I sit on my back deck, look out at my little piece of paradise, and think how fortunate I am. Very often visitors to our place will tell us how lucky we are to have it, but I can tell you luck had nothing to do with it. In my mind, there is a great deal of difference between good luck and good fortune.
Like most things, living where we do comes at a cost. Sacrifices have been made, costs incurred, alternatives closed off, because we chose to live where we do. It comes at a cost, but is a cost we are delighted to incur. Our good fortune also comes with two hours a day commute, about 700 kilometres a week, endless hours of maintaining the property (the garden just gets bigger), no town water, few regular social excursions (it’s too far, and who wants to do even more driving), paying for garbage collection, and no Takeaway! (fish and chips get cold and soggy by the time you get them home).
So when someone tells me I’m lucky, my usual reply is “Not lucky, fortunate, and you can be too, if you want to be”. My view is that luck is something that happens to you, and is not impacted by any action or decision on your part. Good fortune is something that you can actively pursue, and you should.
I love The Lord Of The Rings by J R R Tolkien. I first read the book in Year 9 at high school (too many years ago to divulge when that was!) and when I finished it, I immediately started at page one and read it again so transported was I. I must have re-read it a dozen times since, and no doubt I will again. I am also a fan of the Peter Jackson movie series, and fondly remember spending every Boxing Day for 3 years being transported in a different way to Middle-Earth. I was quite upset at the conclusion of “The Return of The King” that the journey was over, but again I have spent the last two Boxing Days watching The Hobbit and am eagerly looking forward to the final instalment this year.
The central theme of this epic story is a journey, as most great stories are. At several points in the journey, the characters are given a choice of paths which they can take which they hope will lead them to their desired destination. Sometimes the choices end in a dead end, such as the Fellowship’s ill fated journey over Caradhras, sometimes the choice that they make leads to disaster, such as when they choose the path through Moria, sometimes members of the company have to take different paths, all with the same aim of arriving where they need to be.
I was talking to a friend the other day about her upcoming holiday. “We only booked economy, but we’re hoping for an upgrade” she said. Because the lady concerned is a good friend, and I didn’t want to offend or insult her, I just smiled. What I really wanted to point out was that she clearly didn’t want to travel Business Class badly enough.
There are a couple of implications of this kind of behaviour which apply to much more in life than just airline transport. The first is that you have no control over your outcome, and could be relying on someone else to deliver the positive outcome that you desire. This is depending on luck to go your way (and it often doesn’t). You turn up at the airport counter with your fingers and everything else crossed, looking forward to a little extra comfort on your 26 hour flight to London, and find yourself sitting next to a front row forward AND his three children in the middle section of Row 75, By the way your seat is between him and his kids.
The worst storm for some time hit our place on the evening of 14th October 2014, with heavy rain, strong winds and just generally miserable conditions. It was cold also, the Blue Mountains experienced snow storms which cut the rail line in October, almost exactly a year since devastating bushfires had ravaged the area.
So I am sitting here in the dark, (thankfully my laptop still has some battery power) writing this post and musing on what it means to be ready. Where we live, not being prepared for an electricity outage such as we are experiencing now, and have since about 14 hours ago is a pretty important loss of service….
In recent years there has been much written about the need for detailed business plans, and in fact a whole industry has sprung up built on developing business plans at great expense to the business owner, who has somehow become convinced that this is an essential ingredient for success.
I was sitting in my dentist’s chair the other day, after my umpteenth visit, yet another root canal over, when he suggested I had some other problems that he needed to discuss with me. Once I had mentally checked my bank balance and contemplated another series of hours staring at his ceiling I agreed to a chat. Having explained the problem, given me a range of solutions, the likely outcomes of each, and what it might cost, I asked him the obvious question “Well, what would you do?” Now I like my dentist and he doesn’t hurt me, and his ceiling is quite interesting in its own way, but I really needed more than “I can’t decide that for you, they’re your teeth!” This got me thinking about the nature of advice and what our clients and customers expect of us.
I don’t know how many times I have had people say to me “Superannuation is a lousy investment” or “I don’t believe in Superannuation”. Statements like these come about because the person making them doesn’t really understand what superannuation is.
Simply put superannuation is not an investment at all, much less a lousy one, it is simply a tax advantaged vehicle for accumulating wealth. The government provides taxation concessions in respect of contributions to and income earned by superannuation funds, as an incentive to encourage people to set aside funds for their retirement. The hope is that if people are sufficiently encouraged to make provision for their own retirement, the government won’t have to.