Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

What’s Your PERSONAL “Dow Jones” Average?

I remember the arguments with CFO, Gene Rager, as vividly as if they were yesterday.  He posited that labor was the only thing worth anything: of any monetary value whatsoever.  Every attempt I made to thwart his position was handily rebutted.

Labor hours in industrial measuring terms.  Or, in personal language.  Time.  The seconds of your personal passing clock.  These are the currency in question on the trading floor of your life.

People bat around the NYSE news, the “Dow Jones average,” and the latest news from the NASDAQ as if they were the ultimate governing principles of our  national life.  They are mighty important components in the global view (the macro). If you are an investor or your income is tied in any way to national financial performance, they are significant to your personal view, as well (the micro).

Using the New York Stock exchange as a model I am going explore my personal “dow jones” average.  Today’s Dow finds its root in a set of folks based in fiscal journalism and statistics. It’s accepted anniversary is May 26, 1896.  The measure it is known as today has undergone scores of transitions in its 115 year history.  It can honestly be said that it has always been an assessment tool and a means to measure certain financial realities.  Certain realities, not ALL realities.  Today’s Dow tracks 30 stocks.  Thirty. (The composite average Dow tracks 65 companies).  In other terms, the Dow is like gathering 30 kids from representative kindergarten classes across the country and taking their temperature on a daily basis.  During the cold season the average would be rather dismal.  During the best days, free of allergens and contagion, the average would appear mighty healthy.  The average temperature may not reflect the actual health of all kindergarten age kids, but it would be a measure, an index.  ONE way among many of looking at this one thing.

So – financial health of the country aside, I want to bring this measuring model into my own personal experience.  If Gene was right and my only true trading capital is my time…what are my indices saying about my performance these days?

In the context of a personal measure, the balance in my bank account becomes one of many measures of my performance.  Not THE measure, but a measure.  It is contrary to conventional wisdom to suggest that my success is not measured by how much money I make.  It is A measure.  It is not THE measure.

My personal measures certainly don’t date back 115 years like the Dow does.  My measures rose out of a period of time of absolute clarity in which I wrote my life mission statement.  I could call it, instead, my life measure statement.  THIS is my personal Dow Jones Index.  I apply it broadly, across the spectrum of the investments of my life (i.e. as the Dow does with an assorted spectrum of blue-chip stocks) and measure daily how I have done against the base line of what I identify as important.  You may be familiar with my measures: they have made their way around the world in speeches, memorial services, graduation and promotion announcements and the like.  My measures are featured in the visual leading this poster…poster 27003 from my friends at

Those words provide me the capacity to measure what I believe is important.  Financial matters are one among many.  MANY.  I am not determined in ebb or flow by the contents of my bank account.  The touch economic challenges have knocked on my door, too.  Just like many readers are experiencing.  Just last week when I shared in conversation that economic times are rough I had this retort, “I would never have guessed that you weren’t just absolutely wealthy – you seem so happy!”  I value good fortune and am grateful for resources.  My happiness is not determined by my bank account.  My INDEX for measure can be found in the words on that poster.

Am I concerned for the health, specifically, the financial health of this country?  Yes.  Am I concerned for my own family’s financial health?  Yes I am.  Worry.  Anxiety.  Berating the decisions that have been made.  Woefully watching the actual Dow Jones or its more capricious friend, the NASDAQ, will not make me any more financial stable.  Doing what I am called to do with excellence, attention to detail and passion is what I am able to do at a personal level.  And when I apply my own Dow Jones index to measure the events of my day – it’s almost always a positive report.

What’s your index?  What elements of your life represent the average that you will measure?


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