I know you opened this post to read about two stock recommendations that can change your life in 2013. Right? 🙂
But sorry, this post isn’t about stock recommendations. It’s about recommendations that are much more important for your life and investing, as you’d soon find out.
But before that…
Whenever I take extended leaves from Safal Niveshak, I get a few emails from tribesmen who are seemingly worried about my whereabouts (maybe they try to ensure that I keep off for a few more days). 🙂
It wasn’t different this time as well, as I took a break starting Christmas. Now if you are wondering where I have been and what I’ve been doing all these days, here’s the short story.
I’ve been on a tour of “extremely cold and foggy” North India, including a long stay in the land of Lord Shiva, Varanasi. Those who know a bit about me also know that I take such “religious trips” a few times every year.
My idea for these trips is not to spend time in temples pleading God to grant me a great life (life’s great already!).
The idea is to explore some peace away from the hullabaloo of a big city life and get some time to explore the inner self and read books in solitude.
The trip to Varanasi was thus a great retreat as I got a chance to sit quietly on the banks of the holy Ganges and read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.
I picked up this book after I read a post on Steve Jobs’ reading list, which mentioned that this was the only book Jobs had downloaded on his iPad 2…and had first read as a teenager, then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since.
If I were to describe this book in one sentence, it would read – “This book explains the subtle but definite laws behind both the ordinary events of our everyday life and the extraordinary events we commonly term as ‘miracles’.”
One specific excerpt from the book that I liked relates to the life of Mirabai, a medieval Rajputani princess who abandoned her court life to seek the company of sadhus.
One great-sannyasi refused to receive her because she was a woman; her reply brought him humbly to her feet.
“Tell the master,” she had said, “that I did not know there was any Male in the universe save God; are we all not females before Him?” (A scriptural conception of the Lord as the only Positive Creative Principle, His creation being naught but a passive maya.)
Mirabai composed many ecstatic songs which are still treasured in India; I translate one of them here:
“If by bathing daily God could be realized
Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;
If by eating roots and fruits He could be known
Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;
If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him
I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;
If bowing before stone images unveiled Him
A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;
If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed
Many calves and children would know Him;
If abandoning one’s wife would summon God
Would not thousands be eunuchs?
Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One
The only indispensable is Love.”
Even in the book’s final chapter, Paramahansa Yogananda writes…
God is Love; His plan for creation can be rooted only in love. Does not that simple thought, rather than erudite reasonings, offer solace to the human heart?
The core message that Mirabai and Paramhansa Yogananda share through their simple words is that all we need to do to find God in our lives is to find love.
Nothing but love will get you to closer to the Almighty. Not temple visits, or idol worship, or following those self-proclaimed gurus with massive followings…a clean heart with love for others will see you through God’s path.
This is such a simple, but powerful idea.
But like all simple ideas, most of us will junk this.
Like in Varanasi, I saw some relatives paying the priests thousands of rupees in return of the latter’s prayers for peace and wealth in their lives. But these very people chided me when I asked them why they don’t spend an equal amount of money to buy and distribute blankets to the poor lining up outside the temples!
I see this kind of irony in all aspects of life.
People would spend lacs of rupees to provide formal education to their children. But they would not have time to teach their kids the free and simple lessons in living a life of love, compassion and integrity.
In investing, people would pay thousands of rupees to buy biased and dishonest stock advice but will rarely use their own free thinking to select quality stocks.
I can go on and on with these thoughts that disturb my mind day in and day out, and most possibly yours’. But that’s not important here. What’s important is that we spend our time thinking, loving, caring and giving…for that would give us the maximum happiness.
Anyways, I would suggest you read “Autobiography of a Yogi” for I believe it would change your life for the better.
I don’t believe middlemen like priests and gurus can help you in any way in your pursuit of spirituality (a majority of these priests and gurus are running a scam industry anyways).
But Yogananda and his ideas are on an altogether different plane, and you’d realize this only after reading this amazing book.
From love…to luck and skill
Another book I picked up recently is the one I saw lying on the desk of Warren Buffett via a clip on CNN Money.
It’s Michael Mauboussin’s The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing
The core idea of this book is that we have to understand the relative roles that skill and luck play if we are to make sound decisions, whether in business, sports, or investing.
Sometimes the distinction between the roles of luck and skill are obvious.
If I buy a lottery ticket and get the first prize, it’s purely out of luck. But if I take on Usain Bolt in a 100-metre race, I am guaranteed to lose in the most humiliating way because of the huge gap in skill.
However, most of the time, skill and luck combine to contribute to a given outcome, like in investing.
If you don’t recognize this or fool yourself into thinking that simply by learning how to invest like legendary investors (earning the skill), you can achieve great success, you will make huge mistakes of commission that will lead you to heartbreaks.
The truth is that trying to succeed in investing requires more than little amount of skill and luck.
A very interesting and important aspect Mauboussin stresses upon is…
…in activities where luck plays a strong role, the focus must be on process. Where skill dominates, performance is a dependable barometer of progress. But where luck is a stronger force, the link between process and outcome is broken. A good process can lead to a bad outcome some percentage of the time, and a bad process can lead to a good outcome. Since a good process offers the highest probability of a good outcome over time, the emphasis has to be on process.
The importance of “process” over “outcome” is what I’ve been stressing for long on Safal Niveshak. Whether it is the checklists that I use in my company research reports or ideas I share through my reviews of lessons from Warren Buffett, the stress is always on the process.
Overall, The Success Equation is an amazing book on the role of skill and luck in your life. I’m sure you will definitely find something in this book that either you hadn’t thought about before, or that you thought about incorrectly (like I did).
My 3rd recommendation
If you haven’t done it already, make 2013 as the start of a lifelong journey in reading and learning. Yes, that’s my third recommendation for you.
Make what Benjamin Franklin said as your guiding star this year – “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Autobiography of a Yogi and Success Equation are two great books you can start with (you can call these my “hot tips for 2013).
Another book I’m looking to pick up soon is Carol Loomis’ Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book.
I’ve heard rave reviews of this book, and will share with you my learns as soon as I read it. Till then, I suggest you grab the above two books and start your 2013 learning on a great note.
Let the tribe also know your book recommendation(s) for 2013 in the Comments section below.
Note: Seats for the Kolkata Workshop are filling up fast. If you are in Kolkata on 16th February 2013 and want to attend my Art of Investing Workshop, kindly click here to register.