First Flight, the Webb Telescope, & Gaining Perspective

July 18, 2022

I’m not the world’s greatest flyer.

The first time I flew was in my 20s and I was a bit of a wreck. I felt dizzy and clammy. Anxious would sum it up rather nicely.

That wasn’t all though.

Looking down from tens of thousands of feet in the sky upon the smattering of lookalike houses in the suburbs and hundreds of cars and trucks zooming up and down highways going about their “important” business gave me some needed perspective.

I, sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a tube soaring through the air, was small. Quite small in the scope of things.

Perspective has a way with handing out humility.

Some of our problems these days, like I wrote about last time, is that we are so caught up in the right now that it can anesthetize us from big picture and long-term thinking.

We all could use a little perspective.

Maybe flying doesn’t do that to you. If not, stare at the recently released mind-boggling Webb Space Telescope pictures.

Star formation. Galactic abundance. Breathtaking.

Space is humongous. Imbibed with gargantuan wonder.

What does this have to do with your portfolio and the wider economy? Nothing and everything.

The feeling of smallness doesn’t have to be debilitating. It can be invigorating.

It can set us on a wiser path. Reminding us not to get hung up on the present, but to embrace the wisdom of zooming out and getting a bigger perspective.

We can then take the actions we need to take in the present—be it in portfolios or in your life—because we are guided by an outlook larger than the immediate now.

One of the most important things we learn as financial advisors is the importance of time horizon when delivering investment advice. This is because the advice of the now needs to be influenced by the future. If you get swallowed up in the moment through dopamine injecting devices and incessant marketing built on self-fulfillment, you will get immediate gratification and you might also be making some really stupid decisions for your future self.

So take a plane ride, look through a telescope, and stare at the sky. Look above you. Both literally (stop bending down at your screens) and metaphorically.

Get some perspective.