Perception vs. Reality

It is amazing how often our perception…which may, or may not be, based on fact…becomes our reality. What we all believe is true is biased and formed by where we’ve grown up, how we were raised, our experiences, our education and more. It seems to me that the only way to battle that our perception may not be correct, is to listen. When we slow down and listen to others we can ponder the possibilities that we have never experienced, nor were taught were true. Whether it’s an election, what college team is best, what we are proud of, or what we believe is true…More often than not, there is a chance that we are wrong.

I recently had someone tell me that if they had their 1970’s Pontiac Firebird from high school they would be rich today.


In his mind he really believed that this was truth, because the car would be worth substantially more today than when he purchased it as a high school senior. See we know the car was purchased for an amount close to $5,000 and today, if still in excellent condition, the car would be valued around $50,000. I would agree $50,000 represents wealth. Yet if we took $5,000 and invested it in the market in 1970, it would have been worth $366,053.99 in 2013!* Sure, $50,000 is good, but isn’t $366,053 better! Yet, in his mind, if he only had the car!

He is one of those people that does not believe in the power of free markets, so if I would have told him that he could’ve invested in the stock market and done much better, he would not believe me. His perception is his reality. So, what do you believe today that is based on a misperception that is not fact-based? Is it how you invest? Is it how you budget? Is it how you spend money? Is it what you think it takes to be happy?

What I suggest is that we spend more time listening. Listening to others’ opinions, listening to others’ thoughts, listening to others’ ideas, which we may or may not agree with, but there is a reason for their existence. When we spend more time listening, and less time being sure that our perception is the only answer, our worldview and the life we live can be better.

I think every one of us would be more successful, worry less, and have a better life if we were not so sure and we listened more.

Are you right? Be careful of your perceptions.

**Valuation sources: and, Historical Returns Investing Calculator – . Calculator assumes dividends are invested back into your portfolio. Market value excludes inflation, taxes and/or investment costs. Calculator based on the S&P Composite Stock Price Index compiled by Yale economist Robert Shiller.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. Investing involves risk including potential lack of principal.