I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant with Tommy and Lauren when the subject of investments came up. “It was all a conspiracy, you know,” Tommy exclaimed. “I saw a show about it on television.”
“What was the conspiracy?” I wanted to know.
“The whole dot-com meltdown,” he replied. And then he went on to detail a massive conspiracy between the worldwide stock exchanges, the international investment bankers, brokerage houses, and the financial media. He went on to relate that he lost one million dollars from his portfolio during that time.
Ah, now it made sense...
You might not believe an intelligent, rational person could believe that the hundreds of thousands of employees in all those businesses – most who are competitors of each other – would all agree to collusion. And much more incredulous – could all keep it a secret.
But when he said that he’d lost a million dollars, it all made sense. Because look what the alternative was…
If there were no conspiracy, Tommy would have to accept responsibility for the fact that he had made enough poor errors in judgment to lose a million dollars. And that simply wasn’t possible for him to acknowledge.
Like a lot of people, he suffers from the delusion that he is an innocent victim of outside circumstances when things go wrong. As “evidence” of this conspiracy, he said, “Well all these analysts all told us the price to earnings ratios (P/E) didn’t matter.”
“Wait a minute,” I asked. “Did you honestly believe that a company that acquires customers, but loses money on each one is a good investment?”
“But they told us that didn’t matter!”
“The experts on TV, the investment newsletter editors.”
“They told you that making a profit wasn’t necessary? Do you understand that anyone can make a million dollars if they spend two million to get it? Have you ever heard of discernment?”
“But everyone said the P/E ratios didn’t matter!”
“Everyone? You’re telling me none of the investment services and newsletters warned you against putting all your money in cash-sucking black holes?”
“Well one did. But the other three all disagreed!”
“So the one wasn’t in the conspiracy? And all those other people were?”
There’s more, but you get the picture. We had to endure another twenty minutes of sinister conspiracy theories, till we were mercifully saved by the arrival of the Kung Pao chicken.
Why is it when good things happen people attribute them to skill, talent and intelligence? But when bad things happen they blame them on fate, circumstances, or bad luck?
We’re in a bad economy right now. Which offers tremendous opportunities. Or great excuses to validate failure.
So how are you doing on this? Do you believe you’re responsible for your current state of prosperity? Or do you blame it on outside factors?
P.S. I’m back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Love being here and looking forward to seeing many of you.