The art of thinking clearly

Reading The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions was eye-opening for me in a lot of ways. I realised that it is absurd to try to rid myself of all kinds of emotions and impulses when making decisions. It is impossible to do that therefore chasing this obsession is futile. Emotion will always be the dominant part of my character. The best I can do is study stoicism.

I felt reprimanded after reading the first chapter. When I started investing, I had high hopes that my success rate would be quick and easy. That I was smart enough to succeed in this world. My arrogance has been knocked down a few notches after being reminded that I have “overestimated the probability of my success”. It was hard to read about the “cemetery”.  A place where failed investors who are just as hard-working and as ambitious as I am may end up regardless of how dedicated they may be.

The book is not as cynical as the previous paragraph makes it seem. It serves as a reminder to appreciate the successes that I have and to always remember that I have come far compared to how I was in the past. He calls to my attention the fact that the more successful people get, the more dissatisfied they are with what they have. As we succeed in life, we tend to compare ourselves to people who may be light years ahead of us and forget far we have come to achieve all that we have.

Additionally, I learned a lot about the human flaws and how we can live with them by just being aware that they exist. I have to have awareness that I am biased and fallible. I have to accept the fact that I am shaped by a lot of things out of my control, evolution, the way I grew up etc. It prompted me to borrow Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovik and Amos Tvesrky’s Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases from the university library because it sparked a new interest on human behaviour.

What I loved about this book is that the author did not claim to have come to some conclusion on how we can better ourselves. I did not want to spoil this book so I barely scratched the  surface. There is more to learn. It is perfect for people who are obsessed with cognitive science too. Like I told my friends, this is not a self-help book!

 

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Fear of being classified

I have been reading a lot about different types of investors, value investors, growth investors, income investors etc. They all have their merits; however, I have this itch inside me that does not want to be compartmentalised, classified and put into a small box that I cannot break free from. Is there a word for this?

I want to be a bit of everything. A combination of two or more things. Or have a strategy for each goal I have. However, many people (and by people, I mean the authors of the articles I read) tell me that I have to master one or two things instead of being mediocre doing 10 things. That I have to stick to one strategy, master it and that this will result in success. They make a lot of sense; however, I have this urge to rebel against everything they say.

A colleague once told me I would lose interest in art and culture once I started working and focusing on my engineering career. I make it a point to go to my favourite philosophy section every time I go to a book store. Moreover, my interests outside of university are far removed from engineering. I feel the need to prove him wrong.

I’m not completely stupid in the fact that I will completely ignore the advice. This is the beauty of the internet. I do not need to pay for university to learn from the wisdom of the world. The downside of the internet is there are a lot of articles for and against the same subject. For instance, one article may be titled “Reasons to go gluten-free” and another article may be titled “Why gluten is not the enemy”. What or whom do I believe?

I just believe these should not be rigid. If a strategy does not work for me I am not going to stick to it. Besides, there is a chance that through trial and error, I will find a strategy that works for me. Lady Luck, please be on my side.