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The Right Kind of Investing Education

Warren Buffett’s formula for becoming smarter in life and investing is simple – “Read. A lot.”

“I just sit in my office and read all day,” he is often quoted to have said this.

I have seen a lot of investors, including myself, take this advice seriously. Though I don’t read all day, reading books – and a lot of them – seems a great way to build my learning.

My bond with books has grown so stronger over the years that now, just holding a book in my hands makes me feels smarter. 🙂

I don’t have a name for this bias, but our mind plays this funny trick with us often. Just after we buy a book, or pay for an education, we “feel” we have learned what lies inside it.

That is probably the reason most people I meet in my investing workshops want to get my recommendation for the best investing books to buy. We all feel smarter just by owning these books.

But the question is – Can you really become a smarter investor just by reading all these books, blogs, and other resources out there?

Is there something else you need more to become educated and smarter as an investor?

J. Krishnamurti, one of the greatest teachers India has produced, writes this in his landmark book, Education and the Significance of Life

The ignorant man is not the unlearned, but he who does not know himself, and the learned man is stupid when he relies on books, on knowledge and on authority to give him understanding.

Understanding comes only through self-knowledge, which is awareness of one’s total psychological process.

Thus education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each one of us that the whole of existence is gathered. What we now call education is a matter of accumulating information and knowledge from books, which anyone can do who can read. Such education offers a subtle form of escape from ourselves and, like all escapes, it inevitably creates increasing misery.

As it comes out clear from Krishnamurti’s thoughts, and this is also what I have experienced myself, self-awareness or ‘knowledge about self’ is the best education one can ever get.

Mere gathering of facts and bookish knowledge can only lead us to chaos. That chaos is what causes most people to fail in their investing lives despite all the books they read and courses they attend.

While it is obviously necessary to read the wisdom and ideas contained in all those great investment books, they will only help us with the “techniques”.

And without understanding ourselves, those techniques would only lead us to frustration (maybe, an ‘intelligent’ frustration) and ultimately failure.

As Krishnamurti writes…

Self-knowledge is not a thing to be bought in books, nor is it the outcome of a long painful practice and discipline; but it is awareness, from moment to moment.

I believe the right kind of investing education comes with the transformation of ourselves, which entirely depends on our awareness about ourselves – our behaviour, risk-taking capacities, and habits.

When we are aware of ourselves, we are in a better position to behave well. And that can help us save ourselves from self-destruction that most other investors lead them to.

What do you say?

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Nice article.

    I too have bought books on investment, self-help, spirituality, motivational and so on. Right now, there are 4 books which are partly read. There’s a book that I’m hooked onto which *exactly* understands the issues, predicament, problems and behavior of the reader and mentions what NOT to do in THAT moment.

    As J. Krishnamurti focuses on Awareness about self-knowledge, I think this *Present moment awareness* is equally, not more important to absorb/ leave from the books.

    One more important aspect is “Belief”. Each one’s belief is different and is based on *their* experiences.
    To change our belief, WE need to EXPERIENCE that thing. For example, Taking loans on Credit Cards for Mobile/ Car/ Shoes is extremely expensive. We have read it in books. But, still some of us give in and go for it. Unless we experience and understand the pros/cons of it, we can’t build our belief about something. Of course, some of us are wise/ strong enough to learn from other’s experiences.

    Thanks,
    Avadhut

  2. Thank you for teaching me lots of lessons on investment psychology and life. Happy Teachers day Vishal Sir .. Thank you.

  3. Vijayakumar says:

    As Swami Vivekananda says “Education is manifestation of perfection already in man” , you are showing me a way towards a good investment education.For me , you have taken a role of a teacher and so “Happy Teachers day”!!

  4. Good one Vishal.

    I agree, it is a complete paradigm shift..i.e. the process of being aware..or transforming oneself.

    thanks.

  5. Nice thought Vishal.. you have touched the fundamental principles..

  6. Hello Vishal,

    I think you have talked something completely different in this blog. Being self-aware….how does one really achieve it….I think we are getting into the area of spirituality and related concepts. Aren’t we?

    Regards,
    Tejas

  7. Hi Vishal,

    I am very fond of learning new things and agree that human beings endeavor to learn new and quench the thirst of their mind. At the same time their is a thirst of heart which is more subtle, but more powerful. Self Knowledge fulfills this thirst and makes us complete from within. I am feeling so blessed now just after doing meditation, so sharing my thoughts.

    Regards,
    Animesh

    PS: I can’t resist sharing these videos: Video 1, Video 2

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