Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Bottom Line

What is the bottom line? Supposedly the ultimate truth for the declarer of such. If you, like me, prefer to know the truth, it's great to think that such is possible. However I find that oft the bottom line is more like a "do not cross" and when uttered to me, I feel boxed in, unable to maneuver even if there were an exit point other than the trap door. It's a "take it or leave it" challenge without the time for analysis; the ultimatum is in your face so it's a yes, no, do not pass go and there I am judged, locked up, throw away the key forgotten.

On the other hand there's the "no bottom line" where I don't get any clues, guidance or hint of a direction; bottom is up, up is down and sideways is everywhere. Confusion rules under the guise of being nice and accommodating, wearing a badge of a conformist. Having the least consideration of judgement, one that usually ends in being "bottom lined" painfully by an outside force; abrupt and final perhaps as in a twilight zone.

Bottom lines come to meet us in other ways as well. The kind I prefer gives me more time to make that ultimate decision to know when and where a smoother transition is possible. I feel that way I can have a conversation an impact and maybe some influence on the outcome, and the feeling of being in some control of that final decision; allowing me the line I've also chosen, not just chosen for me; more of an agreement than an ultimatum.

I've struggled with it all, sometimes being very lax in my manner and other times way too tight but I assure you that the ones I remember are the ones that were forced on me; those being the most difficult to swallow and the ones we should all learn from and never revisit. Alas, if only we could be so perfect, never needing a repeat lesson on anything.

So we've met them all, the abrupt, the obscure and the put off. None of them feel good really for you already know I'm speaking of stops. Not easy to set for by its very "definition" it means "loss" of some funds we've put at risk. Even when speaking of a trailing stop once gains have been made, it's not easy to say: OK I'm willing to give back ___ $ in order to make more gain.
Yet that is exactly what this game is about: willing to give in order to gain and to set that bottom line is perhaps it's most crucial though difficult step.

It may help you to think of it this way: bottom lines keep you from hitting bottom.