“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised. “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” - The Alchemist
According to Paulo Coelho, we are all prisoners of our own personal history. At an early point in our little life, everything is clear and everything is possible. We are filled with enthusiasm and not afraid to dream. But as the years go by, we simply let life proceed, without our noticing, in its own direction, toward its own fate. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our souls as to be invisible. But it’s still there. In the silence of our hearts it urges us to carry on, but only if we listen, intently.
Life is not without its challenges. If we do not find ourselves being trapped by circumstance, we are simply told that everything we want to do is impossible. We are so afraid of failure that we start believing in this notion and stop believing in ourselves. What we need is the courage to confront our own dream. The courage to try, the courage to fail, the courage to succeed, and the courage to keep on going even when the odds are stacked against us. To quote Rainer Rilke, “Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.”
As the thoughtful blogger Mark McGuinness notes: “These days, “ambition” is a dirty word. People who are “ambitious” are viewed as either selfish or unrealistic. “That sounds a bit ambitious” is code for “you are going to fail.” Yet, it wasn’t always this way. We lost something important when we made a tacit agreement to keep quiet about our ambition. Because if you don’t acknowledge your ambition—even to yourself—you risk choking it. You risk not only falling short of the best that you could do but not even attempting it.”
This bitterness can stay with us for the rest of our lives. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did,” warned Mark Twain. So why not listen to our heart and follow the sage old words of Rumi: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do, there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.”
The universe conspires in favor of those who have set out on the path to achieving their dreams, even though we may not understand how. But to be worthy of a glance from fate, one must be willing to struggle and not be paralyzed by fear. Naturally, we’re afraid that, in pursuing our passions, we may have to sacrifice what we’ve won. We are afraid of losing everything we have, whether it’s fame or the fortune. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same Hand. God has blessed us and taken care of us up until now. He’s not going to suddenly stop showing up tomorrow. Faith for me has become a complete liberation. It drives away your fears.
Exactly five years have passed since I resigned. Like Santiago, I had been working at “The Crystal Shop,” postponing the realization of my dream, waiting just a little bit longer, like everyone else, thinking only of putting aside enough money that would allow me to unfold my own myth, to become a great macro investor. At 28, I did not have the experience or the capital to set up my own fund, but I knew that there is nothing more crucial to investment success than the complete freedom to express my own views. The diabolical nature of markets and the ever-increasing competition also meant that I must engage in deliberate practice and find my own answers. So I set upon a journey of self-discovery. I devoted myself to the pursuit of truth—in life and markets.
This gave birth to Stray Reflections. I wanted to use the freedom to think, write, and trade exactly how I would if I was running my own hedge fund. I did not want to deviate from who I am as a person and as a trader—one feeds the other. Despite numerous ups and downs, I am still filled with a sense of euphoria and confidence. My whole heart is in this journey. Each day, each hour is part of the good fight.
As far as I know, we will never be able to escape from our heart. If you are suffering at the hands of destiny it is not unfair to ask God for a new one. He has no shortage of destinies for you. The great poet Allama Iqbal taught me an important lesson: Change yourself and your destiny will change with you. If you are dust you shall be scattered by the wind but if you become solid as a rock then you may break the glass. The world will shape itself according to your perception of it. Heaven and earth too will adjust.
Besides, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether we win or lose. I just know this: when I leave this world for my scheduled meeting with God, I only want to be told one thing…
“Well done, Mr. Mian. You tried your best.”