The Importance of Physical Fitness 3 comments
(P.S: Sorry for any disturbances the advertisements above may have caused you)
There was this book by a successful unit trust manager (think he was from Templeton) that I read some time back detailing his investing experiences in the various Asian countries that he had stayed in. It was an interesting book but even more interestingly, what stuck to my mind was his habit of keeping himself fit no matter how busy he was. If he was familiar with the area, he would put on his shoes and pound the tracks; if he stayed at a hotel, he would head down to the gym daily and utilise the treadmill. His explanation was that only by keeping oneself physically fit could he also be mentally alert. And of course, the latter was a critical faculty for making clear-headed investing decisions.
How true that is. That is actually, I think, only one facet of it. I do find that after a good jog, my mind clears up tremendously and some buy/sell decisions that I have been putting off can be considered again in those moments; these often turned out to be effective decisions ultimately. But there is more to the pros of keeping fit than that.
I hone my mental discipline through my chosen keep-fit exercise routine of jogging. The hardest part of jogging is often the getting ready part: putting on the shoes and preparing to go out for the jog. It is important to stick to a routine, say jogging weekly, so that it becomes a habit. Similarly, if one has decided at the start to jog say, 2.4km, he should will himself to finish the course. That, again, is not easy; they say the most difficult part is at the penultimate lap when the finish still looks far but one has already expended considerable physical energy. I think this mental discipline is important for traders and investors alike; they should have the perseverance to maintain a routine of say, regular research on their stock holdings or to find new tools to improve their technique; the willingness to overcome their ego and cut loss when things don't go their way etc.
The other advantage to keeping fit is its effect on morale. Everyone knows about that rush of feel-good endorphins, or adrenaline, when one has just completed strenuous physical exercise. I exercise for those moments; the world seems a better place after the sweat is worked out, and problems become mitigated in my mind. I happen to also feel that retaining one's optimism is one of the most important qualities an investor can possess. Of course, not irrational or excessive exuberance, but a healthy optimism that the world will improve, and problems will be solved. Somebody told me that the market will be what the individual wants it to be: a casino for the contra/margin punter, a speculative investment for the trader, a long-term business for the Buffett-idolising investor. An optimistic investor will be able to summon up the risk-taking capacity to align his money with his beliefs; the pessimist will forever be intellectualising reasons why he should delay his purchase even when things look really good. I have already mentioned in an earlier blog about the market player needing to have some of the gambler's willingness to take risk and make that "leap of faith" sometimes in order to make good profits. When one keeps oneself fit and trim, he will naturally be at ease with the world around him.