I heard a sermon last weekend based on the concept of sacred fear, explained through the analogy of standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon as a simultaneously beautiful and terrifying experience.
On the one hand, you are filled with a sense of the sublime in tandem with a rare perspective of your insignificance in the greater world.
At the same time, one wrong step and you are dead. The need for sure footing and the confidence to balance on a ledge are critical. Self-knowledge is paramount.
While the speaker had more profound questions in mind, sitting in the pews, listening carefully, I reached the conclusion that risk tolerance in investing is a related concept.
No five minute Vanguard survey can adequately assess one's taste for risk.
No statement of bravura about going 100% equities can simulate the nausea of seeing your portfolio drop 50% overnight.
No amount of insisting your hypertrophied genitalia will help you stay the course through a Great Recession can predict your actual response under pressure.
No rule of thumb about age in bonds can incorporate your family money blueprint, that time your dad bet everything on red and the wheel stopped on black and you lost the house.
Sometimes, pursuing DIY finance, you unexpectedly find religion.