Being Vulnerable – Safal Niveshak

Sketchbook of Wisdom: A Handcrafted Manual on the Pursuit of Wealth and the Good Life

Buy your book, which Morgan Housel calls a “masterpiece.” It features 50 timeless ideas—from Lord Krishna to Charlie Munger, Socrates to Warren Buffett, and Steve Jobs to Naval Ravikant—as they apply to our lives today. Click here to buy now with a special discount (only available until tonight, October 31, 2023).


When I came to Mumbai in 2001, I was 23 years old, fresh out of college. I was from a small town in Rajasthan with a population of less than 2 lacs or 0.02 million. Mumbai was 80 times more crowded and I was scared.

I have just accepted a seat in an MBA college in this city and my father has paid the fee. So there was no looking back. Looking back on those times now, it was quite possibly the scariest situation I’ve ever been in.

But I didn’t want to be a graduate, so I stayed, tried to get along with the town and its people and still stayed.

In my first few weeks at college I flunked more than half my classes because I was too shy and scared to step out of my accommodation onto the crowded roads and public transport and then into my class of ‘urban’ students.

I have never felt so vulnerable in my life.

By the way, a word vulnerable comes from the early 17th century Latin “vulnerare”, meaning “to injure”. The word literally means to be exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

And so, in 2001, I felt extremely vulnerable in the transition from a small town of known people to a megalopolis of unknown people.

The second time I felt this way, though not to such an extent, was when I was in the final stages of my decision resign from work at the end of 2010, even though I didn’t know where I was going to make a living, and even though I knew that I had a second child on the way.

Perhaps by 2011 I had become a little more mature, which is why the images of vulnerability from 2001 are more vivid in my mind than from 2011.

However, through these years of meeting people and reading the stories of those who have gone through tough times to come out safe and sound, and through my own experiences, I have changed my perspective on the idea of ​​being vulnerable, of being willingly or unwillingly exposed to external threats, especially of the emotional kind .

And the key lesson I learned here is that being vulnerable, being on edge, exposing yourself to big change is not such a bad thing after all. In fact, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but can be our greatest measure of courage.

Take the case of a seed. What would happen if the seed kept trying to save itself? The answer is that a new life would simply be impossible. The seed goes through the struggle of losing what it believes to be its identity, becomes vulnerable, and eventually grows into a beautiful leafy tree that is rich in fruit, flowers, and shade.

This also applies to the caterpillar, which must first be digested to become a beautiful butterfly.

Without this vulnerability, this voluntary openness to transformation, life cannot sprout. Right?

Anyway, after the initial years of big and small struggles in Mumbai and after quitting my job, I have seen my life change over the years. Struggles and vulnerabilities remain, but I see them as important building blocks on my journey to becoming a better human being.

Seventeen years ago, I believed that vulnerability was binding. It has now moved to the asset side of my life balance.

This very idea of ​​being vulnerable reminds me of a beautiful little poem by Erin Hanson that says –

Freedom awaits you
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my love, what if you fly?

Getting a new job or being fired, starting a new business or closing it, starting a relationship or leaving it, starting as a new investor or losing money in stocks, investing in the future of businesses even though they knew the future was unknown…these are all points in our lives that confront us with vulnerability.

When I’m talking specifically about investing, I’m referring to February here. A 2016 memo from Howard Marks where he wrote this –

My friend Sandy was an airplane pilot. When asked to describe his work, he always replies: “hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror”.

Let’s explain how investing follows a similar pattern – hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. Both of these situations make us vulnerable. In the first case, we are prone to losing money. In the latter case, we are vulnerable to missed opportunities.

But how we deal with such vulnerability is up to us. Do we cling to the fear of the unknown or do we have the courage to face it? And if we choose to face our fears, all we have to do is play our roles well and let go of what we cannot control.

Nature then takes its course and a few years later we may be surprised at what we were able to achieve just because we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable.


Sketchbook of Wisdom: A Handcrafted Manual on the Pursuit of Wealth and the Good Life

Buy your book, which Morgan Housel calls a “masterpiece.” It features 50 timeless ideas—from Lord Krishna to Charlie Munger, Socrates to Warren Buffett, and Steve Jobs to Naval Ravikant—as they apply to our lives today. Click here to buy now with a special discount (only available until tonight, October 31, 2023).

Leave a Comment