A Luck-Proof Mindset

photo shows the question mark on the "Chance" square on a Monopoly game board

Once there was a farmer. Their horse ran away, and the neighbors cried, “What bad luck!” 

“Maybe,” said the farmer.  

The next day, the horse returned and brought with it some wild horses. The neighbors cried, “What good luck!” 

“Maybe,” said the farmer. 

The next day, the farmer’s grown child was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke their leg. “How unfortunate!” the neighbors cried. 

“Maybe,” said the farmer. 

The next day, the army came to the village to conscript all eligible individuals. The farmer’s child was passed over for their broken leg. “How fortunate!” cried the neighbors. 

“Maybe,” said the farmer. 

• • •

The Taoist parable of the farmer, relayed above, may have lessons for our experience in the market. Of course we’re interested in improving your positions over the long haul, but those twists, turns, and rumbles along the way… We don’t sweat day-to-day analysis. What we call things isn’t so important at that level, and the labels only matter when we zoom out. 

Let’s consider an example. A downturn may bring some immediate and seemingly negative impacts, right? But downturns also end up tilling the soil for future bargains. And a dip in one area inevitably sows the seeds of the next burst of progress. 

Would we ever characterize that cycle as all good or all bad? No way. Things become more relative in the long view. 

We’re certainly not suggesting that the best we hope for is a toss-up. But there’s no percentage trying to factor “good luck” or “bad luck” into our strategies and tactics. 

Instead, we can make a plan that keeps the seasons, the cycles, and the nature of change in perspective. Do we think this mindset will continue to serve us well? 


Investing involves risk including loss of principal. 

No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below: