At around 6:30 on Friday morning, a 57-year-old man was hit and killed by a car when he wandered into traffic in New Port Richey, Fla. He had recently been released from jail, where he was being held after an arrest for trespassing at a transient motel, where he had been searching for crack cocaine.
The man was homeless and probably mentally impaired after years of alcohol and drugs abuse. He had a decent income but any money he had was quickly spent on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes.
It is a sad story but probably not all that unusual. What makes it particularly tragic is that the man at one time had virtually every advantage in life you could possibly imagine. He had huge wealth, education, a genius level IQ and a famous and powerful family.
I won't give his name, but he comes from a very wealthy family whose grandfather founded a huge multinational firm. His father was one of the wealthiest men in the world, an astute businessman and politically connected.
My connection with him was a little unusual. He became a close friend of mine after I married his ex-wife, Jeanette. Their divorce had been very amicable and he knew that he was a poor spouse. We cared enough and she was introspective enough to know that she was better off without him and held no animosity.
Over the dozen or so years I knew him, he became increasingly unstable, and Jeanette and I became sort of surrogate parents for him. We were always the first ones he called when he needed help. We sought help for his drug addiction and got him psychiatric help dozens of times to no avail. We lent him funds, dealt with messy legal matters and tried to keep him off the street. It was a frustrating and thankless task because no matter what anyone did, this personable, gregarious and funny guy would immediately descend back into the cesspool of addictions.
He cost me a lot of time, money and emotions over the years but I can't help but grieve over his death because of how sad and wasteful his life was. He was a man with so much who did so little with it.
He demonstrates how easy it to squander the advantages and opportunities we all have. He started off with far more than most of us will ever have but still managed to let it all slip away. Those of us who aren't given such great advantages have to be even more conscientious about not letting them slip away.
As traders, it is very easy to overlook the fresh start and the new opportunities that the market gives us each day. We are going to fail on a daily basis but true failure comes only when we give up and stop trying.
We have to be willing to put forth steady effort to take advantage of the great opportunities that we are given. We need to stay mentally, emotionally and physically healthy to take advantage of the potential within our grasp. But most importantly, we need to persist. Giving up after a setback or giving in to distractions is what causes us to squander the chances we have.
The moral of this tragic tale is that you can have every advantage imaginable, but ultimately a fulfilling and successful life is determined by you. Press on! Never give up.
I like to start my morning comments with a suitable quotation. Today I would like to end with one that I keep taped to my monitor:
Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
-- Calvin Coolidge