Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2016 Message - “En Pointe” is 'To the Point'...of Life.

As 2015 fades away, for many becoming yet another digitally logged chapter of an ever more cyber-merged and so unconsciously cyber-led existence, the time is apposite to awaken the sense of self; and so the innate potential within all.

Becoming “all you want to be” is of course as much about the journey as the destination; the never-ending formation of self.

Past ages revered those wise sages who could guide the consciousness of the many as part of a desire for greater civilisation. The edicts of 'big thinking' morphed into the everyday actions of people; the realm of philosophy then seemingly so much more apparent than today.

Though this be true as a consequence of our complex modern age, its demands and distractions, efforts toward high-mindedness have resurfaced, and increasingly disseminated amongst the increasing many, not just the academic few, obviously thanks to the global reach of the net.

New-new-age provision by the likes of popular thinkers ranging from the proto-Marxist Slavoj Zizek to the Capitalism-subsumed Alain de Botton.

The former is known for his characterful idiosyncratic manner, loquaciousness and pop-culture allegories, but ironically given his apparent academic remoteness offers very prescient prescriptions for life in the real world. The latter is far more commercially attuned as the scion of a very wealthy financier family, today seeking to expand the popularity and 'monetisation' of his 'School of Life', which offers lessons in 'being' far less insightful (than Zizek), but far more easily applied as the 21st century version of Deepak Chopra.

[NB The irony of course that such insights are today seemingly more palatable through a softly-spoken WASP mouthpiece to an aspirant, increasingly 'middle-class', global audience. Others who seek to make their mark by merging wealth, philanthropy and philosophy, perhaps best exemplified by George Soros, might seek to emulate de Botton's approach].

For all such good intentions, and the positive impact of Zizek, de Botton et al, fact is that for most the recognition of such ideals is the simple part, far harder is demonstration of such ideals in word and action.

With this in mind, investment-auto-motives suggests that the beginning of becoming “all that you can be” might stem from the advantages of simple, unwavering personal focus; whether for purely personal, amateur or professional reasons.

Such targeted application not only provides a central aim in life, but provides the basis for a high mindedness which in turn fosters moral fortitude. 

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell highlighted the 10,000 hour rule; notionally the time expended to become proficient in a specific activity. Yet whilst nothing is gained without the time absorbed by dedication, this is overtly simplistic; people absorb, evolve and improve at different rates given their individual propensity and the size of the task undertaken.

Most find it better to be inspired by the achievements of 'the best in their field', where names such as Tazio Nuvolari or Ayrten Senna are renowned as 'the gods' of motor racing, whilst names such as Christiaan Barnard or Sanjay Gupta represent the heady heights for first term medical students.

Yet for a sense of true dedication, the literal pain of the process, and the zen-like qualities necessary – both absorbed and radiated – the journey of the Prima Ballerina from childhood to zenith says it all.

Whilst Darcey Bussell raises the profile of male dancers today, led by Carlos Acosta and others  - necessary to bolster the under-populated male ranks - the highly demanding roles of classical and contemporary ballet requires that a female dancer must physically and mentally exert herself far harder in comparison to the male.

For her the journey to mental and so physical strength is more tortuous, whilst men leap and hold in accordance to their naturally stronger capabilities, women must obtain a reach and perfectly held contorted posture that comes far less naturally. Only achieved through far more blood, sweat and tears.

The Prima Ballerina therefore is not simply a metaphor for personal dedication but the living embodiment of the philosophical growth path, whereby the conventional human condition must be overcome and directed to fulfil its innate potential.

To this end, the personal strength required of many a teenage hopeful should be a lesson to us all.

As such, 'En Pointe' is very much “To the Point”...of Life

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Alternative Christmas Message – Everyday Actualisation of “The Father and The Son”

The holy-days for Europe, the Americas, regions of Africa and parts of Australasia fast approach. Millennial-old phrases, both in original Latin and subsequently translated and condensed, will echo across Christendom.

The all encompassing “In nomine Patris et Filii, Spiritus Sancti” morphs into the short-hand of “Holy Father”, and will be recounted by many millions of people; the devout, even the rationally secular, and much in between.

