One of the joys of Far North Queensland is the plethora of activities one can partake in and one that we return to when we can is rafting on the Tully River. This year we went back again and I took the adrenaline upgrade, a slightly more adventurous trip down the river to the norm in that it involved rock jumping, going thru rapids in the river rather than in the raft, and being dropped down a waterfall – again, not in the raft. We started and finished in the same places as everyone else but had a very different experience.
The operators on the Tully have been going for years and understand their river very well but also understand that while the day is good fun, there are dangers aplenty for the unwary and they spend the first 30-40 minutes of the trip on various safety tips and survival skills. This is time well spent as there are innumerable ways to get dead in a fast moving river. The first time I did the trip they had never had a fatality and as recently as 5 years ago they had had only one; they have now had 7, including 2 from the same raft on one trip. Despite the fact that you can’t eliminate the risks that exist almost all these deaths were preventable if the risk minimisation tips had been followed including the most basic: listen to the boatman; in other words the risks will always exist but the danger can be minimised.
A similar story can be spun in investing: the key to successful investing is understanding the risks that exist and dealing with them. A good starting place is acknowledging that your trip along the river may be bumpy (and may be very bumpy if you choose to enhance your experience), that you might encounter obstacles – mostly unexpected – that may hold up or even reverse your progress for a time, that you may need to change things along the way to improve the trip, but that if you keep pointing in the direction you need to travel you will reach your ultimate goal.