I'll tell you a story. You tell me what you think.
It's about a young man who "gambled" a fortune and lost -- and in so doing learned a valuable lesson. Naturally, there's a twist.
But is it true?
I'm not sure. It was first told by Napoleon Hill, a friend of Andrew Carnegie, in his book Think & Grow Rich and has been passed down for 71 years.
I think you'll find it offers some perspective in this wacky market -- plus, the six words you don't want to say. Listen closely, and you may discover a "million-dollar" takeaway.
In the gold-rush days ...
A young man and his uncle went west. The going was hard, but eventually they hit paydirt. Quietly, they covered up their find, retraced their steps, and told a few friends and neighbors of the strike.
Then, they borrowed money to buy gear, had it shipped, and followed it west -- to one of the richest "finds" in Colorado. Just a few carloads' worth of ore would clear their debts. Then would come the big killing in profits.
Down went the drills! Up went their hopes! Then something happened! The vein of gold ore disappeared! ... They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again, all to no avail.
Given the dour news on the global economy and the way the market has been pummeled the past few months, you probably feel their pain.
And we do, too
After all, there was a time when everything we touched turned to gold. In April 2002, when I helped David and Tom Gardner launch their Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service, you could have plucked a ticker at random and made serious money over the next few years.
Then, suddenly, the mine ran dry.
From October 2007 to October 2008, the market coughed up more than 45%. And that's peanuts compared with the pain inflicted on folks who got caught holding Merrill Lynch
It would be easy to give up
After all, that's what our heroes did when their vein of gold ore dried up. They quit -- sold their tools to a junk man for a few hundred bucks and took the train back home. And that should have been it.
But the "junk man" had other ideas.
He hired an engineer to survey the abandoned mine. I'll spare you the technicals, but he calculated that the vein would pick up just three feet from where they had stopped drilling. That's exactly where he found it.
You can guess what happened next. The "junk man" took millions of dollars in ore from the abandoned mine.
"I stopped three feet from gold!"
Of course, those are the six words you don't want to say. And that's why, when I recently spoke with David and Tom Gardner, they weren't telling their Stock Advisor subscribers to sell. In fact, like many top money managers (Warren Buffett and Martin Whitman among them), they're shopping for bargains.
Earlier, I said that in April 2002, we could have picked a stock almost at random and made money. That's obvious, in hindsight. But for the first six months after David and Tom launched Stock Advisor, the market was down -- a full 30%. Those were tough times, I assure you, and I feel for those who threw in the towel.
Just call us "junk men"
What we need right now is help surveying the gold mine that skittish investors abandoned. That's how I look at David and Tom Gardner. Like the engineer in our story, they have a proven methodology, the proper tools, and years of experience on their side -- and they're digging in the right place.
Honestly, do you really want to risk saying, "I quit three feet from gold?" I know I don't. Especially when you can try Stock Advisor free for 30 days. You get David and Tom's latest picks, including their top five stocks to buy right now. You can even read their back issues online and confirm that what I've told you is true. If you don't like it, you don't pay a cent.
As a rule, I don't try to call market tops or bottoms. But I have a feeling that patient, long-term investors will look back warmly on this market -- very warmly. We always do. To find out more about your special offer to try Stock Advisor free, click here now.
Paul Elliott doesn't own any shares mentioned here. Starbucks and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Adviso rrecommendations. Akamai is a Rule Breakers recommendation. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks, which is also an Inside Value selection. You can see all of David and Tom's Stock Advisor picks instantly with your free trial. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that prefers Assateague to the Hamptons.