There are lots of smart people in the world, but true wisdom is a special thing. If not totally unique, it is certainly rare. I’m sure that in my late teens I thought I was both smart and wise. I didn’t necessarily go around telling people that, but I don’t doubt that I believed it to be true. It is quite possible that that was a demonstration to the contrary. The truth is that if we are fortunate enough to accumulate some wisdom on our journey through life, it comes to us through a careful study of life’s lessons – thoughtful and reflective observation of our environment and the things that happen in it.
I have always subscribed to the theory that people who don’t remember their history are doomed to repeat it. And while I still feel quite young, I am getting old enough to recognize this plays itself out over the course of several decades in my life. Cycles repeat themselves. Banks lend too much at times. Market bubbles rise and then, surprising to some, they pop. Markets go up and down but they don’t do either perpetually. There are events like corrections and crashes. And, when you’re in the middle of one or the other, it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between the two. There are any number of things that repeat themselves over the course of time, but the ability to discern events such as these help us to define the difference between intellect and wisdom. Lots of smart people rode the tech bubble up only to see it crash. No doubt that added to their accumulation of wisdom. There is no shame in making a mistake. In fact, Catherine Cook is reported to have said something to the effect that if you’re not making enough mistakes you’re not making enough decisions. Getting out of bed every day is risky business. Life is not a risk-free proposition. But, as one of my old mentors is fond of saying, “you have to have your oar in the water.” However, repeating a mistake…that is a horse of a different color. It is my belief that wisdom is what keeps us from repeating mistakes when cycles repeat themselves over the course of years.
Hard work and generosity is what built our AASV reserve fund and our AASV Foundation fund into tools that will serve our membership for generations to come. Wisdom is what has protected these resources and kept them growing. This summer, we met as an AASV Foundation Board of Directors and set some very ambitious and exciting goals. We have decided to fund swine research at a much more significant level. We have chosen to be aggressive in our financial support of education that leads to AASV members being boarded in animal welfare. We have maintained our commitment to continue to support veterinary students with an interest in swine medicine. All of this takes financial resources. Thus, the foundation board has set aggressive goals in regard to building the foundation’s funds and putting them to work. This requires careful and insightful stewardship by our investment committee. These folks have done a great job and we owe them a debt of gratitude.
It may surprise a few of you, but being AASV president takes a fair amount of time and doesn’t pay all that well. In fact, it doesn’t pay anything! (Must have been listed somewhere in the fine print). However, it does have redeeming qualities. One of the perks of being AASV president is that you get to spend a lot of time with people who are both wise and willing to share their wisdom. They are the kind of people you find on the investment oversight committee and on the AASV Foundation board. They are “been there, done that” people with a strong commitment to our association. They are strong leaders but lead with an attitude of service.
There is no proxy for hard work, but long gone are the days when hard work alone will seal one’s financial success. The individuals I’m referring to have worked both hard and smart and are successful to a person, both personally and financially. And yet they give of their time and themselves in unpaid volunteer roles, taking time away from their busy business and personal lives.
I would like to personally thank all the individuals who quietly serve our membership with volunteered time and leadership, providing valuable insight and direction, sustaining the sense of community within our association. They are both wise and smart. Incidentally, they also happen to be a lot of fun to be around.
Matt Anderson, DVM AASV President