Old Lessons for the New Reality

In anticipation of a planned return trip to Armenia, I recently completed a several month-long series of Armenian language lessons via Skype with a native Armenian instructor named Hripsime. My wife is part of the Armenian diaspora and I am proudly an “ABC” Armenian (Armenian By Choice). The Armenian language is ancient (early 5th century) and specific to Armenia, not bearing much relation to any other language (along with an alphabet that contains 50% more letters than our own!). We can take some valuable lessons from something “old” like the Armenian language into the “new” reality that we are living through today.

Respect the Past

The first lesson is appreciation and respect for the past, even if it’s cluttered and imperfect. Yerevan, the capital of Armenia is about 2800 hundred years old (a few years older than Rome), and generally regarded as the oldest, continuously populated city in the world. A lot of those years were spent under occupation by others, but they persevered and ultimately prospered. We can persevere and prosper through our current situation as well. While American history is not on the same scale, we do have almost a century of financial market history that we can use as a guide. Think decades, not days.

Adapt and Change

Next, anything that survives for a long period of time has learned to adapt and change. As Americans we aren’t particularly good at this and want tomorrow to be the same as yesterday; it just can’t be so. Adjusting and making mid-course corrections is an integral part of survival. This doesn’t mean that we react to all the noise of the day but rather that we check-in from time to time to make sure what we deemed to be our most important objectives in the past still hold true today.

Ancient languages and ancient cultures like Armenia remind us that life is lumpy. That is, events and experiences like those during the past few months are unpredictable and not uncommon over long swaths of time. Interpreting this lumpiness as anything else can be detrimental to your financial health.

Go Forth and Prosper

Finally, the burning embers of freedom to create, prosper and live cannot be easily extinguished. Just two years ago in Armenia, large throngs of young people held anti-government protests throughout the country seeking the replacement of the Prime Minister who had been in power for a decade. In only a few days they were successful in forcing a change and the Parliament voted to install the opposition leader as the new Prime Minister. This has become known as The Velvet Revolution because of the change of power without bloodshed.

This same spirit is also alive and well in America. Entrepreneurs are re-envisioning their businesses to better serve consumers within a changing environment. This is another old lesson from the past; to constantly look for better ways to bring value to the people that buy your product or service. The stock market is full of companies that are doing this today.

The “new” reality isn’t really that new, it’s just different. There will be many hills to climb in the coming months but American ingenuity and creativity will out.

Related: Navigating the Stock Market: Past, Present & Future