It’s funny. We can take a negative attribute/behavior and put the word “strategic” in front of it and all of the sudden it doesn’t appear as bad. Why? Because now we are purposely behaving a certain way to obtain a specific outcome. And this can be both a great benefit or detriment to us – depending on when, how and where we apply it.
The Virtue of Strategic Ignorance
Ignorance is not being informed. Strategic ignorance is choosing not to be informed for a specific reason. This can be a great virtue when it comes to investing. You don’t need to be informed of the value of your assets every minute, day or month. And when markets inevitably correct and people are losing money, many investors will choose to not look so they aren’t influenced to sell low…which is the natural reaction when we view losses. This is a positive attribute! Not easy to do, but a wise use of strategic ignorance.
The Perils of Strategic Ignorance
Oftentimes we will choose to avoid information because we are afraid to learn of some outcome and subsequent remedy. This is like the child playing hide and seek who hides in the middle of the room but doesn’t think others can see him because he is covering his eyes. “Hey, if I don’t know about it then there isn’t an issue.”
Think about how often we do this. We have on-going pain, but don’t want to get it checked out because it could be a disease or lead to surgery. Get my blood work done? No way. Then I might be told to avoid certain food and/or to exercise. Get on a scale? Maybe tomorrow (or next Jan). I’m not interested in eating salad the rest of my life. Financial checkup? I don’t think so. I don’t have any extra money to save. Plus retirement is way out there. Maybe in a few years.
The truth is that avoiding the truth doesn’t make it go away, and many times by ignoring the issues they get worse. A lot worse. Until we look back and say, “I wish I would have tackled this years ago.” So, how do we get the desire and courage to know more about our situation (physical, material, spiritual) to tackle shortcomings today so we don’t regret it later on?
Identify & Focus on What You Value
Focus on the Part You Can Control (your actions/reactions)
Find Out How Your Actions Today Support Your Values
The use of strategic ignorance, just like many things in life, can be both a positive and a negative depending on how, where and when it is applied. We all incorporate it at some point in our lives. Let’s ensure that we apply it wisely. And for those times where we would prefer not to know? Let’s be sure we put our values ahead of our preference for strategic ignorance.