George Orwell, the author of 1984 and Animal Farm, characterized the value of the U.S. military perfectly:
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” 
Robert O'Neill was a rough man.
He was this guy. Yes that guy.
A true hero.
Not only is he one of the most decorated Navy SEAL combat veterans (more than 52 military honors including two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy/Marine Corp Commendations with Valor), he completed over 400 combat missions in four of the most difficult, hostile theaters of war known to man without a single guy on his team dying. He obviously knows a thing or two about success. O'Neill defines mission success simply as achieving a goal with a positive outcome.
We recently had the opportunity to meet and listen to O'Neill talk about his service, business lessons learned from combat, and applicability of his military career to everyday life. His simple battle-tested advice:
(1) Always separate your decision-making from your emotions
(2) Be prepared
(3) Never quit
While that is basic stuff, it is important stuff.
One of O'Neill’s most captivating comments was his distinction between fear and panic and its impact on decision making. Fear is an emotion that is focused on an anticipatory perspective. If you are fearful, you will find risk in everything you see. Not only can fear lead to negative physiological changes, but it can also lead to negative changes in how a person thinks and reacts. Panic is a capitulatory reaction to fear and characterized by the pressure to act immediately without reasonable analysis. Rational decision making may suffer as a result. O’Neill contends: 
"Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to recognize fear, push it aside, and actively participate in saving your own life. No one accomplishes anything positive by panicking, panic is contagious and will get you killed. You can choose to carry fear around like a bag of bricks on your shoulders, or you can push it aside. Dealing with fear by keeping one's cool is easier when you are properly prepared for the mission at hand.” 
These lessons can be applicable to investing. It is easy to get inflated with fear when markets experience severe drawdowns, defined as the peak-to-trough decline during a specific record period of an investment, fund or commodity. Fear breeds increasing feelings of dread, which may ultimately lead to panic through bad investment decision making, e.g., selling when the market goes down. A sound investment plan can help address appropriate action during times of severe market declines and works to help you push aside panic and fear. The plan should focus on long-term goals and educate on the harmful effects of selling when the stock market is getting clobbered in the short term.
Before O'Neill left for his first mission as a SEAL, his instructor gave him some advice that he never forgot:
"You’re about to go to war for the first time in your life. The enemy is all of your doubts, all your fears, and everyone back home who told you ‘you can’t do it.’ Keep your head down, keep moving forward, and, no matter what, never quit. You will be fine."
Market volatility is a permanent component of investing, and, therefore, your plan should be a permanent component of your investment experience. Never quit on your investment plan. As O’Neill’s instructor states: 
“You will be fine.”
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of author and are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Reference to an index does not imply that a portfolio will achieve return, volatility, or other results similar to an index. Performance of an index is not illustrative of any account, portfolio or strategy managed by Sequoia Financial Group. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

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Investment advisory services offered through Sequoia Financial Advisors, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Registration as an investment advisor does not imply a certain level of skill or training.

On the Hero Robert O’Neill, Investment Plans & Never Quitting | Sequoia Financial Group


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