“Investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.” – Jason Zweig
Or as Benjamin Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor said, “The investor’s chief problem—and even his worst enemy—is likely to be himself.”
Even though this book is over 70 years old, it is still relevant. The advice to buy with a margin of safety is just as sound today as it was when Graham first introduced his “value investing” philosophy. Warren Buffet has called it, “By far the best book on investing ever written.” And the revised edition includes additions by Jason Zweig, who ties in the wisdom of Graham’s principles with a current perspective, making it even more beneficial for us today.
- Do something foolish
Buffet says, “What investors then need instead is an ability to both disregard mob fears or enthusiasms and to focus on a few simple fundamentals. A willingness to look unimaginative for a sustained period — or even to look foolish — is also essential.”
The emphasis here is on foolishness as a kind of humility or egolessness.
- Do something creative
“A remarkable aspect of Ben’s dominance of his professional field was that he achieved it without the narrowness of mental activity that concentrates all efforts on a single end,” Buffett says in Graham’s remembrance letter. “It was, rather, the incidental byproduct of an intellect whose breadth almost exceeded definition.”
This is what creativity is about. It is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed by anyone who intentionally commits to doing so.
- Do something generous
Buffett ended his tribute by saying, “Walter Lippmann spoke of men who plant trees that other men will sit under. Ben Graham was such a man.”
To do all these three things it is imperative to control yourself at your own game and to do the self work needed in order to succeed in all areas of life – financial success is seldom isolated.
Understanding yourself and what biases you have is crucial in this process. This starts with the exploration of, “what did money mean to you when growing up?”, touched on in our previous articles on The dangers of unchecked emotions and Becoming an impartial investor.
We at WellsFaber can help you recognise and understand your own behavioural biases and predispositions and avoid making investment decisions based entirely on those biases – and potentially becoming your own worst enemy.