The Parable of the Man and the Pebbles

Mar 26, 2020 / By William Smith
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What’s the impact of facing the challenge and extending ourselves in these difficult times?

One night a man woke up from a dream. In the dream, a voice had told him to go down to the beach and gather pebbles. The voice told him that the next morning, he would be both happy and sad.

So, he did. He went down to the beach and put pebbles in his pockets. He came back home and went back to sleep. When he woke and emptied his pockets, he discovered to his great surprise that all the pebbles were in reality various kinds of precious jewels: diamonds, rubies and emeralds.

He was happy that he had picked up the pebbles that turned out to be precious stones. But he was sad that he had not picked up more!

One day these difficult economic and COVID-19 times will be over.

When that happens, you and I will be happy for every client we reached out to during this time. We will have cemented a stronger relationship with them and will have comforted them during this fearful time. We will have given what answers we had. And while we couldn’t predict the future, we could certainly share our experience and past history of market events. We may even pick up a few low-priced investments at these levels. Our clients will likely marvel at the prices of those in a few years.

But in a few weeks or months, or even years, we will be sad that we did not talk to more clients during this time. Sad that we did not pick up more of these precious pebbles.

The difference is that, unlike this man in his dream, we pretty much know that these pebbles will turn into precious stones down the road. Precious investments or precious strengthened relationships.

Yes, those conversations may be difficult. But let’s pick up some pebbles today. As the great Nick Murray has said, and I quote from memory, “I don’t know which direction the next 20% move in the market will be. But I am absolutely certain about which direction the next 100% move in the market will be.”

William Y. Smith, CFP, a financial advisor since 1980, has written hundreds of popular articles for a major NYSE firm as well as for Horsesmouth, and is the author of The Happy Advisor.

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