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13-May-2006
Letter to a Newborn Son, Part II, by Victor Niederhoffer

You were named after two characters, Jack Aubrey, a very worthy character Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Forester wrote about in their series of books about the adventures of the greatest British naval captain in history, who traveled the world with great skill and overcame great danger to make the world safe for freedom; and Charles Darwin, the greatest biologist, who after a trip around the world discovered the nature of life and change. While both showed extraordinary abilities, mental and physical strength, study, science, and character -- friendship, loyalty, persistence -- in their quests for success, the heroic quality of Jack Aubrey is what inspired your first name.

Heroism is the quality of using great strength to overcome danger toward some noble goal. It is usually associated with the feats of heroes like Hercules and Odysseus and Aeneas who go on great, dangerous adventures around the world to right wrongs and make the world a better place.

Most of these hero stories have some common themes: travels far and wide, romance and peril with a great woman, grave challenges to born, the building of a home, a fight with evil characters and the achievement of great goals and the ultimate uncertainty about their fate and reputation. Indeed, you will learn all of life is a miracle in the sense that out of the millions of possibilities of sperm trying to catch the egg, the chance that any one will capture the prize is highly improbable. For you to be born, you had to overcome not only these normal great odds but the conjunction of many separately unlikely events. And yes, your parents had to perform some heroic acts of their own involving that were not entirely devoid of negative consequences to set the stage for your heroic turn.

Heroes don't have to conquer dragons or live in heavens. They can do everyday things and live in real homes. But they must overcome risk, and they must have lofty goals. Anything good that you achieve in life is going to be fraught with risk and uncertainty. Like Jack Aubrey and other heroes, to achieve greatness in life you are going to have to develop all the aptitudes and abilities that your genes and environment have given you to overcome these risks so you can achieve great things. You will have to realize that the road to achieve them will be as difficult as those that Jack and the other heroes undertook in fighting the French or discovering scientific principles; or, perhaps most important of all, being a wonderful and loyal friend, helping others to achieve greatness whether in his own family, his friends or his loyal shipmates. But at the end, if you approach life in a heroic fashion you'll go a lot further than if you follow the tried-and-true humdrum path that most of us must travel in order to deal with the ordinary challenges of life.

Heroism today is usually associated with the acts of policemen, firemen and soldiers. But the real opportunities for heroic acts come in your everyday life, after you've used everything you've been given to overcome some great danger or achieve a worthy goal. Your father has not been devoid of heroic qualities in his everyday life as a speculator. Nowhere are the dangers greater, the risks more daunting and qualities needed to surmount them more encompassing. Your mother is a hero also, because she has had to overcome a million obstacles that would have killed an ordinary person in order to achieve her noble goals of being a successful writer of thousands of articles, co-author of a book with your father, and mother at the age of 51.

These are just everyday examples of noble goals that can be achieved by everyday people doing everyday things if they have the courage and the heroic spirit and a heroic quest a la Jack Aubrey in mind.

The road to a successful life in many things including specdom which your daddy professes requires heroism. You must travel to all areas of the world of knowledge, including economics, psychology, statistics, physics, . You must experience all aspects of life, gambling, sports, trading, loss, victory, friendship,. You must be of good character to inspire friends , partners, and employees. Most of all you must have courage and inner physical and mental strength to overcome danger. The danger usually comes when there is great or small panic. That's when you have to take out the canes, both physical and mental that you have learned to step into the fray. But at a more general level, the courage you must have is to overcome conventional thinking, the ideas that have the world in their grip at any one time- that are designed to make you a good paying citizen in the entitlement or fixed sum society that the powers that be , whether in the brokerage community, or the market would have you play a proper role in. In the mortal case , which you unfortunately are rather than a God who cant die, the difficulties of heroic acts are even greater because you can die. So you have to make sure like Jack Aubrey that you never risk too much on any one battle so that you are killed in action. Related to this, when you do lose, you should always have the ability to escape, even if it requires like Jack Aubrey did in Post Captain to dress as a bear.

 

 

 

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