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May 27, 2010

When “inconsistent” became a curse word…

A lot of times we hear complaints (yes, those posts are related! :) about inconsistency: returns of the fund (or the market for that matter) are inconsistent, female behavior is the synonym of inconsistency, employee performance is inconsistent and don’t even get me started on politics!

Well, consistency might be an easy sell, but when it becomes an end to the means we get very consistent returns... of Mr Madoff.

In my view, inconsistency is not a reason to push a “panic” button, but rather to look into the matter and question the reasons – for both consistency and stability. Uninterrupted calm could be very convenient (think of a child that never cries!), but it is a good reason to do a pulse check (that silent kid might just be mute!)

In short – if it ain’t broken – don’t fix it, but do kick the tires.

PS. I guess, now you know what to expect from the musings – if they are inconsistent – it is by design.

May 15, 2010

On complaining and counting blessings

“Stop complaining and count your blessings” – this sentence used to drive me crazy for a very long time, so here I am trying to figure out why.
My analytical mind does not really appreciate the concept of “either/or” – in a case where “and” fits naturally. After all, it is a multitasking era, and we live in a free country, so why not do both: “complain and count my blessings”? Being blessed with good health and unbelievable friends certainly warrants counting, but suffering financial loss, going through midlife crisis, worrying about kids, having a favorite dress ruined, or even being unable to touch your toes in a yoga class – they all cause us grief, pain or discontent. All these feelings can be freely expressed, of course (remember the free country premise we started with? ) and therefore they are perfectly legitimate reasons to complain! (According to Merriam-Webster dictionary “to complain” is “to express pain, grief or discontent”).
After a while, I realized that those who are advocating “non complaining”, especially in personal conversations, are usually just expressing their grief about having to hear the complain – complain about the complain, in this obscure way. If they could follow their own logic, they would feel blessed that another person is confiding in them and sharing her feelings – but for some reason this is not as easy as to complain and brush it off. Seriously speaking though, this intolerance to others complaining can be based on many factors: fear, that the same might happen to the non-complainer, feeling of impotence - due to inability to help, great difficulty in relating to the feeling of another, unless relating to her actual problems.
To conclude, I’d suggest – “Complain away AND count your blessings!”. I’d even advocate instituting a national holiday, say Griefgiving – with vegan meals and no parades, just a time for quite contemplation and, yes, complaining.

May 14, 2010