Learning What Can’t Be Taught
Teaching is seen as the finest form of giving. Sharing what one knows is the noblest thing. Which is why we call teaching a noble vocation. Teaching helps us learn several subjects. Subjects have syllabi that can be taught to a method. Investing is not a subject. It is much more than that. Investing is more about behaviour. It is about handling emotions. How we react to the world around us can’t be taught to us. Nor can we be tutored to be detached from emotions while making financial decisions. Knowledge can be taught. But the application of knowledge is heavily dependent on behaviour. That is something which can’t be effectively taught. It needs to be learnt.
Let me reason this differently. The most brilliant thinkers on investing are often the poorest investors. I have seen the best of stock Ideator’ turning out to be the worst investors. The reason is simple. They are very knowledgeable. But, the manner in which they handle their knowledge is not delivering results to them. Behaviour is an issue that they simply fail to handle or do very ordinarily. Handling oneself determines how one handles his investment. Most investors fail to handle themselves in the way that leverages their knowledge. The markets constantly test this aspect more than it tests our knowledge on investing. We tend to trivialise this and ignore our own follies and fumbles.
Behaviour cannot be taught. And, I say this from experience. The best investors see proteges approach them to learn. The proteges mostly learn all the knowledge they can from their teachers. When the teacher tries to point out their mistakes related to behaviour, the student tends to move away. While an investment teacher manages to teach his subject knowledge effectively, the wisdom he gained on behaviour remains poorly utilised.
Learning to handle oneself is no less important than learning to handle money. We tend to make more mistakes simply because we fail to keep ourselves in check. We find it very difficult to accept our mistakes. We are mostly unwilling to learn from them or own up to them. Externalising our weaknesses is the most serious impediment to learning. To learn what can’t be taught, we need to prepare ourselves. Our minds must retain extraordinary humility. In every hour of success, we must remain composed. In failure, we must be introspective to find causes. We must stay focussed on learning what we need for the future. Past learning should learn to give mind space for future learning. Or else, we will end up thinking we know what we need to know.
While knowledge can be accumulated effectively from the best of teachers, learning needs a different mindset. In investing, learning transcends knowledge. It covers observation, curiosity, humility, patience, self-deprecation & appreciation.
These are traits that one chooses to own for life & cannot be taught. You will agree that they need to be learnt. In Investing, learning takes over and builds from the foundation laid by our knowledge. This is the essence of my learning.