Unconventional Wisdom

I once heard billionaire investor Warren Buffett say that the time to invest is when the herd is trying to get out of the market, as that is when the deals are to be had. In other words, he was advocating a contrarian philosophy of investing, which requires one to disregard conventional wisdom in favor of the unconventional type. It is not always easy to do or else everyone would do it, but it pays rich dividends.

And it takes guts to think and act counter to popular culture also. When the American Dream is defined as owning your home and you opt out to try a different mode of living it can cause people to question your sanity. I know because we’ve experienced it. While most of our loved ones have been supportive of the transitional lifestyle we embarked upon about three years ago, some simply didn’t get it, and that’s okay. But the rub comes when you step out to follow your dreams anyhow.

When I was asked in college by a fraternity brother during the initiation process to describe myself in two words, I replied: “conservatively unorthodox,” and I still think that comes pretty close to capturing it. Standing out isn’t that hard to do if you are willing to question assumptions and challenge the status quo. As the saying goes: “it’s hard to fly with eagles when you flock with turkeys” [and are too chicken to try].

Speaking of fowl, I am reading a profoundly insightful book called The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and he writes: “Not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking. You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice…You have far more control over your life if you decide on your criterion by yourself.” Amen.