Here is a nice little story I read recently.
One day, a timid young swordsman sought the counsel of an older, battled-hardened warrior.
“Sir, the men say that, of all the King’s warriors, you are the most courageous.”
The old warrior, who was busy sharpening his sword and who spoke only when necessary, didn’t lift his head or utter a single word. He was not impressed by flattery, so he continued to sharpen his blade; the blade that had seen him through many battles.
Listening and sharpening. Listening and sharpening.
Before long, the young warrior felt uneasy…and fearful.
For a minute, words escaped him but all the while, he stared at the enormous sword in the scarred hands of its owner. Powerful hands that seemed to be covered in leather. Hands that had fought for more years than the boy had lived.
In that moment, he felt overwhelmingly inadequate.
To his credit, he continued, “Sir, I just want to know, aren’t you ever afraid…going into battle, I mean?”
The old warrior slowly lifted his head, placed his sword across his knees and fixed his gaze upon the boy soldier.
The young warrior was shocked. He had not anticipated such an answer.
“But Sir, how can you be both courageous and scared.”
“Son, without fear there can be no courage.”
And with that, the lesson was over.
Am I a warrior or a worrier?
As an investor, I live this lesson each and every day…
…always wondering whether I’m a worrier who fears the imposing challenge of attaining my financial freedom…
…or a warrior bravely facing this challenge.
But this story has taken me to another paradigm altogether.
As the old warrior says, “Without fear there can be no courage.”
So if I need to become a warrior of an investor, being a worrier can indeed be rewarding.
It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of fear…especially the fear of failure…and then doing the hard work of actively (and mentally) working against this fear.
However, the wonderful thing about fear is that it’s entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.
So we can choose to see fear as a proof of just how inadequate we are to cope with it (by simply worrying about the outcome).
On the other hand, we can look at fear as the incredible experience that leads us to fight it tooth and nail in the pursuit of our goals (by becoming a warrior against it).
There’s no doubt that most of us will stumble and fall in life. This is more so when we are playing the investing game, with all its cliffs and gorges.
Doors will get slammed in our faces, and we might make some bad decisions. But think of the opportunities you’ll miss if you let your fears stop you.
I’m sure our old warrior (old simply for the experience he has as an investor), Mr. R K Chandrashekar, who’s been investing for the last 30+ years, will vouch for the fact that you can succeed as an investor only if you can get over your fear – especially your fear of failure – and keep moving ahead in your financial life, come what may.
I mean, since 1978, the Indian economy and stock markets have faced innumerable fear situations. But then to remain an investor – and do very well at that – is a big deal.
You see, it’s very often that we get the most valuable insights in our life only after we overcome a fear. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life…and as an investor.
I wrote a post in May on why you must start worrying about your finances. My reasoning was that – and I had quoted a research done by a Yale University economics professor – financial angst (especially, the threat of losing money) is one of the most effective motivators for people to get on track in their financial lives.
In other words, some anxiety about whether you are heading in the right direction with respect to your personal finances can serve as a great motivator for you to try and get (or remain) on the right track to financial freedom.
It is this fear, this anxiety, that helped me grow my savings by 9,200% during the period 2003 and 2011, which helped me in paying off my home loan, and which helped me quit my job to start work on my passion that is now in front of you.
The questions I’ve asked myself regularly over these years are:
- What would happen if an emergency were to take place and I am not prepared financially to meet it?
- What if I don’t have enough money to fund my retirement 20 years down the line?
- What if something happens to me while I don’t have a term insurance cover? Who will take care of my parents, wife, and children?
- What if the companies whose stocks I’m looking to buy turn bankrupt?
- What if my investment returns are not able to beat inflation over the next 20 years, when I would need money for my child’s marriage and my retirement?
You’ll agree these are some worrisome questions to answer for every investor. You or I are no different.
But then, answering these questions and then working towards practically implementing the answers is what I believe has made me a warrior.
Anyways, here is something I recently read on Facebook, which assimilates in beautiful words, the entire thought about overcoming our fears and worries, and facing life as a warrior…
When nothing else works, then motivate yourself to take action by vividly visualizing yourself dead with all your dreams and aspirations unattempted, half attempted or incomplete. If this doesn’t stir you into action, perhaps nothing will.
This motivates the constant “worrier” within me to remain a “warrior” and face the biggest battle of my life – my financial freedom – with courage.
What about you? As an investor, are you are a worrier, or are you also a warrior, and how? Let me know in the Comments section below.