My good friend Dewitt Jones, who was instrumental in helping me set the course for my book, You Should Only Have to Get Rich Once, just recently spoke at an event in Chicago. If you have not seen Dewitt speak, it is something I highly recommend. As a former photographer for National Geographic for over 30 years, he always has something interesting to say.
In the hundreds of events he has spoken at, one question, one frustrating question keeps coming up over and over again: “How many good pictures do you get out of one roll of film?”
He would quickly respond that they were asking the wrong question (if only life were so simple). Instead, he would ask them, how many rolls of film would you use, how early would you get up, how long would you sit in the rain, what are you willing to commit to get that one picture? The perfect image rarely happens on cue and it is never easy. He was an exceptional photographer because he was not afraid to take thousands of pictures. He was searching for the perfect image and just kept taking pictures until it appeared in the viewfinder. Because, in the end, the only question that matters is “Did you get it”?
Financial planning can take a lesson from the pursuit of the perfect photograph. If you wait for the perfect situation and perfect ending, you will fail. Trial and error is a necessary component for success. You cannot script good things to happen. You can only create the right process, right thinking and a willingness to keep trying. Every failure is an opportunity.
It is my belief and one that success often involves failure. Fail often and you will find success. Just make sure that each failure is measurable because if you over commit to one situation and fail, you don’t get to fail again which means you won’t succeed. Life seldom works out as we plan and financial planning is no exception. Markets and investments have ups and downs and successful weathering those ebbs and flows requires the ability to continually learn from failure and be willing to keep trying.
As you set out to create your ideal financial picture, remember that the amount success you achieve is often directly proportional to how much you are willing to put into achieving your goals.The average National Geographic article has about 30 pictures. Dewitt would take 40,000 pictures to find those right answers. After all, a roll of film is cheap relative to the reward.