17 Feb 2022 “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
The title for this blog comes from the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, though I first heard it on an Optimist Club baseball field in Southern Pines, North Carolina when I was in fifth or sixth grade. I was playing third base–with a habit for rushing throws and air-mailing the first baseman–when Coach Sprouse uttered what I think is word for word the greatest sporting admonishment of all time: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” In that particular case, the issue was me not trusting my arm, approaching the art of fielding third base with a certain frantic energy. But the pithy saying is applicable not only in baseball and sport, but in every arena of life, because “Be quick, but don’t hurry” is really all about moving with purpose and intent.
A bull market does many things, but what it does primarily is make lots of people hurry. There is an abundance of that certain frantic energy that I showed as a 12-year old playing third base. Purpose and intent, precision, these are not the words I would use to describe most of the conversations I overhear in public on the subject of investing, even between those who should know better. Prior to COVID, I would often hear lunchtime chatter at the YMCA between two gentlemen, discussion their complex and completely nonsensible options positions. Now, and this is not hyperbole, I cannot go anywhere without hearing someone talking about “crypto.” Not a particular kind of cryptocurrency, and not a cogent argument for use cases or how particular blockchain technologies will see uptake into the broader economic system. Instead, what I hear is people talking about “crypto” like the way we Southerners talk about “Coke.” We may want a Sprite, but we still say Coke. And that’s fine when it comes to soda, but when it comes to saving and investing, I’m going to say it’s not ideal.
This blog is not a skeptic’s case against cryptocurrencies as such (though, yes, I am mostly a skeptic), but rather a case against hurry, and “crypto” is one of the more obvious cases of hurry that I see. There are others. Hurrying to buy too much house, hurrying to spend raises, hurrying to retire, and sometimes perhaps the worst of all: Hurry for its own sake, like it’s the virtue that Aristotle forgot about.
The problems with hurry fall into two buckets: First, Hurrying begets errors. Airmailing first base is one thing, but dealing with the ramifications of financial loss or ruin as a result of hurrying is most certainly a different thing altogether. Second, Hurrying is no way to live. It inevitably produces anxiety, and it generally tends toward dissonance—I.e., the values you hold most dearly do not get acted upon in a state of hurry.
Purpose and intent require practice. You don’t get swept up into purpose and intent. There are no shortcuts or hacks that you can put into a cute LinkedIn post to make purpose and intent easier. It’s hard work. But the thing is, over long enough stretches of time, the practice of purpose and intent almost invariably produce a quickness that hurry can’t hold a candle to. In moments of stress, when hurry breaks down our values, the quickness produced by purpose and intent means our values have become reflexes. In moments of euphoria, when hurry gets caught up in the moment, quickness allows us a healthy detachment and sense of perspective.
Hurry is easy to do as an anonymous individual in a mob. It’s much harder as a committed member of a team. And we at Beacon may not be coaches per se, but we have built our entire practice around the idea of providing a team-like environment where the hard work of purpose and intent can be practiced, day in and day out. Let us know how we can practice together with you.