Resilience Of US Stock Market Is Surprising -- Aberdeen Asset Management | 10/01/2014
(Kitco News) – The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index is up about 7% so far this year, and its resilience is surprising, said two fund managers for a Scottish investment firm.
Stocks have managed to rise even as the Federal Reserve is removing liquidity as it winds down its asset-purchase program, and the geopolitical troubles haven’t dented equity indexes much. The S&P 500 is down about 3% from the all-time high made in September, but is still holding most of its gains. That’s in contrast to gold, which is essentially flat on the year. Comex December gold is only about $10 above its Dec. 31 settlement price of $1,205.70 an ounce.
“We’re a little bit surprised is how resilient the equity markets have been. When you see the backdrop of what’s going on globally, with Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, now Hong Kong, there are lots of global problems, but the market seems to shaken these off,” said Bev Hendry, co-head of the Americas for Aberdeen Asset Management and chief financial officer, an investment house with about $541 billion under management.
Hendry is co-head with Andrew Smith, who is also Aberdeen’s chief operating officer. The two are newly appointed to the co-head of Americas role.
What’s fueling the gains in the equity markets is the U.S. economy, which is showing stabilization signs, Hendry said.
“The U.S. economy – it’s not been booming, but it’s certainly the one economy the world is looking at,” he said.
Hendry gave the example of a meeting he had with the Qatar Investment Authority last week in New York City while they were visiting for the United Nations summit.
“They were looking to invest in the U.S. They thought the U.S. was the one area where growth was strong and continues to be strong,” he said.
Smith said the stock market is likely finding funding support from pension funds seeking higher returns. Both private and public pension funds are heavily underfunded versus their obligations, and Smith said it’s likely the funds have kept a higher-than-normal equities weighting as stocks have outperformed the past few years.
“I think they’re keeping a higher-than-normal weighting than traditional exposure to equities because they (equities) are continuing to go up, certainly in the U.S.,” he said.
As that funding gap shortens, though, Smith said pension funds may start to lower those equity weightings back to more traditional core investments.
“Everyone talks traditional core products, core fixed income and large cap,” Smith said, later adding, “when interest rates turn around, and if they (pension funds) close their underfunding, I wonder whether core (funds) and core-plus (funds) might see a resurgence in their appeal.”
Volatility in the markets is starting to pick up after a very low volatility environment just a few months ago. That offers some opportunities for investors, but Smith said it’s also another reason to have a diversified portfolio.
Dollar Strength To Remain
The strength in the U.S. dollar, particularly since July, has grabbed the financial market’s attention. For the year, the U.S. dollar index is up 7% and is trading at its highest level since June 2010. With the Fed ending its quantitative-easing program, possibly as soon as this month, and the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan adding liquidity to their respective balance sheets, the dollar has risen.
Hendry said the dollar strength is two-fold.
The strength is “not a surprise to me. Again, the economy here is slowly picking up. Also, with what is going on worldwide geopolitically, the dollar has always been seen as a safe haven. I expect it to remain (strong) until we see big economic improvement elsewhere,” he said.
Both Hendry and Smith said they expect the equity markets to remain positive.
“I think it’s still sustainable. It’s not like it’s moving at a rocket’s pace. So far we’ve been able to accept some of these major (geopolitical) events. Plus there’s nowhere else for the money to go,” Hendry said, commenting on the low yields offered by fixed-income products.
Smith said they are “cautiously optimistic” regarding equities, noting how well the market has held up in the face of some severe geopolitical tremors, such as when the Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine.
“World wars have been started by things like when that plane was brought down…. The markets haven’t moved. So we’re cautious. There could be a bump (where prices fall). We’re hoping that there’s not,” he said.
By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News; firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @dcarlsonkitco
Wednesday's ETF with Unusual Volume: BBRC | 10/01/2014
The EGShares FTSE Beyond BRICs ETF (BBRC) is seeing unusually high volume in afternoon trading Wednesday, with over 652,000 shares traded versus three month average volume of about 91,000. Shares of BBRC were off about 1.1% on the day.
Components of that ETF with the highest volume on Wednesday were TE Connectivity (TEL), trading off about 0.9% with over 1.4 million shares changing hands so far this session, and iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capital (REM), up about 0.8% on volume of over 1.3 million shares. Pivot Technology Solutions (PTG.CA) is lagging other components of the EGShares FTSE Beyond BRICs ETF Wednesday, trading lower by about 5.6%.
