By Mark Skousen
"Bull markets climb a wall of worry." -- Old Wall Street saying
I have on my bookshelf a series of books with opposite titles: “The Alpha Strategy” and the “Omega Strategy;” “Asia Rising” and “Asia Falling;” “Free to Choose” and “Free to Lose;” “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.” Visitors love the collection.
Now I can add the perfect counterpoint to Norman Vincent Peale's classic, "The Power of Positive Thinking." In "The Power of Negative Thinking,” the infamous basketball coach Bob Knight is critical about the "hollow platitudes" of the eternal optimists, such as "you can do anything you want to do in life" and athletes who are always praising God when they score a basket. There's too much Pollyanna praise heaped on kids these days and not enough discipline. Knight emphasized eliminating mistakes and bad habits as the key to success in life. (Given his troubles on the basketball court, he himself is his own best and worst enemy of this principle.)
"Negative Thinking" will never be a classic like Peale's book. Negative books can be bestsellers, but seldom classics. Jim Collins' book "Good to Great" is a classic business book and is still #51 on Amazon.com after 12 years... while Collins’ negative book "How the Mighty Fall" is #9,200, even though it came out more recently (2009).
In the stock market, there are a lot of sayings about bulls (positive about the market) and bears (negative about the market). There are “permabulls” and “permabears.” One of my favorites is "bears make headlines, bulls make money." Fear sells more than greed. I know investment writers who have been constantly bearish, always predicting an imminent crash, for the past five years (since the last crash in 2008).
J. Paul Getty once said, "Businessmen can profit handsomely if they will disregard the pessimistic auguries of self-appointed prophets of doom."
These Wall Street sayings can be found in my collection, “The Maxims of Wall Street,” available directly from the author by calling Eagle Publishing, 1-800/211-7661. The price is only $20 for the first copy, while all additional copies are only $10 each. I pay postage and autograph each copy. Or order a whole box (32 copies) for only $300 postpaid. To order, mention priority code MAXIMS to buy individual books and priority code MARKR to buy a box of 32 books.
Balance in life is the key, as Aristotle taught us. Nobody likes a naive Pollyanna, but neither do we like to be around people who are constantly complaining and finding fault. I don't think I could live under the same roof as Bobby Knight. Despite his incredible success record as a basketball coach (winning more than 900 games and three NCAA championships), he's too intense and critical for my tastes. But maybe I'm too negative...
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