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“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. ~ Charles Darwin
The thing that separates us humans from other animals is that we constantly change into new forms, new avatars. We are sad, we are happy, we are emotional, and we are angry. We communicate through different languages, we do different kinds of work, and we deal with different kind of people differently. Effectively, we keep on changing ourselves as per the demands of time and situation.
In fact, success in life depends largely on whether we are able to change ourselves with changing times.
If we are flexible and formless – like water – taking the form of whatever is around us, we gain power and succeed against those who rigidly hold on to their ground.
Despite this, when it comes to our ideas – especially when we have only one – we rigidly hold on to them.
This is very much like Henry Ford who supposedly said, “People can have the Model T in any colour – so long as it’s black.” This nearly ruined Ford Motors Company in the 1920s, because while Mr. Ford was in love with his idea of “only black Model T” cars, Americans were shifting to bigger, faster, fancier, and brightly painted automobiles.
Or very much like the old “me” who would often not change views on stocks even when the circumstances changed, and paid heavy prices.
I have seen other investors fall in love with their stocks in the garb of “buy and hold”. So they will hold on to bad businesses, and especially those who are going downhill. They will remain stuck in a status quo mode because they hate to admit they’ve lost money. They will even put a higher value on the stocks they already own than they would be willing to pay for the same things if they didn’t own them. All this because they’re too rigid to change their ideas, even when circumstances are shouting at them to do so!
If you have been through such a moment in your own life (or investing life), you would like to hear what Bruce Lee has to say –
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip or crash. Be water, my friend.”
Watch Bruce Lee say it in this video…
Problems arise all the time in life and in investing, and you can try to keep your rigid shape, smashing into the problems until you break. Or you can be like water and slip through the cracks.
Charlie Munger says, “The game of life is the game of everlasting learning. At least it is if you want to win.”
In fact, a few of life’s great pleasures are to keep learning, letting go of previously cherished ideas, and emptying your mind for new ideas to come in. Then you’re free to look for new ones.
Be formless. Be adaptable. Be open to new ideas. Like water.
It’s indeed a pleasure to be water, my friend.