Wednesday's ETF Movers: GDXJ, ILF | 10/01/2014
In trading on Wednesday, the Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) is outperforming other ETFs, up about 2.5% on the day. Components of that ETF showing particular strength include shares of Gabriel Resources (GBU.CA), up about 6.9% and shares of Continental Gold (CNL.CA), up about 6.5% on the day.
And underperforming other ETFs today is the iShares Latin America 40 ETF (ILF), off about 2.4% in Wednesday afternoon trading. Among components of that ETF with the weakest showing on Wednesday were shares of Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR.A), lower by about 6%, and shares of Banco Bradesco (BBD), lower by about 4.6% on the day.
Wednesday Sector Laggards: Airlines, Railroads | 10/01/2014
In trading on Wednesday, airlines shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 2.4%. Helping drag down the group were shares of GOL Linhas (GOL), off about 6.7% and shares of Spirit Airlines (SAVE) off about 4.6% on the day.
Also lagging the market Wednesday are railroads shares, down on the day by about 2.4% as a group, led down by Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), trading lower by about 3.5% and Kansas City Southern Industries (KSU), trading lower by about 3.1%.
Wednesday Sector Leaders: Precious Metals, Electric Utilities | 10/01/2014
In trading on Wednesday, precious metals shares were relative leaders, up on the day by about 1.3%. Leading the group were shares of Hecla Mining Company (HL), up about 5.7% and shares of Midway Gold (MDW) up about 5.3% on the day.
Also showing relative strength are electric utilities shares, up on the day by about 0.7% as a group, led by The Babcock & Wilcox Company (BWC), trading up by about 7.2% and Just Energy Group (JE), trading higher by about 4.1% on Wednesday.
Lessons For Pet Owners From Bacall And Rivers | 10/01/2014
Maybe you heard that Joan Rivers left a portion of her $150 million fortune to her four rescue pups, who are now living with her longtime assistant. Or that Lauren Bacall’s will said her dog, Sophie, would inherit $10,000 of her $26.6 million estate.
You might have even laughed when you heard the news.
But anyone who owns a pet or ever has understands exactly what Rivers and Bacall were doing — ensuring that their loved ones would be cared for after they were gone. As Rivers told The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman in early September: “I’ve left money so the dogs can be taken care of.” (In my own family, the loss of our beloved miniature schnauzer, Chance, a few years ago, was one of the saddest days of our lives.)
If you’re a pet owner, you should follow the lead of Rivers and Bacall, no matter how big your estate will be.
(MORE: Your Pet and Your Estate Plan)
What Pet Owners Have Planned
I was pleasantly surprised to see that many people do, according to a recent survey.
Securian Financial polled 903 U.S. pet owners and found that 44% have made plans for what would happen to their pets if the owners passed away or were no longer able to care for them (80% of the owners had dogs; 65% cats and 14% had “other”).
“We’ve seen a lot in the media that people feel their pets are part of their family and talked to some of our planners who said this is coming up quite often — owners wanting to be sure their pets will be taken care of,” said Michelle Hall, manager of market research for Securian.
According to the survey, however, in most cases where owners have made plans, their instructions were just informal and weren’t written down.
That could be problematic, since without written instructions, it’s quite possible that the pets won’t receive the medical care, love and attention the owners had in mind.
Of the owners surveyed who have made financial provisions, 73% will leave a cash gift to the pet’s caregiver (who may be named as the beneficiary in a pet trust); 38% added that caregiver as a beneficiary to their life insurance policy; 35% added more life insurance to their policy and 13% bought an annuity with the pet’s caregiver as beneficiary.
(MORE: 10 Ways to Help Pets In Need)
When You Don’t Leave Instructions
If you’re a pet owner but haven’t included instructions in your will for who you want to care for your pet and how, you really should.
Otherwise, the pet will automatically go to whoever in your will inherits everything that isn’t specifically mentioned (that person is known as the “residuary beneficiary.” And if you don’t have will, your pet will likely wind up going to your next of kin.
You might also want to follow the lead of Rivers and Bacall and dedicate a specific amount of money for your pet’s medical care and feeding.
Be sure that anyone you want to care for your pet knows about it before you die; you don’t want him or her to feel burdened or surprised upon your death.
Bear in mind, though, that naming a trustee for your pet in your will may not be legally enforceable and there’s no guarantee your trustee will do what you ask.
