A recent article on the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) website reminded me of the value of situational awareness and a big picture orientation.
I was on one of my first long training flights with my flight instructor, navigating a Cessna 172 from Providence (KPVD) to our home airport of Norwood (KOWD).
As I was preparing to check in with Norwood tower, my flight instructor said, “OK so the wind’s from 270 so they’ll probably just have you enter the pattern on a left downwind for runway 28.”
Translation: “The wind is coming from the west (270 degrees), so the most likely runway is into the direction of the wind, which would be runway 28 (which is oriented at about 280 degrees). The normal traffic pattern is to the right, but based on the direction we’re coming from, the controller will probably have you fly a pattern to the left and sequence in with existing traffic. You’ll enter on a 45-degree angle to the left downwind leg.”
When the controller gave us those exact instructions moments later, I looked over at my instructor like he was some sort of mystical mind reader. How could he possibly know what the controller was going to say?
As I progressed through flight training, I learned that at busier airports it’s all about anticipating the next steps.
As a beginner, you hear the air traffic controller’s instructions, then you scramble to comply. As an expert, you already have a pretty good idea in mind of what they’re going to say, then their instructions simply confirm what you were already planning to do.
Novice investors are often caught off guard by market movements. Something happens that they’re totally unprepared for, and then they scramble to adjust their positioning.
Experienced investors have a good market awareness. They observe what’s happening with asset classes of interest. They have a sense of what is most likely to happen next, because they have studied market history. Most importantly, they have a game plan in mind based on the probable future path of the markets.
Investing, like flying, is not about predicting the future. As much as many of us would like, it’s never about certainties, but always about probabilities.
The most successful investors don’t know what’s going to happen next. They just have a pretty good idea and a very good game plan.
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