Why would we ever think volatility – a statistic that contains components of both risk and return – should only be associated with risk? Recently, more and more professionals have caught on to this issue (see "A 401k Fiduciary Dilemma: The Risk of Using Volatility to Define Risk," FiduciaryNews.com, May 28, 2014) The problem with using volatility to define risk takes me back to my teenage years and my war with literary interpretation. Those who grew up in the era of anti-war literature and movies might recognize the significance of the metaphor revealed in this story.

Like many nerdy science types, I spent my high school days rebelling against English class. I despised reading anything but pure science (a youthful fault long overcome). The hatred of any and all works of fiction rose to such a level that in 10th grade I convinced a dozen or so of my classmates to simply refuse to read a novel and write a report on it. The teacher countered with a refusal of his own – he refused to give us a passing grade unless we completed the assignment. At least that was his initial response. Upon reflection, he decided to give us a choice: Either we read a novel and write a report on it, or we write our own novel.

The onus of writing an opus overwhelmed my peers, and they chose to merely report on someone else's work. I, on the other hand, possessed (and continue to possess) a head of such rock-headed stubbornness that I considered my teacher's directive not the false choice it was intended to be, but a command to write my own novel.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).