“You have to hope the trustee will follow your wishes,” said Karen Leslie, executive director of The Pet Fund (ThePetFund.org), a nonprofit that helps people find money to pay their veterinary bills. “It’s best to specify as clearly as possible how any money should be disbursed, to whom and for what purpose.”
If your estate turns into a pitched battle, having written instructions and a signed agreement with a trustee would likely increase the chances that your wishes will be followed.
Two Types of Pet Trusts
You can’t leave money specifically to your pet. Generally, by law “a pet is considered property,” said Leslie.” That’s why you might want to set up a pet trust to help ensure that your dog, cat, bird, fish, guinea pig, iguana (or whoever) gets proper care after you die.
With a pet trust, you set aside a specific amount of money to a trusted person who’s then responsible for making arrangements for proper care.
A traditional pet trust is effective anywhere. Here, the trustee you designate sees that your caregiver gets the money you allocated for the pet and provides care as you’ve instructed.
Most, but not all states, also recognize “statutory pet trusts,” which are often more general. It might say how much money you’re leaving in trust for your pet and leave it to the caregiver to decide how to use the cash.
You might choose to fund the pet trust by naming its trustee as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy — that could be a special policy bought just for this purpose or a portion of your existing policy.
Make sure your pet’s future caregiver knows about The Pet Fund, in case he or she can’t afford the veterinary bills. (This group doesn’t handle emergency care.) Serious medical problems can be extremely pricey, as with humans. “A hip replacement can run $20,000 and a broken leg could cost $5,000,” said Leslie. Yes, those costs are steep. But you do what’s needed for a loved one, if you can, human or otherwise.
Richard Eisenberg is the senior Web editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Assistant Managing Editor for the site and a contributor to Forbes. Follow him on Twitter @richeis315.
Good News And Bad News About Value Based Health Care | 10/01/2014
An important event yesterday signaled the beginning of the end for the much-maligned “fee-for-service” payment system in the U.S. health care system. That’s the system by which doctors and other providers get paid for every service they deliver, regardless of whether it’s necessary or does any good for the patient. Unchecked, fee-for-service functions as an elaborate incentive program for terrible care. It actually rewards providers financially when patients suffer complications or infections, and pays them more if they order unnecessary tests or procedures.
Yesterday’s event hosted by the employer-driven Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) shined the light on emerging alternatives to fee-for-service — a new set of payment reforms focused on “value”—the idea of paying more for care that benefits the patient and less for care that doesn’t. This is an accelerating movement.
A number of value oriented payment strategies are incorporated into Obamacare, mostly changing the rules on how Medicare pays some of its bills to hospitals. For instance, hospitals that fail to reduce their readmissions or infection rates will suffer a loss of up to 2.5-percent of the rate at which Medicare pays them. Other efforts include “bundled payments,” where providers offer one rate for one condition, not charging separately for the variety of services associated with treatment or follow-up care. The iconic innovator around bundled payments is Geisinger Health System, which offers one price for all the services connected to certain kinds of heart surgery—and it even offers a warranty.
The Affordable Care Act also introduced Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are partnerships comprised of hospitals, physician practices and other providers that in theory get paid for the overall health status of their patients. These are proliferating.
On the private sector side, there’s now an “arms race” among health plans to satisfy employer demands for value. Speaking at the CPR event, Aetna executive Carl King pointed out that earnings reports for all publicly traded plans include stretch targets for value based purchasing.
More Value, But Is It Working?
The good news is that research done by CPR in conjunction with the National Business Coalition on Health finds that adoption of value-oriented payment is indeed on the rise nationally. Forty cents of every healthcare dollar is now tied in some way to value—up from only eleven cents a year ago.
Unfortunately, there’s also some bad news: we’re not sure it’s making a difference yet. “Value-oriented payment only succeeds if we improve quality and safety,” said Andréa Caballero, CPR’s study leader. Indeed, my nonprofit, the Leapfrog Group, monitors hospital quality and safety and has not found dramatic change consonant with the shifts in value-oriented payment now being reported.
“It’s time to measure the value of value,” said one of CPR’s (and Leapfrog’s) founders, Equity Healthcare CEO Dr. Bob Galvin, MD., during the event.
The key issue that emerges is identifying which specific payment strategies aiming at value are most effective. Employers pointedly grapple with the effectiveness question every day. According to King, many employers have been long-time proponents of value-oriented payment as a general principle. But many question paying extra for new services like “reward payments” for hospitals that excel, or for services they didn’t pay for before, like care coordination services.
