America is a land of opportunity.  Still, many people will tell you how they missed the boat.  For confirmation, listen to the repeated laments of those who hesitated, perhaps lost their nerve and failed to act when golden opportunities presented themselves.  Instead of capitalizing they delayed, remained on the sidelines, and missed out.  Instead of the right moves, they offered up convenient excuses.  Who has not heard tales of heiresses not married, investments not made, real estate booms missed or mistimed, or other sure things overlooked?  The house, it could have been bought for a song; the land for practically nothing; a share of a rising start-up company for pocket change.  Anyone could see what was about to happen.  When prices took off, then went out of sight, fortunes were made.

Almost always there is the stock purchase that could have meant easy street:  the information – strictly inside stuff, the downside risk – negligible, the potential – enormous.  Computer companies couldn’t miss.  But each time their stocks surged forward you hesitated, waiting for a pullback.  They never did.  Straight into orbit they went without you aboard.  Lord knows how many people are still living off those stocks.  You’re not looking at one of them.  Remember when friends approached to invest in their business?  You declined; didn’t see the potential.  Today they have nearly two hundred stores.  The company went public, and the stock is worth a fortune.  You could kick yourself.  Sometimes you do.  All this sound familiar?

Are these real life stories?  Some undoubtedly are.  He who hesitates may very well lose.  The race frequently goes to the swiftest.  Trite but true.  But everyone loses out at one time or another, the knowledgeable along with the naïve.  And some of the hard-luck stories and misadventures may well be the products of selective recollection.  Had it been a bona fide investment opportunity or merely the prospect of one?  Did not as many people lose as gain at the time?  Weren’t years to pass before any substantial profits materialized?  How much money could you have afforded to invest then?  Reckless endangerment, not shrewd calculation would probably have been the verdict had you gone ahead.

If all this be so, why do people expose their missteps, exaggerate alleged short-comings, rehash missed opportunities?  There is drama, often high drama there.  Such stories attract attentive audiences, sympathetic listeners, also people comforted by your failures.  Perhaps you actually were ever so close to a bonanza.  How many people can even make such claims?  And beyond the self-deception you’re tapping into a rich lode of fantasy.  Almost succeeding easily blends over time into actually doing so.  Repeating the story often enough surely entitles you to a piece of the action.  Having come so close once certainly makes you a likely candidate for the grand prize again when the wheel of fortune may once more be within your grasp

One thought on “IF ONLY …

Leave a Reply