I already had great respect for Morgan Housel. For years he’s been one of the most articulate financial writers on the web. I’ve also learned, from the few conversations we’ve had at evidence-based investing conferences, that he’s intellectually razor sharp.
But Morgan managed to rise even higher in my estimation with his recent blog post, Overcoming your demons. In it he discusses stuttering, a condition that affects about 20% of children, though most outgrow it by the age of five. Just 0.1% stutter into adulthood. Morgan is one of them, and so, as it happens, am I.
Whether or not you stutter yourself or have a friend or loved on who does, I strongly urge you to read his article. Not only does he precisely describe what it feels like to stutter (or the sense that you’re about to), but he also explains how, over the years, he’s largely managed to control it.
Five years ago, Morgan says he could never have dreamed he’d be able to speak at a conference; it’s now become a regular occurrence.
I don’t know exactly when my own stutter developed, but I remember having it especially bad at the age of eight when I went away to a particularly spartan boarding school and found I missed the comforts of home!
Like Morgan, I feared it would thwart my ambition to be an actor. But, again like Morgan, I learned to deal with it just enough to ensure that it didn’t hold me back. I didn’t make it as a pro, but after a season with the National Youth Theatre and a couple of small parts on television, I felt I’d done as much acting as I wanted to. I then went on to enjoy a moderately successful career of more than 20 years in broadcast journalism —
another profession for which a stutter would normally be a disqualification.
No, I’m not cured. I stutter still now, particularly on the telephone. But, frustrating and embarrassing as it is, I’m much more at peace with it than I’ve ever been.
To quote Morgan:
“Inside of every struggle is the seed of some of the happiest moments of your life. One of (the things that make us happy) is progress in what you’re pursuing. And the most progress is possible in endeavours where you’re starting in a hole, deep in the red, with a big gap between your current position and the end goal of what’s attainable.”
There is, says Morgan, another key takeaway from his experience of stuttering — namely that you never know what struggles people are hiding.
“I’ve always wondered how many people I know are stutterers,” he writes, “but, like me, have kept it mostly hidden. And how many other issues are like that? Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a façade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.”
Life isn’t easy. Everyone’s struggling with something. Thank you, Morgan, for reminding us that we should all give each other a little more credit for coping as well as we do.