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With Winning in Mind - Lanny Bassham


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I think Peter Lynch was right when he said that "if you can 8 + 8 and come up with a number close to 16, then you know enough math to be a good investor."  He thought the stomach was a more important organ than the brain when it comes to investing.  I learned a lot from books like "Fearless Golf" which is written by a sports psychologist who works with the traders at Point 72. It turns out that extreme performance has the same attributes in every endeavor.  The author of Fearless Golf said that Steve Cohen has more in common with Tiger Woods or the best heart surgeon in the world than he has with traders who are in the top 10% of his own profession. 


This short book was written by someone who a Gold and Silver medal in competitive shooting at two Olympics in the 1970s and it's one of the first books to talk about the mental preparation, which is applicable to other endeavors like investing. His book has diagrams of 3 overlapping circle (the conscious mind, the subconscious mind and the self image) which have to be balanced in order to produce performance.  Competence affects confidence, so practice and having the skillset to move with 100% conviction is key to great performance.  You can't just psych yourself up for something because your subconscious and self image don't have the required memory of successful repetitions to pull it off.  


It has similarities to the paradox that Fearless Golf discusses.  You need to focus only on the task, not the outcome. If you think about anything else, like your getting a good score, then you won't make the shot and your score will be terrible. If you don't think about your score, your score will be great because you are only focusing on the task. Translated to investing, if you think about your P&L or your bonus, or your house payment then you won't be investing with the right mindset. With the right process -- given all my opportunities right now, what is the best use of my available cash-- the results take care of themselves. The thinking is the same in Annie Duke's book.  


It's interesting because in investing there is a lot of wisdom about looking at your failures to see where you went wrong.  This has a different take and when he's asked about a shot he missed, he only wants to discuss or think about the successes because he doesn't want to think about mistakes, since it's not what he should be focusing on. I'm not entirely convinced that's the best tactic, since you won't know what to work on if you don't look at mistakes.  I do vividly remember a seminar I took once with a famous jiu jitsu guy who I'm convinced was insane.  To say he was intense was an understatement. He accidentally choked out two people while demonstrating a technique and each time just slapped the person on the back and said "go get a drink of water and come back to the mat."  During the question and answer section someone asked if you should drill/practice your good and bad side or just your good side.  His face got red and a vein in his head bulged and he yelled "Hey!  Don't ever say that!  You don't have a good side and a bad side.  You have a good side and a GREAT side!  Don't ever let weakness creep in or it will rot you from the inside." 


Buffett said that when you see those no-brainer opportunities which rain down money, you should run out there with a giant bucket, not a thimble because they are rare. I think that's the confidence that comes from competence and 100% belief in yourself that he's talking about.  There is no self doubt because that isn't part of the process, it's just the numbers. 


He does socialize with other shooters, who are his competitors, but also his models.  Winners have the same mindset and help each other get better, which is why COBF is such an interesting place.  It's a short book, less than 200pp and a bit dated since it was written in the 1980s, but still interesting even if people have studied and advanced the field of performance psychology a lot since then. 


And if you're interested in some entertainment.  Here's proof that I am not exaggerating about the jiu jitsu guy 🤣



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