I was reading an article in the July issue of The Atlantic titled, Infectious Exuberance. The author, Richard Shiler was writing about the boom and bust in the real estate market that have been a part of the history of the U.S.
One of the things that he talks about is how booms continue until the inevitable bust happens. He says that when a boom is happening, most people live in the “bubble” of beliefs that foster the boom. Beliefs such as “the prices of houses will continue to increase at 10% per year indefinitely” or “the safest investment you can make is buying a home”. These and other beliefs are accepted as truth by a large enough portion of the population and create a mood of inevitability.
There are some people who do not hold these beliefs. They may believe, “whenever there is a boom a bust will follow” or “it is impossible for this type of growth to continue.” Whatever their beliefs, they are watching with a different set of eyes if you will. They can see when indicators start showing a change that may lead to a reversal of the current trends of growth. While people living in the “bubble” of beliefs of inevitable growth don’t see these trends at all.
Then the bust begins. Those that were living in the “bubble” of continuous growth are “surprised” What happened, they ask? Those that had different beliefs were clearly observing the coming changes and would take action before the bust gets a full head of steam.
I say all this because it revealed to me a phenomena that I have experienced in many areas of my life. I have had times when I was so attached to something working out such as a business relationship that I did not see the signs that someone else not living in my “bubble” of optimism would have easily seen. I did not take action to correct the situation until it failed and I, like the people living in the “bubble” of inevitable growth, would have the sense of being “surprised”.
So right now, I am taking inventory of the “bubbles” that I am living in. What beliefs do I hold on to unquestioningly. For it is these beliefs that create a “blindness” in me and the outcome of continuing with these beliefs is often uncomfortable and not something I really want to happen.
What about you. What “bubbles” do you live in?