Episode 031 - The five stages of grief

Those with clarity of mind will see opportunities when all others see disaster. So how do you find mental peace and get that clarity? Simple. Get through the grief process faster than everyone else.

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Show Notes

In 1969, the author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote and published a book called “On Death & Dying”.  This has become a cornerstone of psychological teachings, in that it chronicles how the human psyche progresses through times of crisis.   It follows my own personal experience with losing my father, in that it only seemed that time would heal those wounds.  One thing I did notice was that after about 3 weeks from his passing, I felt that at least I could try and move forward, but prior to that it was a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

We all go through these moments, and most of us will have many iterations of this.  Sometimes the moments are within family and/or close friends.  Other times they are local to the community (like a hurricane or earthquake) and sometimes they are national or even international, like a global pandemic.

It is ok to feel scared.  It is ok to panic.  But if you can accept that this is normal way that humans deal with hardship, and you can get through it knowing that it is ok and it is normal, then you probably will come out the other end with some clarity.  

Years later, you look back on these times with a different perspective.  For example, if you looked back on the global financial crisis of 2008 and remember how painful and hard it was back then, that’s fine.  But if you look back on it as a buying opportunity to pick up real estate at 5 times less than it was actually worth, then you carry an even more painful memory of regret with you.  

And that is exactly what we are dealing with today.  In March 2020, we are in the thick of a global pandemic that has shut down world economies.  People are panicking.  They lost their jobs, they can’t pay their rent or their mortgages, small businesses are closing down, hopes & dreams are dashed.  People are crying out for help, but little help is coming.

However the mature among us will see that this finite event will pass.  And when it does, the future will look bright as it always has, and looking back I hope you don’t have to live in infinite regret from missing out on opportunities here.  So the key is to get through the grieving process quickly so you can regain your clarity again.

You will be surrounded by the herd and herd-think.  They will act like 5 year old children, panicking, screaming out, crying, etc.  You cannot let that affect you.  Yes, you are probably going through something like this as well, particularly if you lost your job and the future is uncertain.  But you will get another job.  You just have to go back to what made you special and nurture that.  The worst thing in the world that you can do is to be consumed by the panic and therefore it may be time to limit your exposure to social media, news, etc. that doesn’t help you with factual evidence and stop listening to others that are trying to push their own grieving process upon you.  It won’t help you - it probably won’t help them either.

These are times that you want to be sure that when you look back on them, you look back on them as learning opportunities and ways to grow moving forward.

<Tell the Hawker bushfire story here>

So let’s look at the five stages of grief to understand them, so we can try and accellerate ourselves through them.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Once you get to acceptance, then you can start to see things clearly again.  And if you have that clarity you will not only see problems, but opportunities.

Ask yourself this....  Why is it that in times of crisis, years later, there are those that really profited from them?  They didn’t do anything that promoted pain for others, but they found a way to clean up the mess and benefit from re-establishing the norm again.  

When the USSR collapsed, a new breed of entrepeneurs emerged.  Many found opportunity when others found depression.  What was the difference?  Clarity of mind.  Those that can gain that clarity faster than others, will be the wealthy.  

You have to engage and step in.  You can’t find opportunities from afar.  That means get into your local community and look for solutions to problems - not just surround yourself with the problems.  Let me give you a simple example....

The world economy is tanking.  People can’t pay their rent.  They lost their jobs.  Etc.    Meanwhile, today’s news:


The Mexican Peso is 25:1 to the $USD.  I’ve never seen this before.  If you have some money - even just a little, and you know how to use exchanges like Uphold.com for moving funds from one asset class to another, you could move $USD into MX Peso, and when this eventually returns back to some level of normal (which it will), you make out like a bandito on the arbitrage.  No guarantees of course, but I’m going in.

Or Oil.  Brent Crude Oil prices dropped down to around $25 a barrel.  They had been over $60 a barrel.  We all need oil and oil prices will return.  If math serves me, you could double your money in a relatively short period of time here as oil prices return to “normal” levels.  Again, no guarantees but I’m not missing out.

There are dozens and dozens of other opportunities out there like this.  Do you want to look back 12-24 months from now and live in regret because you didn’t have the clarity of mind to seize them?  Is that how you handle yourself in a crisis?  To prolong the pain for decades by adding to it the essence of regret?

My hope is that if you are listening to this podcast, you realize the need to be mature and find wisdom.  And the faster you find it, the more likely you’ll make a lot of money.  While everyone else is going to be dealing with the short term cashflow problems, you should be beyond that, and that is where real wealth emerges.

If you have been through the past 8 or so years in a bull market, when opportunities like these never presented themselves, you would have been really panicking.  But no - we all just enjoyed record low interest rates, low unemployment, rising wages, highest equity prices in history, etc.  Imagine just how bad that is for a crisis investor or a contrarian.

One of the most important books was published in 1979 by the great Doug Casey called “Crisis Investing”.  This was a #1 best seller at the time.  It details the massive wealth that was generated post 1970s by taking advantage of crisis.  It is one of my most prized books in my collection, and it is hard to find.  I think I had to scour eBay to get it, but if you can find it, get it and read it.  It is timeless.  

Mr. Casey went on to make millions in the collapse of the USSR, find enormous wealth in Gold and Silver mining, and has traveled the world frequenting with Kings & Presidents, teaching them how to bolster their economies and making significant profits in the process.  He was interviewed back in the late 1970s/early 80s on the Phil Donahue show, which was the equivalent back then of Oprah.  He shocked the audience with his predictions of what would happen economically, and if you search YouTube, you will find copies of this interview.

The predictions are remarkable.  Although there are some discrepancies with timing from this, 90% of what was predicted came true and in many cases Mr. Casey understated what was happening.  It is one of those times when if you could look back in time and see this, and then look forward to what actually happened, you could have made billions with this information.  Yet as crises unfolded, people panicked and missed the opportunities.

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