The year was 2010, I was newly engaged and getting married in just a few months. I was in the process of switching my business to a different and larger firm/office. My previous office was pretty small, and now I was part of a much larger group with many new and more senior advisors to learn from. Out of everyone, there was one advisor in Buffalo who always seemed to come up in conversation, Donny. People would say, “It never rains on Donny.” They would recount that thunderstruck day of the last golf tournament until Donny arrived and then the clouds melted away to one of the most beautiful days of the year. Another occasion, how they were at the airport, convinced their return flight would be cancelled and as soon as Donny arrived, with a cup of hot chocolate in his hand, the airline announced they would be departing on time. Naturally, I had to meet him and if he was willing to share, hear his story.
Not knowing me from a hole in the wall, Donny very graciously agreed to meet and said he insisted on buying me breakfast if I was willing to make the trip to Buffalo. So I drove about an hour to Buffalo to meet him at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It was a typical March day in Western New York with miles of gray outstretched as far as the eye could see. When I parked and got out of my car (all joking aside) the gray had parted just a little and a few rays of sunshine beamed down over the metal roof of the Cracker Barrel. There, sitting in one of the rocking chairs out front, with what looked like a half grin on his face, sat Donny slowly rocking back and forth. The stories were true. He had a firm, but inviting handshake and a calming demeanor.
We sat down and I peppered him with all kinds of questions I thought I needed the answers to. He told me about his early career, a couple things he wished he had done differently, and his hopes for retirement. In the end, much of his success and impervious positive outlook he credited to a handful of good books, hard lessons learned, and a conscious decision decades earlier to get up each day and go with the flow. So I left that breakfast and nothing has ever gotten under my skin again. Wait, or maybe I made it across the parking lot before someone/thing ticked me off. That memory is a little fuzzy 🙂 What isn’t fuzzy is that I left that breakfast a better financial advisor and even a little better of a person that day. I left knowing that I didn’t need to have all the answers or know every next move. I just needed a plan and a positive enough outlook to not get discouraged at the first sign of a storm ahead.
No matter how good our financial plan or how good our preparation, analysis or research, things will inevitably stray off course. Life will bring new variables, new surprises, twists and turns. We get to choose, or at least try, to work towards not letting every rain drop distract us from the road ahead and the potential of all the good things to come. In the end, it’s not that it never rained on Donny. Donny just decided not to mind.
I wish the same for you, and me, and a year full of umbrellas.