My son Jared and I went to the airport this week to train in a device designed by the Air force to teach pilots how to recognize and deal with hypoxia, which is the sickness that occurs with oxygen deprivation. The altitudes at which I fly give the most beautiful views, but right outside that thin window pane is a world that is very hostile to human life. The air is generally about -35oC and only contains 7% oxygen. Breathing air with so little oxygen quickly leads to loss of brain function and eventual unconsciousness. The chamber taught us to recognize the onset of hypoxia so we could take action while our minds were still clear.
It was fun watching through the glass as other groups experienced the chamber. After just a couple of minutes, brilliant pilots would be unable to perform the simplest of tasks, yet all the while thinking they were doing great. In a cruel hoax of nature, a person with hypoxia loses the ability to reason, yet feels a sense of euphoria that all is well. Thus, depressurization can quickly lead to a very poor outcome if proper action is not taken.
When investing markets go through rapid changes, investors can sometimes suffer from a form of investing hypoxia. Tasks that were once easy and logical become more difficult under the pressure and strain. As if the air has been sucked out the room, a rapidly moving market can lead investors to make poor decisions they would never make when all is running smoothly.
The purpose of the chamber was to teach that at the very first sign of hypoxia, you are to put on your oxygen mask and take a few deep, but calm breaths. When your thinking is clear, you are then in a good position to deal with the situation. As it turns out, most events that cause a plane to depressurize do not threaten the safety of the flight. It is a pilot’s potential poor reaction that can create an emergency. Likewise, in investing, market volatility is rarely a problem in and of itself, but a panicked investor can turn it into a problem by making unwise decisions. In those situations, sitting back and taking a few deep breaths before proceeding is a good practice.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 1173 S. 250 W. Suite 505, St. George, UT 84770.
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