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Seth Godin, The Big Short and Walking Backwards

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in The Business of Business Finance

Seth Godin is one of my favorite teachers and Michael Lewis is one of my favorite authors (The Big Short is a wonderful read).  Last week I had the chance to relax with my family on the beach for spring break and read The Big Short and Replay (Seth's recommendation). The combination of these two books helped me realize something that changes the context through which I interpret the world around us and I need your input.

I think I've come to realize we essentially walk through life backwards.

Next time you are out, try walking down the street backwards, even just for a block.  You maybe able to sense things coming, like we do in everyday life life, but mostly we see events and people after they have passed us.  The chance to prepare, change course or adapt is reactionary and often a bit late.  It seems like a very small distinction, but if you dwell on it some, it has the ability to really impact how you assess your ability to "know" the future.

When events or people come upon us, it is still often difficult to determine what is happening (or happened) and what they may represent for us.  As they get a bit further from us, it becomes easier to see and understand their impact.  They will eventually get far enough away to put events into our own personal historical perspective as they eventually fall out of vision and out of our consciousness.

The main character in Replay had the opportunity to relive years of his life with full memory of events and circumstances he wanted to avoid and take advantage of.  He was walking forward.  In Michael Lewis history of the recent financial markets collapse, he illustrated how blind even the smartest people can be to events until they are upon or past them.  The few who were able to turn their head and peak forward made tens of millions of dollars.

I'm just back from vacation and still developing this train of thought and would appreciate your comments, insight and wisdom on this concept.  Are we walking backwards?

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