I'm reading "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" and there's some absolute gold in the book. The author's attitude to what he's doing is broadly applicable to anyone in any probability-based endeavor that will sometimes fail and requires self-control to not go on tilt during -
It didn't take me long to realise that there was something wrong with my play, but I couldn't spot the exact trouble. There were times when my system worked beautifully, and then, all of a sudden, nothing but one swat after another. I was only twenty-two, remember; not that I was so stuck on myself that I didn't want to know just where I was at fault, but that at that age nobody knows much of anything.
The people in the office were very nice to me. I couldn't plunge as much as I wanted to because of the margin requirements, but old A.R. Fullerton and the rest of the firm were so kind to me that after six months of active trading I not only lost all I had brought and all that I had made there but I even owed the firm a few hundreds.
There I was, a mere kid, who had never before been away from home, flat broke; but I knew there wasn't anything wrong with me; only with my play. I don't know whether I make myself plain, but I never lose my temper over the stock market. I never argue with the tape. Getting sore at the market doesn't get you anywhere.
There's four points in that except that I really like -
1. "It didn't take me long to realise that there was something wrong with my play, but I couldn't spot the exact trouble." He's comfortable with uncertainty and knowing that he's ignorant, and yet, he's not sure why.
2. He calls it "play" - which wraps everything in the appropriate perspective and gravity.
3. "I knew there wasn't anything wrong with me; only with my play." He doesn't take it personally or let it affect his identity when he loses. The problem isn't him, it's his actions.
4. "I never argue with the tape. Getting sore at the market doesn't get you anywhere." He doesn't get emotional - he just adjusts and keeps moving forwards.
Hell of a read, too. Compelling narrative.
Reminiscences is highly recommended.
Got a long email from a reader with some great questions - he's a very impressive dude, but he has a hard time sticking with something for more than 1.5 to 3 years. If you have this trait as well, you might want to pay close attention to this post
And I have a real problem "falling in line" with the rest of society in a stable, consistent and "normal" life. I just feel like it's not me.
Yup, I know exactly how you feel. I've been in similar places. So have a lot of my friends. Some thoughts -
What I see as a recurring theme in my jump from job to job and industry to industry is my utter lack of real fulfillment. Don't get me wrong, I do have a temporary sense of fulfillment and meaning with the careers I have pursued, they just don't seem to last. Once I have focus on what it is that I want to do I am relentless in achieving it. For instance, after 3 years in the --- industry I have acquired the knowledge that many people don't achieve until 10, 12 or even 15 years in the industry. However, that life-cycle tends to be around 18-months, where I then become unfulfilled by the rate of learning and progress I am making. This ultimately leads to erratic behavior within the succeeding months and a feeling that I need to drop what I'm doing and move onto something else - whether that be a new job or a new career altogether.
Google the term "rage to master" - click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.
I already know that this post is going to get a lot of negative comments like the religion one. And that's because this "every vote counts" dogma that everyone loves so much shares a lot with religion. It's a belief that's held true without a single bit of compelling evidence, and it's a strong belief.
But before I get into that, let's talk about some other things.
First, Obama won and I'm happy about that. I don't think that he's a superhero like a lot of people do. When I look at his positions I disagree with most of them. I disagree with most of McCain's positions as well.