Yet perhaps far more important for the tangible betterment of this world, is not that of the obviously ethereal relationship that exists between a person and the divine, which itself has been positively and negatively 'brokered' by the Church (in its many denominational forms), but in the filial sense relating to the all too human.

The relationship between parent and child, arguably the holiest of 'god given' connections.

At a time of increasingly fragmented society - wherein the reality of broken families becomes 're-affirmed' as 'patchwork families,' and the very creation of self-identity has become almost a 'pick and choose' affair within a cyber-promoted spectrum of social beliefs and possibilities – so more than ever the relationship between father and son (and its family variants) becomes increasingly important. Indeed critical.

Across the world millions connect to 'the being in the sky' for spiritual succour and guidance, putting belief in a faith-based process often because the all too human reality has crumbled through poor experience.

Christmas and the Nativity is the remembrance of when God sent his Son amongst the peoples to demonstrate a better way, this the very foci of the dynamic between parent and child. And obviously critical for any society is the passed-on learning of strong moral values, self-belief and associated determination, consideration of others and generally appropriate social behaviour.

Yet this all too typically becomes over-whelmed by the ever heavier personal requirements and ever more infantile distractions of contemporary society.

It is then necessary to invoke high profile examples of how the strength of a bond between a parent and a child has instilled the latter with not only good qualities, but vitally, the manner in which that child recognises and gives thanks for parental influence. The security provided, the moral, educational, physical and financial assistance given, and the sacrifices made to ensure the child could fulfil his or her own potential.

To this end investment-auto-motives juxtaposes the acclaimed gratitude shown by two high profile personalities; who themselves are public luminaries for the investment arena and automotive sector:

Mr Warren Buffett and Mr Lewis Hamilton

These two men - old and young – encompass the, nearly forgotten and socially invisible, virtue of fatherly (ie parental) reverence. Born into very different worlds, fifty-five years apart, but are of the same basic mindset: dedication and appreciation.

An oft told story directed to 'mom and pop' investors is that Buffett was born into comparative middle-class privilege, but just after the Great Depression hit, even as far inland as Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Although his father had himself endured hard times in that period, Buffett Snr rose to the rarefied ranks of a Congressmen; taking his hard earned humanitarianism with him to Washington; even if ideals were diluted the 'real politik' of Washington and slow pace of social change. It is perhaps because of that experience, that today Buffett prefers to give and pledge toward good causes directly and through associated foundations.

Hamilton was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK, the son of a 2nd generation Grenadian immigrant. His father undoubtedly faced his own very different subtle and not so subtle race-based battles in a New Town that was at the time ostensibly racially homogeneous. Importantly, it appears that he instilled into his own son a far rarer, far more important, 'mixed identity': that of steely ambition combined with seemingly good heart.

Yet what makes both men distinctive, beyond their respective career achievements, beyond their contrasting ages, and beyond their obvious success and wealth (not displayed by Buffett, and without conceit from Hamilton) is the fact that they both know instinctively and objectively, that without the enormous emotional and practical support of their fathers / parents, they would not have become the persons they are today; and as such possibly not have succeeded as far as they have in their professional ambitions.

Both demonstrate a humility in very different ways, that quality is present precisely because of their respective debt of gratitude to those who molded them.

So, as Christians today look to the 'Holy Father', parents and children of whatever age, whether present or passed-on, should look to the more tangible divine spirit that connects themselves.

And very consciously, demonstrate to and for each other, the best of themselves.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Seasonal Message - The Kindness of Others

With western holy-days approaching and consciousness turned to higher things, it is the right time to offer thanks to those who have previously offered kind reflection.

Although it is obvious that the prime focus of investment-auto-motives is upon the issues of value creation within the global investment community, and as such operates remotely from the discipline of vehicle design, the understanding of acute mutual sincerity must be recognised.

Whilst the watch-word of absolute independence from external influence must endure, enough time has now passed to provide acknowledgement of those whose efforts are innately courteous to others.

Nakamura-san, your 'free-flowing' generosity of spirit was much appreciated; an illustration of Japan's traditional edict of subtlety, which itself speaks volumes.