond to their defeat? Like all of us, they will need to be mentally tough to reach their goals.

Gary Martin