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 judgmental 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 like it’s math, where 2+2=4 for me and you and everyone – there’s one right answer. But I think it’s actually something closer to sports, where equally smart and talented people do things completely differently depending on what game they’re playing.
What you want might not be what I want.What’s fun to you might be miserable to me.
Your family’s different from mine. Your job’s different from mine. You have different life experiences than I do, different role models, different risk tolerances and goals and social ambitions, work-life balance targets, career incentives, on and on.
So of course we don’t always agree on what’s the best thing to do with our money. There’s no world in which we should.
And if we’re different people who want different things, the investing skills we need might be completely different. Information that’s relevant to you might be a waste of time to me.
But it’s rarely parsed that way.
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