Change is a constant. Yet it's often hard to see the forest for the trees.
It seems like just yesterday that my son, Zach, was making sand castles on the beach. This week he turned 16 and is driving. It reminds me of line from a song in the show, Fiddler On The Roof: "Sunrise, Sunset; Sunrise, Sunset … Swiftly Go the days."
On a day-by-day basis, I rarely noticed the change. However, looking at old pictures makes it obvious that there was growth and progress.
So, what did I notice? Sometimes it was what a great kid, or how loving, he has been. Other times I noticed that he didn't eat his vegetables, or that he drives passionately with a very heavy foot. In any case, what I focused on is what my life seemed filled with, to me.
Unfortunately, that is what has been happening in the markets as well. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt because people are focusing on what is wrong or what is missing. And frankly, the world has given us a lot of opportunities to focus on that lately.
But that isn't all there is to focus on in the market. I was talking to an old trader friend of mine, this week, and said he is "cautiously optimistic" because the lows have held even though everything but the kitchen sink has been thrown at the markets recently.
It is all about perspective, isn't it?
Here is a series of photos starting with Bush and ending with Obama. In the series, the differences from picture to picture are subtle.
This is also a metaphor for what I expect to happen over time. We are where we are. It doesn't really matter how or why we got there. We are here. And little-by-little we won't be here anymore.
If you are looking at the country or the economy, realize that it took years to get here. Simply changing a regime won't flip a switch. Some changes happen in slow-motion. Or, perhaps from our perspective, some changes appear to happen in slow-motion. From a different vantage point, the rate of change might seem very different.
The same can be said for changes in a person are changes in the business. It's easy to see the gap between where you are and where you'd like to be. Regardless, you will probably get there faster by building momentum and confidence by focusing on the improvements and progress you're making.
Tough times are great opportunities to discover character. I'm often amazed at the innovation and insight that occurs at times like these.