Last week we had the tragic engine explosion on the Southwest Airlines flight 1380. Now there are pictures of many passengers not wearing their oxygen masks correctly. Not to diminish the gravity of the situation, but a large portion of the passengers seemed to be unaware that human beings breathe through their noses.
As The Wall Street Journal so eloquently pointed out, the airline industry has spent enormous resources on researching safety procedures yet they cannot fix one huge problem: getting passengers to do as they are told.
Why can’t we follow simple instructions? This extremely human trait starts young. Trust me, I coach youth sports. Many kids struggle with directions as simple as, “we are going that way.” We have a friend whose business is designing home entertainment systems. Clients often call him with problems, and he refers to many of these problems as RTFM issues – which is an acronym for Read The [blanking] Manual. Just follow the instructions! But, surely there is something wrong? There must be a better way, right?
My wife is like most women of her generation, in that she is overly concerned with what she eats and constantly searching for the next most nutritious food. If I just add this seed…or, look I can use applesauce instead of oil and it will taste the same (if you don’t possess taste buds). Many years back she and her friends were discussing this diet and that with a friend of ours who is a doctor. He finally turned to them and said, “Just eat healthy and exercise.” Simple instructions, why can’t we follow them?
Nowhere is this as true as it is in my business. Investment success just isn’t that complicated. Follow the simple instructions: Know what you own and why you own it. Make prudent, long-term decisions. Live on less than you make. Plan for your future by living for today and learning from yesterday. Simple instructions.
I’m not a flight attendant, but I know to pull on the tube and oxygen will start flowing. Use the straps to tighten the mask over your nose and mouth. Place your own mask on before assisting others. Simple instructions. How much easier would all of our lives be if we just followed our friend’s advice and RTFM.
Chuck Osborne, CFA
Managing Director, Iron Capital