The human experience that we all share has numerous threads running through it. Those threads might be different lengths, different colors, different textures even… but they are common to mankind. Today we are taking a look at the experiences of one of our greatest American astronauts, and a few of the threads that he experienced and how those same threads apply to your retirement and investing strategies.
NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died on January 16 of 2017 in his Houston home. He was 82.
At 32 years old, Cernan, a Navy captain and pilot before he joined NASA, became the second American astronaut — and the youngest — to walk in space.
He was also the member of a small, select club as one of three people who have traveled to the moon twice. Cernan was the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 10 mission, the “dress rehearsal” that made it possible for the historic moon landing a few months later.
His second trip, which established him as the last human to set foot on the moon, was NASA’s final lunar mission. Cernan also broke several NASA records on that 1972 mission, including the longest time spent in lunar orbit and the largest collection of lunar samples ever brought back to earth.
The three threads that we want to focus upon are common to all of us, and by studying these common experiences, we can grow our investments and work to help ensure security into our retirement years.
1. Don’t let fear stand in your way: The first two times Cernan went to space, things didn’t exactly go as planned. That historic spacewalk ended with him literally flying blind. As he made his way back to the spacecraft, a glitch caused his spacesuit to overheat and flood his helmet with fog. And during Apollo 10, at one point the module began to dangerously spin off course. Scary as these experiences might have been, Cernan did not let them prevent him from commanding that final mission.
There may be moments in your investment strategy where you feel like your helmet is full of fog and your ship is spinning off course. The worst thing you can do in this instance is to do something immediately that you don’t fully understand the consequences of… the effects, of which can be devastating to your future. Instead, take a moment and pause. Contact your advisor, even a couple different advisors, and be methodical in your actions even if you are feeling a little fearful of the circumstances you’re facing.
2. Be a mentor: In his remembrance of Cernan, Bolden recalled, “In my last conversation with him, he spoke of his lingering desire to inspire the youth of our nation to undertake the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies, and to dare to dream and explore.” The astronaut understood the importance of passing on his wisdom to the next generation.
It’s a proven fact that we learn at a rapid rate when we are mentoring, or teaching, others how to do something. Are you wanting to grow in your investment experience and understanding? Teach someone else all about what you’re doing and watch how you both grow in your understanding and become better investors.
3. Great achievements come from collaboration: Cernan famously said as Apollo 17 arrived on the moon: “The Challenger has landed. I’d like to dedicate the first step of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible.” The astronaut knew from hard-won experience that the only way to accomplish big goals was to work together.
No man is an island. Cernan knew this first hand. It’s important that you collaborate with others and develop a team that you can work with and discuss investment strategies with. You will all gain from your learning and growth together.