Employers are wise to use caution. As attractive as value-based purchasing sounds, it could easily turn into a hefty new expense for purchasers, without the promised ROI. One executive at a very large company told me she’s been down that road: “I’m always hearing about the great things hospitals are doing to save money and make patient care better, like all the surgeries they can now do less invasively. That’s great, but my costs keep going up and up. We never see the big savings from all these reforms.”
Rewards vs. Penalties
This is a real danger. The most common of the new value-based payment efforts make purchasers pay more for better care, but only a small minority of those initiatives penalize providers for providing poor care. According to Susan DeVore, whose organization, Premier, Inc., has been an early leader in helping thousands of hospitals navigate the shift to value, most providers are not ready to assume the risk of lowered payments if their quality does not make the grade. That problem crops up in Obamacare as well, with the growing list of dropouts among the so-called “pioneer ACOs”—the only ACOs willing to accept less if their quality lags. Most ACOs, the non-pioneering variety, don’t get penalties, just rewards.
But if providers resist penalties, purchasers have a right to ponder the math. It’s nice to pay bonuses for great care, but how do you fund that without reducing payments when care is not so great?
Value models may need a bit more teeth to jolt the healthcare system into real change. But as Galvin put it, “our system is very good at resisting change.” Employers and plans that shy away from provider resistance could easily dilute the impact of value-oriented payment, or worse, get handed a bigger bill.
What CPR plans next is to go beyond monitoring the growth in the value movement to dissect which value-oriented strategies stimulate the right market behavior. That’s what we need. We must end fee-for-service, and we must make substantial and rapid progress on the quality and safety of care. Given the enormous challenges of a healthcare system that is failing to deliver the level of quality care Americans deserve and pay for, the move toward value is critical. The next step is to make sure value doesn’t devolve into a nice-sounding but ineffective fad.
Gold Market Awaits U.S. Jobs Data; Payrolls Growth Expected To Have Picked Up Again | 10/01/2014
(Kitco News) – A Friday economic report is expected to show that the U.S. labor market picked up again last month, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the U.S. dollar will surge and pressure gold in the process…unless the payrolls growth is way above expectations, analysts said.
Conventional wisdom is that strong labor data bolster the dollar against the euro since it heightens expectations for the U.S. Federal Reserve to start hiking interest rates next year, and this in turn would tend to hurt gold. But currency strategists say so much optimism in the U.S. economy has already been factored into the greenback that the currency may not extend its gains unless there is a massive beat of expectations.
If the dollar is subdued after the report, that should spell good news for gold since the yellow metal often moves inversely to the greenback, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst with Price Futures Group.
“If there is a sense that the U.S. is going to be forced to raise interest rates because the jobs number is a blockbuster, that is going to give the dollar more strength and make it tough for gold to hold the $1,200-an-ounce area, which has been a big psychological area,” he said. “If the jobs number should miss big, that could really give gold a boost because the dollar would be under pressure.”
The third possible scenario – a jobs report that is right around expectations – also might be near-term supportive for gold, he continued.
“As-expected probably would not inspire the dollar to go to new highs,” he said, a view also listed by some currency strategists who spoke to Kitco News. Instead, this merely “would be reiterating the move” that has already occurred, Flynn said.
The monthly U.S. jobs report, often viewed as the most significant economic indicator for the world‘s No. 1 economy, is scheduled for release Friday at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Expectations compiled by various news organizations are for around 205,000 to 220,000 new jobs.
In particular, traders will be watching to see if softer jobs growth in August was a one-time hiccup or if the pace of hiring is slowing. The Labor Department reported 142,000 new jobs in August after increases of 212,000 in July and 267,000 in June. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 6.1%.
A report from payrolls processor ADP Wednesday said 213,000 private-sector jobs were created in the U.S. during September.
“I think the disappointment in August, when payrolls rose just 142,000, was just a temporary blip in an otherwise strong upward trend,” said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics.
Otherwise, economic data as a whole suggest the U.S. economy “is very healthy and is strengthening,” Dales continued.
“So I think the payrolls will probably rise by around 225,000 in September,” he said. “That would be really consistent with a reasonably healthy labor market. I think this report on Friday should be good news for the U.S. economy.”
Mark McCormick, forex strategist with Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, said his firm looks for jobs growth in line with consensus expectations, around 215,000.
