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My first thoughts are generally good. At this age and with my experience, I suppose they should be. But first thoughts are still only that: first thoughts. They should be only the beginning of a process of exploration. Rarely do first thoughts stand the tests of time and season. And clinging to first thoughts by resisting new facts is a path to ignorance. Second thoughts and third ones take more time and deliberation, but the payoff is substantial. This month’s article (see below) is “Second-Order Thinking” by blogger Shane Parrish (www.farnamstreet.com). Parrish is a thought leader in the financial investment community and his article is based around Howard Marks’ new book, “The Most Important Thing”. Their thoughts are deep and informative. First and second level thinking can be applied to every decision we make in life: acquiring or leaving a home, a car, a business, a partner or a friend as well as developing our values, political views and spirituality. Where are you stuck in first level thinking? · Lost a friend because they “did something”?

  •   Try my mother’s version of second level thinking, which was “hate the sin, love the sinner”. Reach out and listen to what they were thinking. Maybe that will break the impasse or maybe it will confirm the friendship’s end. Better to be certain than to shut down on first impression.

· Challenged by a client who seems to no longer agree with your approach to their business?

  •   Visit or call to listen and learn why they may be changing, or even if they are. Recently, one of our borrowers regained a major account by using second level thinking and inquiry.

· Deciding on any investment of time or money?

  •   Many times, something looked good on the surface to me: a new volunteer job at church, a car I “had to have”, stock in a hot company. Then, after committing based on my first level thinking, I wound up later regretting my decision.

Second and third level thinking is always harder, that’s why it’s more valuable. There’s an easy to use chart included in Mr. Parrish’s blog. It’s akin to the old PROs and CONs T-bar lists I’ve long used and shared with my kids on major decisions. I’m going to plug in a trial decision on something that’s been bugging me lately and see if it helps me. At worst, I usually learn something! Peace. Tim McCarthy

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