As many of you already know, I am an avid tennis player and play almost every day. I just returned from the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open, one of the premier tennis events in the world. I was able to see some of the best tennis players in the world compete. Sitting there, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between being a great tennis player and an investor.
DISCIPLINE – Both tennis and investing require discipline to be good. One must develop a plan based upon proven principals and stick to it, especially when it gets hard. I often use the saying “The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.”
• FUNDAMENTALS – Learning the basics and mastering them are what make great tennis players. The same is true of investors. Some of those fundamentals include diversific ation, having time work for you as opposed to against you, and buying when things are undervalued and selling when they are overvalued.
• STYLE – No one style always wins in tennis or investing. One must adapt to the environment and know when to be on offense versus defense. One must also have different styles of play depending upon the situation and your opponent.
• ATTITUDE – As the champion tennis player Justine Henin once said, “I’m not afraid of anyone, but sometimes I’m afraid of myself. The mental part is very important.” A great tennis player learns how to control their emotions and fights through fear and adversity. They focus on the things they can control. They play one point at a time and are focused on winning the match and will not let a point or game lost deter them from ultimate victory.
I was lucky to have been able to learn to play tennis at a young age. The game has taught me some basic life skills such as respect, responsibility, persistence and self-discipline. These skills continue to be important in my work ethic and almost everything I do in life. Most importantly, especially for investing, I’ve learned and continue to relearn how to respond to the things I can and can’t control.
I once heard Dr. Laura use a tennis analogy for continuing to make bad choices. It went like this: Once the ball leaves your racket, all you can do is prepare for what life hits back to you. Work on making every shot count, but if your swing is off move on! That ball’s coming back at you and giving you a chance to redeem yourself.
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