“I learned a lot from my favorite fortune cookie: The cautious seldom err or write great poetry.”

— Howard Marks, The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

One of my most important axioms for living is: If it must be done, it’s worth doing poorly.

To illustrate I often use the example of a toilet that is stopped up and running over.  Ideally having a plumber to fix the problem would be great.  But if push comes to shove, anybody with even a vague idea of how to shut the water off and use a plunger will work.


And it is a very important however

There are certain areas of life that should be error free zones.

In other words, there are certain area of that are so important, so vital, so eternal that to err would be disastrous. 

That is the spirit behind Howard Marks’ quote.  Cautious people will probably not be your great innovators, explorers, and poets.  But they will probably live a lot longer and for sure they will make far fewer errors.

Of course the goal in life is not to live a timid, safe, and errorless life unless…

Unless to err is to destroy that which you treasure and love the most,

Unless it means all hope of recovery,

Unless it means the end of life as you know it,

Unless it means you lose your soul.

The ONE THING: There are some things in life of such importance that to err in judgement would be to bring irreconcilable grief and loss.  Wisdom is knowing what they are and living accordingly.

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Matthew 16:26
Photo by Daniel Seßler on Unsplash

One thought on “No Error Zones

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