Play Your Own Game

Michael Jordan said he had to reconstruct his body when he went from basketball to baseball back to basketball. Baseball favored strong arms and chest; basketball required a leaner figure with a stronger core and legs. Part of the reason Jordan’s basketball return was rusty was because he was still lugging around his baseball arms. “Looking back, I didn’t have enough time to get back to a basketball body,” he said.

Which makes sense. Different sports have different objectives requiring different skills. No one criticizes marathon runners for doing things completely differently from powerlifters, despite both being athletes. ESPN covers sports, yet no anchor pretends golf and mixed martial arts are remotely similar.

But when people use the common label “investors,” that same logic breaks down.

Someone recently asked how my investment views have changed in the last decade. I said I’m less judgemental about how other people invest than I used to be.

It’s so easy to lump everyone into a category called “investors” and view them as playing on the same field called “markets.”

But people play wildly different games.

If you view investing as a single game, then you think every deviation from that game’s rules, strategies, or skills is wrong. But most of the time you’re just a marathon runner yelling at a powerlifter. So much of what we consider investing debates and disagreements are actually just people playing different games unintentionally talking over each other.

A big problem in investing is that we treat it (Read more...)