Justin Wright

Monday Velocity - Do Less Under Stress

published25 days ago
2 min read

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Do Less Under Stress

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "less is more" at least a handful of times. While it's often used to convince someone they may not need that extra accessory, or they should get rid of that floral shirt, this phrase is particularly true during times of stress.

When the proverbial shit hits the fan, we are wired for two things: fight or flight. Notice that both of these things, despite being very different responses, are actions. When our ancestors encountered a sabertooth tiger, "stop and think about it" wasn't really an option.

Acting under duress is hard-wired into our DNA, but oftentimes this urge to do something can be detrimental. Many times, simply waiting for the storm to pass before continuing on is the best course of action.

Take the stock market, for example. Over a long horizon, despite market fluctuations, the value of investments has always gone up over time. Historically, some of the worst red days have been closely followed by some of the best green days. When the market crashes, many investors have the urge to change their portfolio strategy, sell losing positions, etc. Active traders have lost more money during these times of volatility than any other period in the life of the stock market. What, then, is the best investment strategy historically during market crashes? To do nothing.

It is against our nature to sit on our hands and idly wait for bad times to improve. Oftentimes, however, this is precisely the correct strategy. During uncertain times, being able to step back and assess the situation as a whole is a valuable skill. If we can overcome our natural urge to fight or flight, sometimes better options reveal themselves.

Being biased towards action is a strength, not a weakness. That said, high-stress situations cloud our judgement and increase the stakes of taking action. Stress leads to emotion, and emotion reduces objectivity. The next time you feel the urge to act under duress, take a step back and consider that the best course of action may just be inaction.

Hit List

The most interesting things I've encountered this week

What I'm reading: "My Twelve Rules for Life" by Russ Roberts

This is a short article with some powerful and actionable tips for improving your quality of life. As life moves quickly, sometimes it's helpful to get a brief reminder of why we are actually doing what we're doing!

What I'm watching: "5 strategies for raising kids with an entrepreneurial mindset" by Tameka Montgomery at TEDxRockville

I stumbled across this video and was instantly struck by the parallels of thought that Tameka and I share. Although it's aimed at raising children to be more resilient, self-sufficient, and creative, I think applying these lessons while looking back at our own childhood is useful. While I don't believe in dwelling in the past, our history does inform our future. How many of these lessons are you lacking from your own childhood, and how do you think that is impacting your life now?

An amazing app: Pocket

Pocket is one of my all-time favorite apps, as it allows me to save articles for later in one convenient place. Even better, it saves these articles as plain text so I don't need to scroll through ads while reading something I've saved. There is even an option to listen to a saved article like an audiobook or podcast. Highly recommended to clean up your inbox and help reduce the number of open browser tabs for any tab-offenders such as myself.

Quote of the week:

"I pay the taxes of life gladly."
- Seneca

Ryan Holiday shared this quote recently, along with his breakdown of its meaning. His commentary really hit home, as it focused on embracing life's inconveniences for the opportunities they allow us. For example, lack of sleep can be a "tax" from a late night with friends who happened to drop into town. These life taxes are well worth paying for the experiences we get in return. Don't lose sight of the larger benefits by focusing on the annoying details.