The Best Piece Of Advice I Ever Got

It Felt Like A Dream

Photo by Neill Kumar on Unsplash

I sat alone in a coffee-shop crying my eyes out.

My meeting had ended ten minutes ago and I was still weeping like a baby.

My tears were happy tears.

I had just experienced total nirvana.

The meeting was with my trading advisor. He doesn’t like it if I take pictures or record it. So I rewrote the meeting from memory. Some parts are vague.

I was on time as usual, the general was running late.

But then he entered, saw me and immediately said:

‘Why are you suddenly writing about picking up women? You should already have been married with kids. If by now, you don’t even now how to get a woman to marry you, you’re an even bigger loser than I thought.’

He said that while still having his coat on. I knew right there and then that I was in for an interesting meeting.

He eventually sat down, it took ages, and started:

‘First of all, kid, stop talking about your grey hairs. They don’t matter. You’re not suddenly wise now, you’re still a kid. You’ll always be a kid to me.

Second of all, stop writing about me as being your mentor. That word doesn’t mean anything nowadays. Even homeless people have a mentor now. Call me your trading advisor.’

So far so good, the old guy seemed in a good mood.

‘The third and only thing I wanted to say today is that you don’t know what you’re capable of. But I know it.

I know exactly what you’re capable of. And frankly, it scares me a bit.

You have all that raw talent and drive. You’re picking up skills by the minute. Not women, apparently, but skills. Focus and you can have it all. And eventually you’re going to have it all.

In twenty or thirty years, you’ll be the best trader, investor, mover and shaker on this planet. I know because I’ve been there. I know what it takes and you have it.

But you’re wasting your talents and your time and that makes me sick.’

The last sentence kind of shocked me. I thought I was doing a good job lately.

He took a sip of his coffee, looked disgusted and continued:

by wu yi on Unsplash

‘You’re getting distracted by darkness. There’s a lot of darkness in society, in people. Even in you and me.

People who say that trading doesn’t matter, that’s darkness.

People who say that writing doesn’t do anything to society, that’s darkness.

People who say that the future is going to be vegan, that’s darkness.

The darkness wants to keep all of us small. Don’t fall for it.

Don’t like the applause from some whippersnapper you never heard of. That’s a distraction too.

By the way, talking about claps, don’t ask for people to clap for you. You’re not a baby that needs applause from his mother.

Don’t thank people for reading you. You’re giving away all this wisdom for free, they should be thanking you. They should even be paying you.’

He reached into his pocket and slid something towards me.

‘This is for you. I got it from my attic. It took me three hours to get up there and back.’

It was an old wrinkled piece of paper, a contour map. The word ‘Aconcagua’ was written on top.

by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

‘When I was young, I climbed mountains. We didn’t have social media back then. There were no cameras or selfies. We just climbed. Nobody knew what we did.

Mountain climbing is not a spectator sport. It’s you and the mountain. Nowadays people are choosing the northern route because it’s better for ‘Instagram’ or the southern route because they can do a ‘Google Hangout’ there.

That’s how people die. Well, they died back then too. It’s a dangerous sport. But you get what I mean. Doing it for others is dangerous.

The same thing applies to trading. It’s not a spectator sport. You don’t trade for the applause. You don’t trade for the claps. Respect the market. Or you’ll die.

Writing is the same. Don’t write for the claps.

Trade like nobody’s watching. Write like nobody’s reading.

Which in your case is clearly true.’

He was getting up. It always takes a while for him.

‘Everything hurts these days. Standing hurts, sitting hurts, walking hurts. The only pleasure I have is thinking about who you could be in thirty years. I won’t see it but you’re going to have a hell of an impact. Don’t throw that away. Don’t get attracted to the darkness. Forward is the only way.’

He finally got up, looked me straight in the eye and said:

‘And don’t write about not having a purpose. You know exactly what your purpose is’.

I nodded slowly, hoping he would add a bit more information.

‘Your purpose in life, kid, is being a beacon of light in the darkness.’

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

And he was gone.

I felt a white-hot joy spreading in my stomach and the tears started coming.

When I got home, I sat at my desk and started to write this.

I looked in my pocket for the map of the Aconcagua to get some inspiration.

It was gone and I realized I had left it at the coffee-shop.

I smiled.

The universe is always perfect. Of course this was how it had to be.

Our grandfathers climbed mountains without taking selfies or videos. They barely kept journals and now we even lose their maps.

I realized that instead of documenting my life, I should be living it.

Forward is the only way.