Serendipity - the money secret


Serendipity is the most important money secret I know. The founder of the MoneyMuseum talks about his view.



 Serendipity is the most important money secret I know, and it is also a life secret. I give you a quote from a man who knew: Aristotle Onassis. He said: “You don't need to chase after money - let it come to you.” That is serendipity.

It happens that serendipity can be best explained with the play of golf. This is because for serendipity to happen, the outer game – the correct golf swing – and inner game – the proper mindset – have to synchronize and this is best noticeable in the game of golf.

 Let me briefly tell you where the name comes from. The name serendipity derives from the Arab name for Ceylon, today's Sri Lanka, which was Serendip. An English author wrote a book in the 18th centurey: The Three Little Princes of Serendip. They were highly active and very successful – always at the right place at the right time. This led to the name serendipity – a word which is well-known in the English language, but not in German.

 Here a short definition of serendipity: to Find But not to Seek.

 Let me tell you in the next five minutes how you can attain serendipity.

 Successful investing, like good golf, requires cultivation not only of the outer game - learning about markets and trading, or about correct posture for the golf swing - but also of the inner game, of the proper mindset which leads to success and at times, to the feeling of being “in the zone,” of serendipity, of being in perfect synch which one's activity.

 Those who have experienced being “in the zone” as golfers, as investors, or in other activities, and those upon whom this made a lasting impression became immediately aware that something special had happened. Golfers describe it best when saying their game felt like “magic.” Golfers speak of these moments with reverence, wishing they would reoccur. I have experienced similar events with investing. Like many golfers, I believe these moments of insight show us a new approach to our activities and our life. Suddenly, the golfer discovers that he can produce the perfect shot, even though he cannot control when it will happen.

 The inner game can be, and has been, described in many ways. First, it involves finding joy and fascination in what one does. People seek out games and leisure activities that are challenging and require enormous skill because the challenges are enjoyable. People cannot be successful investors if they see investing as a chore or a duty, rather than a passion. Developing an investment approach and sticking to it, even through difficult markets, requires so much research, discipline, and self-mastery that unless one truly enjoys it, success could only be attained by luck.

 Second, the inner game requires playing the game for its own sake, not for an external reward. A golfer motivated by pride or ego, or an investor motivated by the lure of easy money, is not someone devoted to mastering the craft. The inner game is the craft - it involves studying of the slope of a hill, hours of practicing a swing, observing treetops to guess the force of the wind. In my experience, successful investors have been motivated not by amassing large sums of money, but by the desire to support something dear, like a family or perhaps an expensive hobby or collection. Gains and success come as by-products of mastering the craft, not as a result of focusing on the gains to be had. Those who focus too much on the desired outcome lose contact with the game. 

 Third, the inner game is something we practice. It involves self-knowledge and observation. The inner game requires a complete submission of the self to the game. Professionals in every field offer their own recipie for success. A noted actor once said: “I do not get up on stage looking for inspiration, I go there to do my work, which is acting, and occasionally, inspiration strikes.” Clearly, the focus is on the work, not on the applause, the fame.

 Fred Shoemaker is a famous golf pro. He has given more than 30.000 individual golf lessens and conducted hundreds of seminars. He said: “Have you ever taken the time to notice what you bring with you to the first tee? First, most golfers come to the first tee committed only to looking good (hitting a good shot) and not being embarrassed. This desire for others’ approval is so basic that most golfers are not even aware of it. Second, golfers are full of judgements about everyone and everything. This person has a better swing; the weather will make things tough … Now, with a package list like this, it is very difficult to achieve and sustain extraordinary play. It's important to become aware of the package and then redesign it. Awareness leads to improvement.”

 Or Jack Nicklaus once remarked: “Counting your chickens at golf ahead of the final stroke is always foolish and frequently dangerous in that, almost without fail, it produces defensive play.” What is true for golf, goes for investing.

 I have shown you the following;

  • 1) it is important to play the inner game – to be successful, to reach serendipity
  • 2) you can do that only with passion, if you have joy and fascination in what you do
  • 3) the inner game is played for its own sake – not for the profit, not for the outcome
  • 4) the inner game is something we practice continuously

So, serendipity looks like hard work – but attaining it is fun and gives joy.

Signet Sunflower Foundation