“Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.” E.M. Forster
“Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.” E.M. Forster
Let’s say I was in the market for a new vehicle which had a cost of $20,000. Pretend I woke up one morning to find that my local car dealership was having a sale, and the cost of the vehicle I wanted had now dropped to $15,000.
Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t be able to get to the dealership quickly enough with my wallet in hand! Now, let’s say that same vehicle, overnight, went from costing $20,000 to $30,000. In this case, I would likely start exploring other options.
Here’s the fun part: Replace the word vehicle with the word investment.
For the average investor, their behaviour becomes the exact opposite. An investor hears about the next great thing for which the price has increased by 50 per cent overnight; and they can’t wait to go out and ‘get in on the action.’ Likewise, if they hold an investment that drops from $20,000 to $15,000, they decide they want to sell and ‘cut their losses.’
We’ve all heard the adage: buy low – sell high. Most would agree that makes perfect sense, however, it proves to be much more difficult in practice. The psychological reason for this will be the subject of a future article.
The following is an example based on historical data and is in no way an indication of future performance. A famous study conducted by Dalbar reported that the average stock fund for the 20-years between 1994-2013 had a return of 8.7 per cent. Over that same period, the average investor in that stock fund had a return of 5.0 per cent.
The reason for this is that while investors were chasing returns, star managers, and trying to time the market, they were accomplishing nothing more than eroding their returns. A 3.7 per cent penalty to those who thought they could outsmart the market!
I just finished reading a book which said that if you want to be successful in life, simply do the opposite of what everyone else does. It appears that for the 20-year period from 1994-2013, at least, that this was very sage advice!
Jed Levene MBA(FS) 2013 is President, Rockwater Wealth Management Limited and Investment Representative of Quadrus Investment Services ltd. He is a Certified Financial Planner® and holds a certificate in Behavioural Finance from Duke University. His articles on financial planning appear regularly on Orillia Today, Simcoe.com, CEGE Connection is pleased to advise that Jed has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CEGE Connection.
“I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.” George Bernard Shaw
Completing my MBA has always been a goal of mine however, over the years there were conflicting priorities that seemed to continuously push this dream to the bottom of the pile. After my undergrad, I focused, like many, on putting more money into my bank account than I was taking out. As time went by, my emphasis shifted to establishing a career versus maintaining a job. The thought of going back to school drifted further down my priority list. During this time, I had two other passions that kept me very busy. My favourite, of course, was building my beautiful family, including my children of now 14 and 12 years of age. The other, was competing at a competitive level in the sport of curling, which I have done since a was a young girl. When the thought of pursuing an MBA crossed my mind, I questioned when and how I would fit the demands of a robust academic undertaking into what already seemed an aggressive schedule?
It wasn’t until I was working at the bank that my goal of an MBA came up in casual conversation with my manager, a dear friend and great mentor to me. She challenged me to consider my options and opened my eyes to the value that an MBA would give me on a professional level as well as the personal feeling of accomplishment. Within six months, I applied to the DAL program and received my acceptance, giving little consideration on how I would integrate studies into my schedule. It was a leap of faith that, in the end, taught me that being busy is just a frame of mind.
My time at DAL taught me many things but time management stands out beyond any others. I learned to be selfish with my schedule, efficient with administrative tasks and productive at a very early hour! It also taught me to stop and enjoy the little things along the way. As strange as it sounds, I valued the time with my husband and children more and felt that I gave them more of ‘me’ during our time together because I knew that there was less of it to go around. My children reminded me of this very important lesson and even when deadlines became tight, I knew I was deviating too far when they came to sit on the floor in my office. No words were usually spoken but I knew that I needed to walk away and be Mom and not student for a while.
Looking back, I am happy that my life delayed my pursuit of an MBA for a few reasons. Although throughout the program I said many times that I wished I had started sooner, I feel the experience I had from my career made my journey more fulfilling. I was able to relate to the material better; I was able to put the learnings into action at work; and I felt that I cared more about studying than I did throughout my Undergrad – what I difference that made! I also think that my maturity is what made it possible to complete my MBA without sacrificing any of the passions I had in my life. I continued to develop my career, I was available for my family and I still competed at a National level in curling.
Above all, having the ability to share the experience with my children made waiting worthwhile. We had ups and downs of course but seeing how my journey has impacted on how they view schoolwork, time management and prioritization in general, are invaluable lessons that are difficult to teach without going through the experience of my MBA. I was proud to walk across the stage, knowing my children were in the audience, recognizing that they felt the same pride and honour – something I hope they never forget.
Heather Heggestad, MBA Class of 2019 is Vice President, Equipment Finance at RBC.
From all of us at CEGE Connection, we send out warm wishes for a Happy Valentine’s Day.
We hope you celebrate it by doing all the things you love.
Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
Delinquo ergo supero – “I have failed, therefore I will succeed” (rough translation)
Delapsus/Delapsa surrexi — “Having fallen, I have arisen.” (Delapsa for female)
Orta recens quam pura nites – “Newly risen, how brightly you shine.”
Not too long ago, I wrote a blog piece about the Human Condition and the Leadership Condition. As a refresher, the Human Condition is the interplay between the viva activa (active life) and viva contemplativa (contemplative life) – Hannah Arendt. I then went to describe the Leadership Condition, as “viva praetōrēs” (leader of life), as the cognitive stasis in the mind of the leader that lets them focus on the betterment of their followers. Here the leader is not just someone with a specific title or leadership role in an organization, but everyone, regardless of their station in life. For someone to be a leader of life, they must have needed to try, fail, overcome failure, continue to try, and whether success comes or not, they do not give up. For they are always rising, never afraid to try.
Fear is crippling. Jones, Papadakis, Orr, & Strauman (2013), writing about the cognitive
processes in response to goal failure, found that when people fail to make progress towards their personal goals (including professional ones), they get sucked into an intensifying and self-reinforcing loop of negative emotional (affective) states of anxiety and depression. Such a paralyzing state can prevent people from trying anything, let alone anything new. Is it mindset (Dweck, 2007)? Or is it something deeper, ingrained in our genetic code that prevents us from trying, so we don’t fail, and therefore we survive. The survival of the physical body, ensures that we live to fight another day or is it live to run away another day? These are questions I do not have the answers to, but can definitely postulate that early in our childhood, some conditioning (either genetic or by nurture) appears to have placed an extraordinary amount of emphasis on success and that failure has to be shunned at all costs. Despite this, there exist people who are not afraid to try, but are heavily outnumbered by most people who are afraid to try for the fear of failing.
Having set out to write about failure, the business of failure (there is a big business there on failure – self-help stuff, self-help gurus, motivational literature/gurus etc.), and the idea of failing to even try, I feel I have to touch on two connected topics – 1] Mental Health and 2] Assessment and Performance Evaluation. For the first, neither do I have the expertise nor the knowledge to comment about, other than that being aware of the impact of conditioning someone against failure and its effect on mental health or vice versa, is a first step in learning to recognize it, in oneself and others, and doing what needs to be done to help someone deal with it. For the second, while assessment and performance evaluation are expected to be objective, context driven, and bias free, they are often far from any of them. People, constantly in fear of being judged, assessed, and evaluated and expecting the outcomes of these judgements/assessments to be critical of them as people, tend to do just enough to get by and not do anything innovative, for fear of failure.
In the educational sphere, one assumes that the primary purpose of any assessment is to improve the student’s progress towards their learning outcomes, while informing the educator of the appropriate steps they would need to take to scaffold this progress. The educator provides diagnostic, summative, normative, and formative assessment on the student’s performance, part of which can be the recognition that in each of these cases, the student’s perception is that they did not “meet” or “exceed” certain criteria, laid out by the teacher, and hence are receiving that particular feedback. While teachers are trained in providing such feedback, students often are not and learning to deal with each kind of feedback needs them to become resilient and adopt different learning habits to progress towards their goals. So, if they “did not meet” the criteria, is there an explicit or implicit sense of “failure”. I believe teachers are trained not to use the term failure. Is there is a difference when people use “did not meet the criteria/expectations” or “did not pass”, or “failed”?
Cut to the workplace, performance evaluation on a job or task is conducted on a regular basis for all employees regardless of their title or position in the organization. A CEO’s performance is evaluated by the Board of Directors in quite the same way as an intern’s is by their supervisor. Performance management at the workplace, however, has had its share of issues over the years, particularly with respect to defining the metrics for success (often not aligned properly), the standards for achieving the metrics are unreasonable or too high, feedback is sparse for detailed feedback is time consuming, and follow up can appear to be micromanaging, and a host of other issues that are specific to an organization. In this context, the impact of any assessment, particularly the poor ones, good or bad, can be stressful on employees and begin to take a toll on the mental disposition of the employees.
In the effort to manage poor performance, whether at school or at work, one might need to consider the vagaries of assessment rubrics or the lack of any, how assessment criteria are set up, the impact that assessment is likely to have on an individual’s mental disposition and actual improvement on their performance, their preparedness to accept feedback and deal with setbacks when the assessment is not positive, and finally, does it mean that they succeeded or failed or whether they are themselves successes or failures.
The key, I surmise, then appears to be the ability of the assessor (educator or work place manager or even a parent) to teach their wards (students, direct reports, or children) to build some resilience to face obstacles in their progress towards an effort (learning, work task, or behaviors). If we can train people to strive for progress, while understanding that there will be times when the progress will be halted or slowed down and if they failed at a task, it is not because of lack of trying, but for probably some other underlying or overt cause, then there will be progress. Part of this training is to allow people to reflect on their efforts towards completing the task. This will allow them the space and time to figure out why they did not complete the task successfully, learn from it, and possibly overcome the obstacles the next time around. The reflection on why the effort failed or stalled, will allow them to identify the cause(s) and progress. Such an effort by educators and managers will allow people a safer way to manage their work, their own stress levels, and have a positive impact on their performance. People may then try something new, something different, or something innovative, for they are not afraid to try.
Maybe, then, failure is an option?
Binod Sundararajan, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Management and Associate Director at the Rowe School of Business teaching International & Intercultural Management for undergrads and Sustainable leadership for the MBA. He has been awarded the A. Gordon Archibald Award. His Selected Publications include “Using stakeholder role play in business cases to teach management and communication” and “Lean, Ethical Business Communication”.
Editor’s Note: We are grateful to The Dalhousie Business Review for allowing us to republish this article on CEGE Connection.
“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Every university has a legend. Dalhousie is no exception!
Every year on the first Friday of February – this year February 7, 2020 – Dalhousie closes its doors to celebrate Munro Day. And for good reason. Without George Munro, Dalhousie University would merely be a page in a history book.
George Munro, born in 1825 near the once active shipping port of Pictou, Nova Scotia, did not attend Dalhousie, nor did he follow his first career choice of becoming a Presbyterian minister. Instead, he made his way to New York City and fulfilled his destiny in the printing and publishing business, amassing great wealth in the process. Even so, his loyalty and attachment to Nova Scotia prevailed. When Dalhousie faced extinction, his gifts brought life and independence to the fledgling institution.
The man who published light fiction and an inexpensive story paper called “The Fireside Companion” recognized the power of education. He endowed Dalhousie chairs in physics, history, political economy, English literature and philosophy.
George Munro’s legacy is a reminder that individual contributions to education, even those seemingly small, generate positive outcomes for society.