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Tennis is one of my favourite sports simply for the individual brilliance, fearlessness, and electric atmosphere that is on display. Plus, as a tennis player, you have to take the entire onus upon yourself whether you win or lose, which I kind of like.
I was once a huge fan of John McEnroe, then shifted camp to Pete Sampras, and then Roger Federer. These have been among the most fearless players in the history of the game (at least since I’ve been watching it). My favourite for the past few years has been Novak Djokovic, considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
I simply love watching Djokovic take his strides while serving or returning serves, which he does so gracefully and so well. Every time he plays (winning or losing is a different matter), he displays a super-human level of strength, athleticism and endurance.
My liking for Djokovic started in 2008, and the thing I liked best about him was his momentary “wait” before returning a serve. Ever since, I’ve always seen him with a typical, indifferent expression highlighted by focused, peaceful face and bright, unfazed eyes, seemingly trying to clear the mind of any thoughts that might take his eyes off the ball that usually comes towards him at a speed of 120+ miles per hour.
That wait, that pause before the split second decision is what has made me believe that Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players I’ve had the privilege of watching … ever since I was able to differentiate tennis from badminton! And it is this wait that has led him to be widely considered one of the greatest returners in the history of tennis, an accolade given to him even by Andre Agassi, who was considered to be the best returner ever.
Anyways, while I’ve really loved Djokovic’s “waiting” game, my mind never went on to a simple yet profound lesson this “wait” had for investors.
It was an article titled Waiting Game I read in Financial Times a few years back – and one I came across in my file again recently – that brought me to this lesson – what we as investors can learn from Djokovic’s “waiting” game, and how this can help us move a great notch above those who don’t appreciate the art of waiting, and are instead busy running a race against time.
Here is what the author of this article Frank Partnoy wrote about Djokovic –
His advantage over other professionals isn’t his agility or stamina or even his sense of humour. Instead, as scientists who study superfast athletes have found, the key to Djokovic’s success is his ability to wait just a few milliseconds longer than his opponents before hitting the ball. That tiny delay is why most players don’t have a chance against him. Djokovic wins because he can procrastinate – at the speed of light.
Procrastinating, delaying, or pausing before an investment decision usually results in a wise decision, as this gives you a chance to reflect upon what your gut is telling you. And your gut, in most cases, will give you a better indication than your brain on whether the decision will turn out great or dud.
Here is an amazing lesson you will read in this article, but I’m pasting it below because I think this contains the essence of what you will read over the next five minutes…
Life might be a race against time but it is enriched when we rise above our instincts and stop the clock to process and understand what we are doing and why. A wise decision requires reflection, and reflection requires a pause.
Here is another lesson –
If we are limited to just one word of wisdom about decision-making for children born a hundred years from now, people who will have all our advantages and limitations as human beings but will need to navigate an unimaginably faster-paced world than the one we confront now, there is no doubt what that word should be.
Anyways, here are the best things I read and thought about today –
- Sold into the March Collapse? Here’s What to Do Now (Barry Ritholtz)
- Same As It Ever Was (Morgan Housel)
- Why So Many People Are Getting into the Stock Market (Of Dollars and Data)
- Thought for today – I have a saying: There are no brave old people in finance. Because if you’re brave, you mostly get destroyed in your 30s and 40s. If you make it to your 50s and 60s and you’re still prospering, you have a very good sense of how to avoid problems and when to be conservative or aggressive with your investments. ~ Steve Schwarzman
That’s about it from me for today.
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tejas aptel says
such a minute details about Djokovic and than to relate with investing, that’s just eye-opener, once aging excellent writeup
Praveen Gorthy says
Been a long time reader and admirer of your work. I am also once Federer fan converted into Djokovic fan about 8-9yrs ago.
Apart from your great observations, one other thing I learn from him is “Power of Habits & Compounding” – Which happens to be a theme in your blog.
He seems to keep doing same things, hitting same shot to the same ball no matter how many times opponent returns. Doesn’t go for flamboyance or flair.
Even in games he wins against Fed/Nadal it seems like most focus in on opponent rather than him.
Tony Vlachakis says
Successful investing is a waiting game!
Ashima Handa says
Investing in art may be a great idea if it’s something you truly love. But it can be risky, so you need to do your research