One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld was when Kramer adopted a highway. He painted over the white dotted lines that divided the lanes so that drivers on his adopted highway could have more space and a more relaxed driving experience. The next day his adopted highway was on the news because of severe gridlock because his highway dropped from 4 lanes down to 2. Total chaos broke out and Kramer realized his brilliant idea wasn't so brilliant! I was reminded of that episode this week as I have to admit that starting Tuesday morning I set up my home office in front of the tv and watched 24/7 election news. However, after 3 days of 12-hour stints of binge watching between Fox news and CNN, I finally cut the cord on Thursday night and said I wasn't going to make myself (or my family) keep watching it. I had let the media paint over my lane dividers, and I let the 3 days of unknown and stress overtake me and my family's life. Even though I had zero influence on the outcome of the election, I had 100% influence over how I would let it affect me and my family. We have a new puppy at the house, my oldest son was celebrating his 13th birthday this week, my wife and I celebrated our 15th anniversary, and there were too many more important things that needed my attention. I think it's inevitable that at times certain events will hijack our attention, but it's up to us to re-paint the lane dividers and refocus on what we can control and what is most important. This scenario also reminded me of one of the wisest graduation speeches from Charlie Munger, the billionaire business partner to Warren Buffet. Here is one of the excerpts of his speech:
"One thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one’s mind. You see it a lot with political ideology. When you’re young it’s easy to drift into loyalties and when you announce that you’re a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out, what you’re doing is pounding it in, pounding it in, and you’re gradually ruining your mind. So you want to be very, very careful of this ideology. It’s a big danger.
In my mind, I have a little example I use whenever I think about ideology. The example is these Scandinavia canoeists who succeeded in taming all the rapids of Scandinavia and they thought they would tackle the whirlpools of the Aron Rapids here in the United States.
The death rate was 100%.
A big whirlpool is not something you want to go into, and I think the same is true about a really deep ideology.
I have what I call an iron prescription that helps me keep sane when I naturally drift toward preferring one ideology over another and that is: I say that I’m not entitled to have an opinion on this subject unless I can state the arguments against my position better than the people who support it. I think only when I’ve reached that state am I qualified to speak. This business of not drifting into extreme ideology is a very, very important thing in life." What I appreciate about what he says here is to 'stay in your lane' of expertise! I am certainly no expert on foreign policy, I'm not an economist, and I am not well versed on what it takes to run a country. What I am well versed on is controlling the things that I can control: my daily habits, my attitude, my effort, how I treat people, how I continue to learn, and being a positive and uplifting influence on the people around me. I encourage each of us to use this as a gentle reminder to stay the course of your life! At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not your candidate won the election, the true 'ripple effect' on our day to day life will actually be relatively small. It's on us as individuals to protect our mind and stay the course of becoming the person you were created to be.