Sunél’s Blog | So really, how are you feeling right now?

When you read this, South Africa will be at the start of its lockdown, following our European and Asian friends who have been in lockdown for some time. We have been called to fight a war against an invisible and silent enemy, by staying home. And, even if we do not want to admit it, most of us are probably terrified. It’s that feeling of constant disease in your stomach, a general unsettledness, a restlessness, an inability to concentrate – all of those things.

It is also quite natural, a primal response to an unknown threat. Our fight-or-flight response has been triggered. Our bodies are in a state of high alert. And for some, the financial disaster already at your doorstep is fuelling the fear. It leaves us tired and on edge.

We have a very new reality with many new demands.  The world may ask of you to continue working from home, at breakneck speed, despite your children demanding attention. You may be called to re-invent yourself or your business.  And while you have all this time at home, why don’t you spend it doing things you never get to do, like DIY?  Or improving the social media ratings for your business?  If not required by a boss, you may be putting such pressures on yourself. And this is just your reality.  There are others who are alone, without family or home and who feel unsafe.  You know this too, yet your determined gratefulness does not always make you feel better. 

So really, how are you feeling right now?

What is your being calling for?

For thousands of years, there has been a natural rhythm of rest. Seasons forced humans to sew and reap in the summer and then rest in the winter. In some cultures, there were whole years of rest. Our modern society has completely ignored these rhythms and rituals. We believed that we were invincible. Until now. 

Is this virus not calling us to respond differently?

It is time to rest. It is a time to hibernate and heal. It is not a time for high performance.

When we come out the other side of lockdown and when we are victorious over this virus, we will be called to action. We will be called to high performance then. We will need to be at our best.

Now is a time to rest.

Kind regards,

Sunél

27 March 2020

Sunél’s Blog | Corona and the human mind

The COVID-19 virus fall-out is a great example of the flaws in human thinking.

For a complex problem – like, what is the most appropriate response by a country’s government to the spread of a deadly virus – you need complex thinking. However, most people rarely apply the rational, thinking part of their brains. Most human thinking is done automatically and quickly. We reduce the complex problem into a simple problem that we can easily solve without spending excess energy.

Conversations around the virus are obvious examples of such reductionist thinking: people jump to easy conclusions based on a few pieces of dodgy data. How many of us have heard, ‘It’s just like the flu’. No, it’s not.  For one, a significant portion of the sick will need hospitalisation, unlike the flu. Or how about, ‘Eventually all of us will get it, so why don’t we just get it over’. No, we can’t because the health system cannot deal with all of us getting sick at the same time, particularly when most hospitalisations will require high care.  Then there are those who have linked their opinion to the opinion of an ‘expert’, i.e. ‘My brother’s mother-in-law is a doctor in …’.

When we operate from a position of fear, we are less likely to have the capacity to apply complex thinking. Our fear dictates that we act. Now! Complex thinking, on the other hand, requires slowing down and carefully sifting through lots of relevant data. Slow thinking is rare. Few people are inclined to go through the effort. And even if we think we’re applying our minds, there is still a good chance that our thinking is not complete, or accurate or even rational.  Some of the worlds’ greatest minds are the most forthcoming about the difficulty of deep thinking.

Slow thinking may appear indecisive and weak. People love fast thinking. It feels secure because we feel like we have an immediate solution for the now. It explains why Trump is in power. But it’s dangerous.

Slow thinking is vital in dealing with COVID-19.

In your next corona conversation, listen up! You’ll spot the fast thinkers quickly. Slow thinking is a rare thing and a lot harder to hear.

Kind regards,

Sunél

//20 March 2020

Sunél’s Blog | On swings and roundabouts

The last week of February was one of the worst in the history of markets – global markets declined by more than 10% in USD.  Pervasive panic as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus from China to the rest of the world dominated the news and social media. The virus has already brought much of China, a source of global trade and growth, to a standstill. There are hardly any flights over China’s airspace, few ships are leaving her ports and motorways are eerily quiet. It’s the stuff of science-fiction movies. It would have been hard to imagine just a few weeks ago.

But it was when Italy started to cancel football matches that the world properly paid attention. The coronavirus is coming to a town near you. And it’s causing havoc because it paralyses economies.   

The measures for uncertainty in financial markets shot up. What if this thing derails global economic growth? What if ……..? You can complete the empty space with a million questions.

Financial markets always look ahead – sometimes with excessive fear and sometimes with unjustified optimism.  At the end of last year, global share markets were too optimistic – blind to the risks that always lurk ahead. Now, we have probably veered toward excessive fear. It may get worse if the worst-case scenarios play out but these patterns are not uncharacteristic of markets. It is how markets behave, always have and probably always will.

What is changing, because of global connectedness and technology, is the ferocity of the swings – they have become wilder. Amongst other things, it points to global markets becoming more irrational especially at the ends of the swing curve.

We should take swings into account, not by trying to forecast them (you can’t, and anyone who says they can is not truthful or scientific about their abilities) or by trying to rationalise the irrational, but by assuming and accepting that they will come and that they will be increasingly wild. Our financial and life plans can and should account for wild swings. 

Do yours?

Kind regards,

Sunél

//13 March 2020

<Foundation Family Wealth is an Authorised Financial Services Provider>

Sunél’s Blog | The risk of going it alone

What goes through a successful man’s mind when he pulls the trigger a day after his retirement? From the outside, he had it all: an illustrious career, a happy family, a big circle of friends and the trip of a lifetime planned.   But he harboured a secret. He never told his inner circle that he did not see life beyond work.

Or, what motivates a retired man to take his life when he has ‘lost’ his retirement capital on a big gamble? His family had no idea. Now, not only have they lost their husband and father, but they are left to put back the pieces of the puzzle without him.

These two examples point to the statistics of male suicides after middle-age. Multiple reports put them in the highest or second-highest suicide group, four times higher than that of females. Why? What drives them to that point and what is their inner voice saying? What are the stories they tell themselves? And what are the stories we tell men as a society that leave them feeling like suicide is their only choice? That their worth is only linked to their financial provision? That their jobs provide the only meaning in life? That they are nothing without a title or position? That they cannot confess to feelings? That seeking any kind of help, is weak?

And what business of mine, you may ask, is it to talk about male suicide? Because I see the risk in front of me: in my office, across my desk and in dealing with bereft families and chaotic estates.  And because I want my clients, family and friends to avoid this fate. And because it is a serious and increasing risk. I see how hard it is, for some men, to ask for advice.

So many men choose to go it alone – with their money, their careers and their wellbeing. Don’t. It’s dangerous. Make real friends and talk to them about real stuff.  Get help for your career, your marriage, your money and your health.

It is a measure of greatness, not smallness, to seek help. It takes great courage to face your reality, whatever it is.

Kind regards,

Sunél

06 March 2020

<Foundation Family Wealth is an Authorised Financial Services Provider>