“We think we’re going to see some pickup from the previous month, when we had 142(,000),” he said. “Services and manufacturing are expected to pick up after weakness in August.”
Statistically, there is potential for the August jobs number to be revised upward, said Marc Chandler, head of currency strategy with Brown Brothers Harriman. However, he is among those who are looking for some “disappointment” in the September payrolls figure, with a figure below 200,000.
“In something like 17 of the last 19 years, the August data has been revised up,” Chandler said. “And we had a weak August number. But, in six of the past nine years, September has come in lower than August.”
The economy grew 4.6% in the second quarter, the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2011. Expectations are for the just-ended third quarter to have been above-trend as well, Chandler said. “So I look for a return to trend growth in Q4,” he said. And that, he continued, could mean some softening in the labor market.
“For me, the sign for that is that the weekly initial jobless claims bottomed in July,” Chandler said. “That’s the low point in the cycle.”
Generally, he suggested, markets might have become “too optimistic” on the U.S. economy.
Overall, Chandler and McCormick described the medium- to longer-term fundamental backdrop as favorable for the U.S. dollar. Much of this is because of “bad things happening” in other economies like Europe and Japan, Chandler added.
However, both said some topping action could be occurring in the greenback. In particular, Chandler cited the euro’s ability to hold above Wednesday’s low despite more soft European economic data.
McCormick described the dollar as “overbought” in the short term, therefore susceptible to a short-term pullback on an as-expected jobs report.
“The dollar has advanced rapidly and so quickly on the back of potential normalization of Fed policy, or the first rate hike in mid-2015…,” he said. “Our concern is technical indicators and positioning both suggest the dollar is overbought at this point….We have the dollar index 3% above short-term fair value, when we start using sub-financial market indicators and interest-rate spreads and the outlook for monetary policy.”
The greenback would likely need a “big upside surprise” in the jobs data to maintain upward momentum in the near term, he added.
Chandler pointed out that futures traders have large short positions in the euro and yen. That means a softer-than-forecast U.S. jobs report means potential for short covering in the euro and yen, which in turn means a pullback in the U.S. dollar.
Flynn pointed out that gold has shown some resiliency lately by hanging onto the $1,200 level despite recent dollar gains.
“The question becomes at what point, with the rally in the dollar, do we see a diminishing impact on gold?” Flynn said. “We know there is a very strong (inverse) relationship. But at some point, the fundamentals of gold are going to come into play. You may see less of that one-to-one relationship (to the dollar) that we’ve seen…partly because there are other reasons to be long to gold.”
In particular, he cited geopolitical uncertainties, such as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and Middle East tensions surrounding ISIS.
By Allen Sykora of Kitco News; email@example.com
In Colorado, a New Solar Model Takes Root | 10/01/2014
A few years ago the Yampa Valley Electric Association, the rural cooperative that serves communities across northwest Colorado, including the Steamboat Springs ski resort, signed an agreement with a company called Clean Energy Collective to build a community solar garden in the valley.
Headquartered in Carbondale, Colorado, Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has helped pioneer the community solar model, in which individuals and businesses can buy shares in solar power generation facilities rather than owning or leasing the solar panels themselves. Paul Spencer, the founder and CEO of the company, calls it “solar for the masses.”
CEC signs a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the incumbent utility then pre-sells solar generation capacity in the form of subscriptions and finances construction using the PPA and the subscriptions, essentially, as collateral. Subscribers don’t necessarily get the actual power flowing from the solar array; those electrons go onto the local power grid and appear as renewable energy credits on the customers’ bills. CEC makes money by charging subscribers a slight mark-up over the cost of producing the power.
Under the Smokestacks
As a way of shifting away from the antiquated, centralized, and coal-dependent power grid, community is a powerful model. Founded in 2010, CEC now has 45 facilities spread across 19 utilities in 9 states. Spencer expects the number of facilities to double by the end of 2015.
In the Yampa Valley, though, CEC had a problem.
Craig, about 40 miles west of Steamboat in the mesa country of far west Colorado, has always been a coal town. Most of the solar customers would certainly be in Steamboat, at the eastern end of the valley. But land in Steamboat is not cheap, and CECs business model is based, in part, on building solar arrays without paying too much for the land. Proximity to customers was a lesser concern.
As it turned out, there was an ideal site in Craig – literally in the shadows of the Craig power station’s smokestacks. CEC quickly signed up enough people to take 30% of the solar power the garden would produce. That’s when the problem arose.
