Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PIRCH and Writing Our Life Stories

On a trip yesterday to Oakbrook Center, Margie and I came across PIRCH, a store featuring high end home appliances and furnishings.  As you can see from the above company "manifesto", this is not your usual retail outlet.  Even more than Apple stores, PIRCH has been designed as an interactive, inspirational shopping experience.  From the friendly cafe that features free coffee from espresso makers sold in the store to the Sanctuary room where you can actually shower in a beautifully designed environment, PIRCH engages consumers by creating memorable experiences, not by selling them products.  The philosophy is simple:  "Until you know what's possible, you don't know what you want."

As the company expands, it seeks people who are different from normal salespeople.  "Everyone’s first priority at PIRCH is to create joy for everyone we touch – customers, colleagues and partners," according to the company's site.  Not exactly your usual search process.

So what does all this have to do with psychology, trading, and markets?

Just this:  We may be the sum of our experiences, but not all experiences are created equal.  Alexander and French recognized that change processes can be accelerated by "corrective emotional experiences." We process most deeply that which we feel most deeply.  That is why special relationships keep special places in our hearts over the years.  We forget so much of daily minutiae, but a single deeply felt experience lasts a lifetime--and can influence us over a lifetime.  We are not the simple sum of our experiences; we're the weighted sum of our most powerful experiences.

If you examine the lives of successful people, you'll generally encounter stories of individuals who successfully generate positive experience via performance activity, often channeled through the early influence of mentors, coaches, and teammates.   

If you examine the lives of troubled people, you'll often find stories of trauma, violence, and terrifying experience.  Negative experience stands out--and influences behavior--every bit as much as positive experience.  Indeed, the most rapid form of learning is that created by traumatic stress:  a single experience of danger can shape thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for months and even years.

Most life experience is neither highly positive nor negative--and that's a good thing.  It would be exhausting to be dealing with constant inspiration, thrills, traumas, and frustrations.  

But what PIRCH realizes is that if you want to leave a mark, you have to make an impact.  And it has to be a distinctively positive impact.

That same principle suggests that, if you want to guide your own development--as a trader or as a human being--you have to make sure that you create more positive experiences--and more powerful positive experiences--than negative ones.  "Above all else, do no harm" is good Hippocratic wisdom, but to imprint the soul eventually we have to do good.  Distinctive, powerful good.

A valuable self-assessment might begin with a few questions:  In any given week or month, which of your experiences truly count?  Which will remain with you next week, next month, and next year?  And which count in a truly positive way, in a way that concretely makes you a better person?  

In writing your life story, make sure it makes for good reading.

Further Reading:  Mirroring and Corrective Experience