Jarl Magnus Riiber was on his way to a podium finish in the Nordic combined at the Beijing Olympics. He found himself on the cross country course with a massive 44 second lead. He’d recorded the longest and highest-scoring ski jump earlier that day. Endless hours of work and training were all about to pay off for the 24 year old Norwegian. Then Jarl got confused. He started going the wrong way on the course. It took him about 15 seconds to realize his mistake. By the time he got turned around and back on track, his lead was gone. He finished in 8th place. Fifteen seconds. One mistake. That’s all it took to unravel years of dedication.
Rhonda worked as a nurse in Australia for 44 years. For over four decades she worked and saved. She was ready to retire. That’s when she saw an ad online about investing in crypto currency. Rhonda decided to set up an account and invest some of her life savings. Early on, she started to see positive returns. She would receive emails and regular phone calls from the company she’d invested with. Rhonda even said she’d built a “good rapport” with some of the employees of the company. Rhonda continued adding to her account thinking she’d found the golden ticket to an even better retirement than she’d imagined. Then it all went wrong. Within months of setting up her account, Rhonda logged in to find her balance at zero. Her money was gone. The company ended up being a group of scammers. They’d taken her entire life savings.
It took her four decades to unlock her freedom only to hand over the key in a matter of months.
Destruction Is Swift
The Titanic took 26 months to construct. That’s 19,000 hours. The ship sank in under three.
The Hindenburg took five years to be completed. The blimp was eviscerated in 32 seconds.
It took 14 years of construction and 200,000 tons of steel to erect the twin towers. Less than two hours after the planes hit them, the towers collapsed to the ground.
Careers take a lifetime to build and one scandal—or one tweet—to destroy.
A natural disaster or a terrorist attack only needs minutes to take hold and change the world forever.
Creating a lifestyle worth living usually takes years or even decades. One bad decision is all it takes to put you back at the starting line.
Growth Takes Time
Remember that 99% of Warren Buffet’s net worth came after he turned 50. And 97% came after he turned 65.
Success with building wealth boils down to making lots of small good decisions while avoiding the big bad ones. You can get the former right for years—even decades—before the latter sneaks in and takes you down.
Your goal shouldn’t be to earn a big return in one year. Your goal should be to earn good returns for an uncommon amount of time. A 25% return once is cool. A 50% return in one year is amazing. A 12% return for 30 years is life changing. You don’t have to be an exceptional investor to get an exceptional result. You have to be patient and disciplined. You have to avoid distraction and let time do its work.
As Charlie Munger points out,
“The most important rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily”
Progress is slow, destruction is swift. That’s important to remember when building wealth.
Don’t feel too much pressure to always make the right choice. Sometimes you simply just have to avoid the big mistake.
Here’s to making money matter!