You know, I used to think that being able to be more farsighted -- seeing and anticipating the future -- was strictly a good thing.
You could take someone who was predicting and planning for the world over one week timeframes, increase their predictive and planning ability to three weeks, and they'd be better off for it.
Now, I'm not so sure.
People who are very farsighted and can accurately plan what's happening in the world, evaluate how they fit into that, know themselves well, and build long-term plans and stick with them through the bad times -- these people do quite well.
This is Warren Buffet investing and doing finance, and indeed, seems to be how he ran his entire career and life from the beginning.
Warren Buffet-type thinking will almost always outgain short-term thinking over a 10 to 20 year period. Maybe not in any one year, but consistently over the long-run.
Yet, you can see people with very short-term focus and a bias for action sometimes do quite well. While their long-term management of resources is poor and they often wind up keeping little of their gains, nonetheless they do lots of interesting things and hone their craft.
All things being equal, you'd probably prefer to have that Warren Buffet type timeline of thinking than shorter-term, but is getting there really always pleasant?
Once you start accurately seeing mid-term results, and your skill isn't so high, it can be immensely discouraging. The man who identifies the day's work and does the day's work almost certainly outperforms the man who realizes, "My skill level here isn't good enough, and I will no doubt have to re-do this work repeatedly because it won't be good enough."
And the second guy might be right!
If he was thinking long-term -- over 10 years -- his thinking would have shifted entirely, and he could have worked confidently knowing he's on the right trajectory.
Yet, that mid-term farsight seems like it can paralyze individuals, lead to procrastination and runaround. If it's literally impossible to achieve what you want over the mid-term time horizon that you're currently seeing the world in, then you're in serious trouble.
The answer? Well, maybe it's to push through and see the world in longer terms, or maybe it's to cut off the thinking and go back to just living in blocks one day at a day.
It seems like the man who lives only the moment can work well in the present because he's not worried about the future. And the man who sees the world in the sweep of decades can work well, because he knows he'll wind up in a positive future in due time. It's the man who sees the future looming on the horizon that risks not working well in the moment.
I just got a good email from a friend about emotions and biochemistry. It got me thinking.
Envy and schadenfreude are common emotions. People like seeing their opponents fail.
Is it possible to get over that? Would it be desirable to get over that?
I think envy and schadenfreude and hatred are usually a detriment to people feeling them. This is obvious enough when you're playing a positive sum game - because Positive Sum Games Don't Require Natural Talent, and have a near infinite opportunity for success. Disciplines like inventing, engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, mathematics, and the natural sciences work hand in hand. Every win by an inventor opens lots of doors for engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, math, and science. And indeed, for other inventors.
A lot of people mistake positive sum games - like the economy at large - for a zero sum game. They think that if you get money, they'll get less money. Of course, it doesn't work like that, as our exponentially growing standard of living shows. Even if someone loses a local conflict (to gain market share in a new technology, for instance) they can still go on to invent and innovate in a new field.
During my second year at college, I thought that investing was easy. I read about options, paper traded for a few months, and then solicited my friends for investments. Many of them invested in my hedge fund - "The H Fund", which I started with a friend. In total we had $26k, which was quite a lot considering how young we were.
The fund survived for a few months, even being profitable for a short amount of time. In the end, though, we lost all of the money. Luckily I have awesome friends who understood the risk, and no one was mad. Still - I learned my lessons and stayed out of the stock market for years.
For some reason or another I started reading about Warren Buffet. For those that don't know, he is the second richest man in the US, with a worth of over 40 billion. What makes him exceptional is that he is the only person on the top 100 richest people list who made his money through investing.