Let me tell you a story. A story about the man who missed one of the biggest financial opportunities on earth.
Ronald Wayne was the classic risk averse individual who cautiously went through life.
Wayne is the man who, in 1976, sold his 10% stake in Apple for a total of $2,300. He had previously registered the company with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who had 45% stake each, and he was supposed to be the tiebreaker. Although he was not the original inventor of the brand, Wayne wrote the partnership agreement on which Apple was founded, illustrated the first Apple logo and wrote the Apple 1 manual. That didn’t stop him from losing out.
Ronald Wayne maintains that he has no regret whatsoever of his actions as they were made based on available information, nonetheless considering that a 10% stake in Apple of today will amount to $95 billion one cannot but believe that Wayne would resent himself in private.
Wayne’s reason for selling his stake and relinquishing his position in Apple was because he reasoned that he had more to lose in assets than the two Steves in the case of any failure given that all members of a partnership are held liable for its liabilities. A rational decision by any standards, especially given previous losses from his first business of selling slot machines. A fear never left him as he later sold the original Apple contract papers for $500 in the 1990s; a sale he openly regrets as it was auctioned for $1.6m in 2011.
Most folks suffer from this fear of loss that becomes more acute in old age and leaves a trail of regret.
You may feel that your lot would have been better had you taken that risk earlier in life but you never consider the consequence of what a failure would have cost you. More often than not, we make the best decisions per time but in retrospect we romanticize the road less traveled.
If you have lost anything worthwhile as a result of your risk aversion or your better judgment, retirement is not a time to rue your losses rather, it is a time to celebrate your victories. Trust me, you’ve had a lot of them; that you have lived this long is a victory over reckless endangerment. It’s a good place to start.