So who’s the Donkey? Mr. Market? Or is he Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde?


So who’s the Donkey? Mr. Market? Or is he Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde?

Earlier this year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the strategy. Yes, we had a great party, (in January my message“we sang the blues, we liked the blues, but we didn’t have the blues”- remember?), and we danced the night away.

On a personal level, I wanted a more introspective way of taking stock of those 10 years of launching, nurturing & managing this strategy and as Spring is here, 10 days’ walking seemed most apt: one day for each year. While looking into this I discovered a great book: “Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes” by Robert Louis Stevenson, a book that is considered a pioneering classic of outdoor literature.  

Travels recounts Stevenson's 12-day, 250-kilometer hiking journey in 1878 through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Lozère & Cévennes mountains in south-central France. He often compared the terrain, with its barren rocky heather-filled hillsides, to parts of Scotland. The other principal character in his book is Modestine, a stubborn, manipulative donkey he could never quite master. The book is one of the earliest accounts to present hiking and camping outdoors as a recreational activity. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags, large and heavy enough to require a donkey to carry it.

The book is such a blast to read, funny & witty, and that is how I found my own 10 days’ walking journey. So 140 years after the book was written, I took advantage of the Easter break and the 4 consecutive days that Mr. Market was resting, to walk in Stevenson’s footprints. I laced up my hiking boots, packed the essential stuff in my rucksack, grabbed my poles and set off on this great outdoor adventure. But I dropped the idea of traveling alongside a “stubborn, manipulative donkey” – just too much of a reminder of the constant presence of Mr. Market. The Easter break is a BREAK, after all!

Anyway, I reached my destination of St-Jean-du-Gard, as planned and, even without the donkey, my journey turned out to be a metaphorical reflection of the strategy’s “all-weather 10-year journey” alongside Mr. Market.  In the 10 days, I experienced hail, snow, rain, cloudy skies, wind, fog and finally sunshine.  Back at work and out of curiosity with respect to donkeys and their behavior, Google gave me the following: 

“Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of self-preservation than exhibited by horses. Likely based on a stronger prey instinct and a weaker connection with humans, it is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. Once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable in work. Although formal studies of their behavior and cognition are rather limited, donkeys appear to be quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn”.

That’s seriously a very good description of what the past 10 years of interaction with Mr. Market have been like!  So, you may think the analogy of Travels a bit coincidental?  But wait! Robert Louis Stevenson? Wasn’t he the guy who not only wrote Treasure Island, but also the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of Robert Louis’ wisdom:

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”