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To know a thing well, know its limits. Only when pushed beyond its tolerances will true nature be seen.
- Dune, The Amtal Rule
I feel like there’s something about this quote that speaks directly to us in the world of finance. The market tests us on a daily basis and pushes us towards extremes with disturbing regularity. Every once in a while we are pushed beyond what we can tolerate. And that is where the real learning begins.
Think of the all the intimate, longstanding relationships in your life. Your spouse. Your kids or your parents. Your best friend. Your coworkers, fellow soldiers, or teammates. Think about the ten or twenty individuals you’d take with you to the proverbial desert island, the people you’d want to have with you in your foxhole when the artillery is raining all around.
My guess is that you’ve seen most or all of these individuals when they have been pushed to their limits or beyond. You’ve seen their true nature. Or rather, you’ve seen their true nature and admired what you saw. You got a glimpse behind the curtain and concluded decisively that your life was better with these individuals as a part of it.
I can think of dozens of people I’ve known, who, when pushed to their personal limits exhibited behavior that made me uncomfortable, afraid, or disappointed. It sounds terrible, but I discarded many of these individuals from my life where I had the option to do so. It wasn’t a hostile or even an active separation. It just happened. My life went one direction and theirs went another and we each allowed it to go that way without interruption. Perhaps this is what we really mean when we use the expression “we grew apart.” We discover each others’ true nature and make a subconscious decision.
Think about how many old girlfriends, bosses, or golf buddies you’ve abandoned for the exact same reasons.