Anytime, anywhere, and for any reason, something that can go wrong will go wrong. There is no way to predict and see it coming.
Not just in finance, but in the physical world, crime or accidents can also be personal “Black Swans”.
Responsible, disciplined, and abundant thinking readers of Finance and Purpose know that preparation and agility are one of the keys to coming out on top when others are down.
But there is also a way to judge when something bad is about to happen. There are ways you can immediately take action and come out unscathed.
Sometimes preparation alone is not enough. It takes a third eye or a trained instinct. No one can prepare for a Black Swan. You can only protect yourself after the fact, by reacting.
This post will teach you how to train your instinct.
I will teach you how to react to any physical calamity such as a natural disaster or attack / crime, as well as awareness of the trends and the thoughts of people around you.
The same set of skills used to evade a mugging are the ones used to avoid political repression.
1. Situational Awareness In Physical Space
Imagine yourself in December of 2004. You are on a vacation in Thailand on Phi Phi Island beach. After a night of drinking and partying at your hostel, you wake up in the morning with a groggy hangover.
You take a step outside to breathe in the fresh ocean air when you subtly notice that the water on the beach is rapidly moving back into the ocean. You think nothing of it, it’s just a weird tide.
In less than a blink of an eye, this idyllic vacation will turn into your most horrific experience by a powerful tsunami.
There is no way to be prepared. A Black Swan will only be survived by those aware who can react and sustain. A few thousand died in this tsunami.
As you can see from the video this tsunami wasn’t a monster of a disaster towering hundreds of feet high and destroying high rises. You only needed to be on the second or third story to avoid it.
A competent swimmer, while, frazzled would be able to float and recover. The major risk would be a spinal injury. Awareness of the incoming wave and running towards higher ground would mitigate this risk.
The people who died on the island were relatively similar in size and stature to those who survived. Many were young tourists and locals who were used to the surrounding landscape
The casualties most likely couldn’t hold on to objects against a strong tide. They were not able to sprint towards higher ground or building, and simply had been blindsided and made bad decisions due to shock and awe.
Indeed, the losses were tragic.
However, in this situation, to protect yourself from calamity, awareness and phyiscal fitness plays a major role.
You must be able to swim at a competent pace, lift at least 70% of your body weight, and be able to sprint at least hundred meters to safety if you want to maximize your chances at living a long life.
You live in a world of uncertainty filled with risk. Note to not approach this from a Fearful standpoint, but from a prepared and level-headed mindset.
2. The Road Less Traveled
There’s a bigger theme. While things are going well, people are partying, and everyone’s relaxed. Guards are let down. People tend to check their phones or look away.
It isn’t the mere tragic event that can kill — it’s the shock of tragedy that forces people to make bad decisions at bad times.
And it’s so easy to spot vulnerable people. Just get on a subway or train.
See how many people put their heads down in their phones without even looking up at the world around them.
Vulnerable people are those who will immediately run towards the main exit instead of finding a back door — and thus get stuck in the doorway of a burning nightclub.
A tragic account of a nightclub fire survivor describes my point:
I kicked out a side window to try to get people out of there. One guy did crawl out. I went back around the front again, and that’s when you saw people stacked on top of each other, trying to get out of the front door. And by then, the black smoke was pouring out over their heads….https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Station_nightclub_fire
So remember that, at any time, any event can happen, so never let your guard down and be aware. Especially when everyone is distracted. Protect yourself by going the other way.
Be the guy that gets out the side window.
3. Awareness of Recent Trends and Surrounding Consciousness
Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany illustrates what can happen to a country in struggle. This country went from nothing, to conquering all of Europe, to losing it all again in less than 15 years.
With it came the atrocities of the holocaust where millions of Jews and other “undesirables” were killed.
Imagine you were Jew at the time.
Witnessing the 1920’s radical political shift and surrounding attitude of your fellow country men, would you have stayed? Would you have the awareness protect yourself in this situation?
In hindsight, of course. But at the time, many people underestimated Hitler and the Nazi party’s willingness to stay in power.
Note that Germany was a democracy like any other, and Hitler rose to power by the vote.
It seems easy to say now, to see it coming, and that no one expected Hitler to do what he did.
But indeed, a few famous men could have foresaw Hitler’s rise to power and danger it brought.
Many famous Jews of today such as Albert Einstein fled Germany at the right time, barely escaping Nazi power.
Had Albert been solely focusing on his scientific progress, ignoring every news article, he’d be a blip in history.
In addition to physical awareness, be aware of what people say around you, who they vote for, and the collective consciousness of your fellow countrymen.
The vote represents what people around you think about certain styles of governance and policy. Especially when a majority vote (60% +) decides a victory.
Being politically aware is extremely important because the world around you is constantly changing.
It is hard to notice.
It takes a lot of time for political change to take place. But when the change occurs (whether its favorable to you, or not), it is too late to react.
So open your eyes, and protect yourself from calamity before it happens, or stay in a good situation while it benefits you.
The Black Swan. You can’t see it coming. You can only react. Some things happen subversively under your own nose without your notice. Keep your eyes open if you don’t wanna get hit — be aware
Be aware when others are relaxed. Have the physical strength to run away or survive. Have the mental acuity to notice things that others don’t.
Other than preparing yourself, a Black Swan can never be predicted. Only by reacting swiftly — finding the back exit instead of the main entrance, will you be able to protect yourself from this world of uncertainty.
Comment below: What’s an event that you barely managed to dodge yourself out of? What was a moment that you intentionally “dodged a bullet”?