Let’s Quarantine Like Isaac Newton

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

You’re locked in, shut in and shut down — welcome to the quarantine club. And in this club, membership requirements basically consist of being an American during the age of COVID-19. So, what are you doing during this quarantine? Are you binge watching Netflix, lying around on the couch eating junk food and drinking more adult beverages than you should? Or, are you using this time to organize your life, read more books, spend more quality time with family and learn a new skill?


The truth for most of us is that we are doing a little bit of all of the above. Yet, what if we could really use this quarantine as a time to become great and to offer the world the best within us? What if there was an ultimate example of a person we all could aspire to that used his quarantine time to reinvent our understanding of the world?

What if we could quarantine like Isaac Newton?

The year was 1665. That also was the year that bubonic plague ravaged England, extinguishing an estimated 100,000 lives. It’s also the year that Isaac Newton, then just a 24-year-old student at Cambridge University, was forced to leave campus and enter quarantine at his childhood home in the English countryside.


That quarantine lasted more than a year, but what Newton accomplished during that period is considered one of the world’s greatest feats of human achievement. In fact, this period has been called “Annus Mirabilis,” or the “Year of Wonders.”

And just what were those wonders? (Warning, do not attempt to compare your accomplishments to these, as doing so will no doubt make you feel like a total slacker).

He invented the modern field of optics. Conducting experiments with prisms, Newton was able to demonstrate that white light was made up of component colors we see in a common rainbow. At the time, it was thought that a prism altered light’s color. But Newton showed light was made up of these component colors.


He identified the Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation. The genesis for these theories came from Newton’s attempt to answer the question, “How does the universe work?” Here is where Newton’s apple comes in, as he once recounted the story of watching an apple fall from the tree outside his window and wondering why it fell to the ground and why it didn’t ascend into the sky. This observation ultimately resulted in the theory of Universal Gravitation, i.e. everything in existence is attracted to everything else — and that this force ties the universe together.

He invented calculus. I know that many high school students hate him for doing so, but in addition to greatly furthering the field of optics and identifying the laws of motion and gravity, Newton also wrote several papers on mathematical theory on what was then called “fluxions.” Those papers later became the base of the field of mathematical study known as calculus.

Now, of course, I am not suggesting we can duplicate the magnitude of Newton’s achievements during our hopefully much shorter COVID-19 quarantine. Yet what I am suggesting is that we use our quarantine time to attempt to achieve what we haven’t been able to in the absence of our usual life distractions.

In my own case, I have used this time to focus my professional life on identifying the investable sectors, stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that I think will thrive during this pandemic, and also when the economy returns to “normal.” In my recreational life, I have been playing piano, composing music and writing songs more than I have at any time in recent years. There’s something soothing about creating art during this lockdown, so if you’ve ever been inclined toward developing your artistic side, I submit to you that now is a fantastic time to do so.

Finally, I understand that now is a time for sadness and for pain. This viral quarantine is something that no one really has a sense of how best to cope with, so we are all just winging it the best way we know how. Yet what we can do is what we should do, and that is to try to use this time to help ourselves be the very best humans we can be.


So, starting right now, think of ways you can unlock your potential. Think of ways you can enhance your flourishing, and by extension, ways that you can help the world to flourish along with you.

Be creative, be productive and be inspiring. Channel your inner Isaac Newton and focus your mind on achievement. Make your COVID-19 quarantine your very own year of wonder.


What Makes A Renaissance Man Tick?

At the risk of sounding embarrassingly self-serving, I’ll first let you know that many readers and listeners to my podcast have asked me how I came to be called “The Renaissance Man.”

Well, it’s a nickname that was given to me by my friends in college, and ever since then, the moniker has just stuck. But what is a Renaissance Man, how does one become a Renaissance Man and what is it that makes a Renaissance Man “tick”?


In the new episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast, the tables get turned, as I go from interviewer to interviewee, courtesy of my friends and “Position To Win” authors John Paul Mendocha and Gabe Bautista.

In this revealing interview, I talk about my educational and professional background, and how my experiences have shaped my approach to life. I also tell you why I love doing so many different things.

Most importantly, you’ll discover why the key to becoming a Renaissance Man is to focus on the ideas you love and then integrate those ideas into action. The combination of focus and integration is what allows one to celebrate those integrated ideas in action.

If you’ve ever wanted to find out what makes a Renaissance Man tick, then this special reprise interview from the “Position To Win” podcast is what you’ve been looking for.


Conrad’s Work Wisdom

“A man is a worker. If he is not that he is nothing.”

–Joseph Conrad

The country needs to get back to work. Not only because our economy needs to restart so that out-of-work Americans can earn a living again, but also because work, i.e. productive achievement, is a critical need for the human psyche. So, the sooner we can all get back to work, the sooner our national psyche can heal.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

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