你还能胜任重大决策吗?/Are You Fit to Make Big Decisions?

你还能胜任重大决策吗?

不久前在香港的一次社交聚会中,我遇到了多年未见、已是满头华发的老友。

他和我一样,都是久居香港的外国人,也是一位先行者——在亚洲金融领域的很多方面都是先锋。他功成名就,备受尊重,是很多人眼中精明的商人。

我不知道他的准确年龄,但猜测应该是七十出头。

我问他近况如何,他的回答出乎意料,也让我兴味盎然。他公司的业绩依然坚挺,但他却自行卸下了很多参与重大商业决策的职责。原因呢?竟然是他意识到自己的判断力已大不如以前犀利,于是就把自我角色限制当成是风险管控的措施。他还说,在当今的商业环境中,有大群鲨鱼正虎视眈眈地准备愚弄、欺骗和“吃掉”你。

常识告诉我们,阅历丰富才能专业精湛、判断精准,对吧?可我朋友的说法却是,年龄能钝化人们做出某些商业决策的判断力。他并不害怕承认这个现实,这需要高度的自信和某种程度的勇气,令我十分钦佩。

插播一句,我朋友的健康状况非常良好!

闲聊中,朋友还分享了两段对他影响至深的经历。他家里有两位老者,都曾在事业上很有建树,眼下疾病缠身。他们曾收入颇丰,在过了正常退休年龄后仍坚持参与商业和投资决策。遗憾的是,在那些黄金年代,两人的投资决策出现了重大失误,最终只落得倾家荡产。朋友将此铭记于心,决意要避免类似恶果。

从中可见,人在退休前后应当减小对风险的胃口,因为错误的投资决策会导致灾难性的后果。合理限制老年人的唯一决策权有一定的道理。当然,前提是身边有完全可以信赖的人。

除了年老,生活中还会遇到其他需要当心商业和投资决策的情况,一是大悲,一是大病。

在这个例子中,常识需要某些限定。决策力的健康并不会按直线发展,就像身体健康一样也会出现波动,值得关注。

当那一刻来临时,能够优雅地承认现实,并将更多的权利委托给他人至关重要,否则将会付出高昂的代价。

Are You Fit to Make Big Decisions?

Not long ago I was at a social gathering in Hong Kong and bumped into a grey-haired old friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

Like me, he’s a long-term resident of Hong Kong, and a foreigner. He was an early player – in many respects a pioneer – in one part of the financial sector in Asia, and very successful. He has a fine reputation, well respected, widely considered a very smart businessman, etc.

I don’t know his exact age, but I’m guessing he’d be in his early to mid-70s.

I asked him what he’s been up to, and part of his answer surprised me and struck me as very interesting. His company is still going strong, but he has sharply curtailed his own role in making big business decisions. Why? Because he reckons his judgment is not as sharp as it used to be, so he limits his role, as a risk management measure. He also mentioned that in today’s business environment, there are abundant sharks ready to fool, cheat, or “eat” you.

Common sense would tell us that abundant experience should yield expertise and exceptionally good judgment, right? Yet my friend suggests that age can also dull one’s ability to make certain types of business decisions. He is not afraid to admit that fact, which takes a high degree of self-confidence and a certain amount of courage. I respect him for that.

He is in perfectly good health, by the way.

As we talked, my friend shared two experiences which impacted him deeply. He had two older family members, both now deceased, who were also very successful in business during their careers. Both made fortunes, and both continued their involvement in business and investment decision-making well past the normal retirement age. Unfortunately, during those golden years, both of them made disastrously bad investment decisions and lost everything. My friend took this to heart and decided he would avoid the risk of a similar bad outcome.

I think one moral of the story is that one’s appetite for risk should be tempered in the years before and after retirement, because the consequences of a bad investment decision can be catastrophic. It also makes sense to establish sensible limits around the scope of one’s sole decision-making in advanced years. This of course presupposes that there will be people nearby in whom you trust.

Apart from old age, there are other circumstances which can crop up in life, in which great care should be exercised with regard to business and investment decision-making. One is profound grief, and another is life-threatening illness.

This is one instance where common sense needs some qualification. Our fitness for decision-making does not progress in a straight linear fashion. Like physical fitness, there are ups and downs along the road, which are worth paying attention to.

When the time comes, it’s important to be able to admit that reality gracefully, and delegate more authority to others. Failure to do so could prove very costly.

 


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