July 14, 2007

Too GOOD to be TRUE

I've been thinking about one of those "warnings" that most of us learn in our youth. Unlike The Five P's, this one wasn't taught to me by my father; instead, my mother gets the credit for this one:

If it sounds too good to be true ... it probably is.

Some learn to follow this statement early in life while others never learn to follow it. Let me be honest by saying that my learning and abiding to this maxim has created a monster of sorts. I tend to be hyper-critical of "opportunities," but I would rather be critical and safe than overly-trusting and unsafe. How about you?

I suppose I could relate this to finances or, in particular, those "golden investments" that are pitched as "once in a lifetime opportunities." For example, if someone waltzes into your life and promises easy returns that beat some of the smartest investors alive (e.g., Buffet, Icahn, and Soros), then your warning flags should probably shoot sky high.

I could also apply this to the shallow promises associated with living the suburban dream. For example, Realtors never pitch the arduously long commutes or the inherent isolation associated with living in the outer rings of sprawl; instead, they always talk about how perfect life can be in subdivisions with romanticized, phony-sounding names like Pheasant Mill Crossing.

Instead of associating this life lesson to a particular topic, I'll simply leave it be and let you, the reader, figure out how you can apply it to your own life. I don't necessarily subscribe to the "defense wins championships" mantra in every situation; however, I do believe that a good defense is a practical requirement before a strong offense can be assembled. Some might call this living life under the guidance of, "Better safe than sorry." I just call it smart.

Thanks, mom, for teaching me this.



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