The Prophet, from Debra Kettle

September 5, 2006 |

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran has always been one of my favorite reads and is recognized as one of the classics of our time. In his work, Kahlil describes the art of parenting in a way that reminds us of the beauty and responsibility of raising children that allows for our offspring to experience their own journey without being tarnished by the personal agenda of parents. Application of the gifted insights of Gibran to investing might be considered both humorous and profound.

The Prophet (original version)

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness:
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

The End.

I am not surprised, given the dominant male presence in the world of finance, that the stock market has often been called a mistress. I would like to offer a new, perhaps more female minded perspective, and suggest that the market is less like a mistress and more like a child. What would happen if the mistress were ultimately married and bore a child? What tenets might need to ensue to shape the outcome of this intellectual and emotional shift? I think Gibran's piece, and viewing investments as children, offers a great new metaphor.

Most would agree that a full commitment is required of parenting. Planned or unplanned, a child makes certain demands of parents that must be met in order for the child to develop and thrive. Moral implications aside, a mistress is certainly a thrilling concept. The mistress metaphor seems to play on the internal ache and frenzy that the market causes many investors. Her risk is great, she can never be fully possessed, and often she drives investors to levels of despair and ecstasy emotionally and otherwise. The mistress is often blamed whereas we miss the real culprit, the lack of emotional management. I have always held the position that parenting, like investing, when done well is a predominantly intellectual enterprise and I would like to propose the head over heart approach of parenting as a new, perhaps just as playful and heart wrenching metaphor, for investing.

We all know that a full commitment to a mistress would render her no longer a mistress. The short version is that she would be given legitimate status. Soon to follow might be the ho-hum, the status quo, the banal, the boring, the responsible, the dutiful, even quiet desperation of legitimate union. A full and honorable marriage to the market would likely bear offspring . The children, the investments, and inevitable associated responsibilities cannot hope to compete with the excitement of an illicit love affair but might ultimately prove to better serve the future. Concepts such as balance, discipline, nurturing, boundaries, and limit setting would replace reckless abandon, passion, and longing. The former concepts, however, with regard to investing, might also make for a greater long term relationship. While indulgence might make a mistress happy. An indulged child rarely thrives. Neglect, probably more so as it reflects the mistress not the child, is not a good idea either if you know what I mean. Granted, the thrill, the lack of commitment, the not being required to spend holidays, the come and go as you please nature of a mistress, may make her more desirable as a metaphor, but I am optimistic that the benefits of a metaphor with a firmer foundation might be plausible and worthy of consideration. I realize that I risk my "image" as a fun loving, risk taking, emotions drenched, liberal in writing this piece. Truth be told, I am the type to run with scissors only to put them back where they belong.

So, back to Gibran. What exactly would be required of investors if they married the mistress and bore a child? What tenets might need to ensue to shape the outcome of this emotional and intellectual shift? So Here goes: With all due to respect to the genius of Gibran, I unleash, The New Prophet. [read the rest of this post]





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