A Lesson from the Past (#1)

Quarry Climbing

In order to make sure you do not fail at ANYTHING in life, you must study the past.  More specifically, you must study the history of your current pursuit in which you want to succeed.  Studying art history does not help with an environmental engineering degree.

I didn’t understand this when I was studying to become an engineer.  (Note to my parents: Don’t read the next few sentences)  Rather than study the history of my specific engineering specialty, I spent my time studying investment theory (specifically stocks) and rock climbing techniques (I was an avid rock climber).  Needless to say, I struggled through my engineering degree.

Fast forward a few years.  I’ve graduated from college with my engineering degree, quite a few good texts about investing, and too many pairs of climbing shoes.  My current studies now focus on real estate investment.  However, in addition to modern day investment theory, I also study the causes of problems in the past; the Great Depression, Black Tuesday, etc.  Understanding how these events came about and unfolded allows me to forecast the future, to avoid and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I started to read “How I Turned $1,000 into Three Million in Real Estate — In my Spare Time” by William Nickerson.  In the first chapter, Nickerson has a section titled “Opportunity is Always Knocking”.  While I do struggle with depression at times, I firmly believe that there is an overabundance of opportunity, you only need to look for it (See: Opportunity).

In Nickerson’s “Opportunity” section, I came across the following quotes [edited for length]:
“In every year, in good times or bad, investment opportunities are always knocking, in spite of the pessimists who perennially lament, ‘There is no opportunity today.’ … The chances for success today offer less risk, by far, than those taken by our pioneer settlers and pioneer founders of government and industry. … Like the editors to whom I first submitted the initial chapters of this book, some of my friends now rationalize, ‘Nobody could start today with nothing as you did and build a fortune.  There just isn’t the opportunity in these times.’ … one of our friends summed up the depressing consensus of many, ‘The most you can look forward to is Social Security, and if you’re lucky a small [401k]. … Our economics instructor advised our class, ‘You might as well realize that the time for opportunity is past.  The best you can hope for is to keep a steady job and stay off welfare.  Nobody will ever again be able to build an estate big enough to produce an independent income.'”

How much of what you just read is appropriate today?  Everyone will say the perfect opportunities have already passed us all by.  They are sort of right.  The opportunities for yesterday have passed us by…the opportunities of tomorrow have yet to arrive.

Are you ready for them?

PS. Nickerson’s comment was published in 1959.

1 Thought.

  1. “All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” (Bruce Barton)

    –found on EAG’s desk

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