My favorite productivity coach of all time is David Allen, famed author of Getting Things Done.
When you first work with David’s concepts and materials, you think it is all about optimal levels of productivity…but you soon realize his methods also have a wonderful way of unleashing you from all the complexity and worry that often accompanies high levels of achievement.
In one of his audio recordings, he says: “Too controlled is out of control” and this immediately resonated with me. Actually, it articulated the “sweet spot” I have always aimed for as I created (and ultimately patented) Systems and Methods for Optimizing Wealth and most all of the other wealth and investment management systems, structures, support and tools I’ve created over the years. I always have heard that you can have a form of “unconscious competence” that serves you, but you can typically build upon it at an even higher level when you become aware of it and it becomes “conscious competence” – this was the case for me with this concept.
Whether you are seeking to better invest your money or seeking to be a better “depletion-resistant” wealth steward, my advice is to keep the “too controlled is out of control” insight in mind. Here are some tips:
- When investing, think in terms of a particular time frame and thesis for the investment which you expect it to perform well – such as 3 to 10 years in a slow to moderate GDP growth economic environment. Then, as you monitor the investment, avoid the too controlled is out of control syndrome. Here is how: First, you, or your adviser, should be carefully monitoring the investment over time and have some good checkpoints that confirms your investment thesis continues to hold for the targeted time frame – regardless of how the market happens to be pricing that investment at the time. This is a healthy checkpoint. If anything, if the market is currently pricing the investment much lower than your thesis, it is worthy of looking to add to the position. Conversely, if the market is significantly overpricing the investment, it could trigger a sell (earlier than originally intended). However, it would be unhealthy to overreact to and over-monitor any noise and natural volatility around the investment. Such overreactions are key contributors to the Investor Behavior Penalty (IBP) we talk about in our Evidence Based Investing White Paper. I believe IBP is a common byproduct of the “too controlled is out of control” problem.
- When managing your wealth, keep an eye on how much time and effort it takes to stay on top of where you are at. The time you spend often will be a sign of if you have a “too controlled is out of control” mentality about your money. Case in point, I once observed a client who tried to monitor every expense and every investment with exact precision pretty much on a daily basis. When I examined how he was doing things (very time consuming), I realized that while the approach had its benefits, it also had severe negative side-effects. He and his wife felt like the system he employed required so much work and effort that they either felt good he was on top of it – but bad how much time he expended or, if he stepped away a little and they had quality family time, he then felt bad that he was behind with his system. A perfect example of the “too controlled is out of control” syndrome. I shared with the couple two simple systems I devised over the years to have a good handle on the data while also not being obsessed and overwhelmed with too much complexity. A quick course-correction and they were on a much better path.
So, my two questions to clients, visitors and friends are:
- Where are you experiencing the “too controlled is out of control” syndrome? Spot and declare such domains as those you are seeking a “course correction.” Don’t worry if you have not yet found the solution, just spotting the issue is a huge step in the right direction.
- Where have you perhaps experienced the exact opposite? What I would call the “too little control, is out of control” syndrome? Here, I am referring to areas where you ignore, abuse, likely even can accurately say neglect – and as a consequence, experience other penalties. Spot and declare such domains as those you are also seeking a “course correction.”
Over-control, under-control – both can have huge negative consequences. A simple way to make profound improvements in your life is to examine both extremes and find solid solutions in the sweet spot somewhere in-between. Here at Janiczek® Wealth Management, we have devoted 25-years and counting to developing, refining and providing a sweet spot wealth and investment management solution to high and ultra-high net worth individuals. Let us know if we can help you take a look at some opportunities for improvement.