This past weekend many of our financial advisors and several of our team members traveled to San Diego for a national conference hosted by LPL Financial.
One of the keynote speakers during the event was retired Col. Nicole Malachowski, the first female U.S. Air Force Thunderbird pilot. She shared her story about overcoming very long odds to join the Thunderbirds, including her fear of heights. It was inspirational.
One portion of her presentation that really struck a chord with me was the impact and implications of wind.
Everyone knows that tailwinds are your friend. Whether you are flying a plane, driving a car, or riding a bike, tailwinds increase your speed, enhance your efficiency, and make the ride much smoother. Tailwinds make life easier.
The same is true with your financial plan. When the markets are trending higher, your cash flow is good, and taxes are low(er), your journey can be quite enjoyable.
Headwinds are the opposite. They slow you down, require you to exert more energy, and generally make life more difficult — unless you are a pilot during the two most challenging parts of your flight.
During takeoff or landing, headwinds are a pilot’s best friend. The extra lift provided by a stiff headwind can make takeoffs and landings much smoother.
When the financial markets temporarily decline many people do not appreciate the headwind to their financial plans. They start thinking they will need to work longer, save more, or spend less. However, these underappreciated headwinds can provide future lift that keeps your financial flight plan on track.
And then there are the winds that no one appreciates – turbulence. Col. Malachowski’s first encounter with turbulence as a Thunderbird pilot did not go well. Flying a mere three feet from her fellow pilots, her instincts led her to tighten her grip on the control stick and attempt to counteract the turbulence to avoid hitting her teammates who were flying just three feet away.
During the flight debriefing, her fellow pilots taught her this was precisely the wrong approach. Instead of tightening her grip and attempting to counteract turbulence, they coached her to loosen her grip and go with the flow. Each team member is impacted by the same turbulence in the same way. By attempting to counteract it, she was actually making the situation more dangerous.
Turbulence is an unavoidable fact of flight and life. Everything will not go according to plan. You will face significant challenges in life that will instinctually cause you to tense up and grab the control stick harder. Sometimes the better course of action may be to loosen your grip and strive for confidence in the future.
While turbulence is not enjoyable, it very rarely results in a crash.
Our commitment to our clients is to help fly them and their families regardless of which winds are currently blowing. Together we can enjoy the tailwinds, use the headwinds, and survive the turbulence.
Quote of the week: Henry Ford: “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”