The land the solar garden was on was owned by the city of Craig, but the mineral rights were held by Tri-State Generation & Transmission, the operator of the Trapper Mine outside town. Tri-State officials said the rights were unlikely to be exercised — but they declined to formally cede them. What’s more, some city council members were against the idea in principle, believing that it was harmful to the interests of the coal industry. Spooked by the mineral rights issue, the title company on the land deal washed its hands of the deal. For a time, it appeared that the solar garden was dead.
Bridging the Divide
Paul Spencer and Terry Carwile, the mayor of Craig, weren’t ready to give up. “We begged, borrowed, and stole,” Spencer told me, chuckling. “We had to find a way to work around the mineral rights issue, and the town helped us do that.”
By the fall of 2014, a new, more amenable title company had been found, the deal was back in place, and CEC had resumed signing up customers. In coal country, a truce had set in.
“Solar is not the replacement for coal,” said Spencer. “It’s another power solution that helps build a low-carbon future. In some small way, this project is an initial way to bridge the divide between Craig and Steamboat – between the coal-producing world and the renewable energies of the future.”
How To Achieve Peak Performance In Life And Work | 10/01/2014
Achieving and exceeding your personal performance goals is a challenging endeavor, yet simpler than you might think.
“I thought of that while riding my bike,” said Albert Einstein when he was asked how he came up with the theory of relativity. He is also credited with saying, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” We have written often about getting off the couch, away from the computer and in to the game of life and work.
We recently took our own advice as about a dozen members of our team at Fishbowl recently completed a 425-mile bike race from Salt Lake City to St. George, Utah, finishing in approximately 20.5 hours. We didn’t discover anything on the magnitude of Einstein during our bike ride. Nevertheless, we did come up with a few sage lessons that might help you discover a new level of performance.
The race pushed us to the limit and beyond, and we accomplished more than we ever thought possible as a team and as individuals. Never having raced on a bike before, I gave it my all and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it didn’t kill me.
During the race, I wasn’t the CEO, the old guy, or the leader of the pack, and the other guys didn’t wear their work roles, either. Caravanning in a small RV, jumping into trucks to move forward to transition points, riding, resting, and eating together, we became one cohesive unit with a common goal: finish the ride honorably for one another, our company Fishbowl, and for Bryan Byrge, our fellow employee who lost his life earlier this year in a biking accident.
“In Honor of a Fallen Friend” highlights the outcomes of the race and why we rode for Bryan. The race brought out the best in us all as adrenaline, exhaustion, the smell of sweat, and hard work removed all pretense and labels.
We finished strong, and a bond was refortified that perhaps remained dormant for a few seasons. Bryan taught us that our greatest strength is an unconditional love for one another and somewhere, somehow we remembered the love and let go of the fear, hurt, and pain that we had carried on our personal journeys. To ride fast, one must ride light, exposed to life and the elements.
To prepare for the race, many of us rode stationary bikes for several months. We built muscles and endurance, but we really weren’t going anywhere. There comes a time when we need to take the training wheels off and trust that our natural instincts and knowledge will kick in to gear. Yes, we are going to fall, and get scraped up sometimes.
We all fall off the proverbial bike from time to time, and it can represent a crossroads in our journey. Some of our best work can take place outside of the office, the computer, and the prescribed work plan. After a fall, we can choose to sit in the middle of the road and tell the story of falling off the bike over and over and let life pass us by or brush ourselves off, head up the road, and be grateful for the learning experience.
Here are the life lessons from our road trip that we share with hopes that you will saddle up and go for the ride of your life and achieve your personal best.
1. Success is in the preparation. Remember that you use a lot of energy to break through inertia and less once you get up to speed
Make a plan and stick to it. We often fail to prepare. A successful bike ride or work endeavor begins months before the race. Both wheels of the bicycle need correct air pressure for a smooth ride. The gears on your bike and in your head need to all work and be in a condition to move up and down to be the most efficient no matter what the inclines and declines of life have in store.
Don’t focus on your previous falls, which can throw you off balance. Focus on the wisdom gained, and move forward stronger.
Give it all you’ve got to move upward and forward. It may feel like you are using everything you have, but you will still have some fuel left. Pedal like there is no tomorrow. Don’t leave this world with paths not traveled and gears not used. Growth and healing begin when we accept who we are, forgive others, and travel light. You are going to hit rough patches in life. Do your best to fall forward.
2. Pain can be your best teacher