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The Hardest Thing for Investors to Master

By Brian Withers and Brian Feroldi - Feb 10, 2021 at 6:50AM

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You might be surprised that it's not picking great stocks.

Achieving success in most endeavors requires significant effort to get the desired results. For investing, it's almost the opposite. Great investors such as Warren Buffet, spend most of their time just ignoring their portfolio. On the Fool Live episode recorded on Jan. 14, Motley Fool contributors Brian Withers and Brian Feroldi show how leaving your stocks alone can improve your investing returns.

Brian Withers: Which we'll talk about it in a little bit. Here it is. This is the sell something and move on to something else. You actually have to make two good decisions when you do that. You have to be right when you're selling and then be right again when you're buying.

So here's the last 10 years of what I've done. The blue bar is positions that I've bought, and the red bar is positions that I've sold. You can see that I'm a pretty active guy in investing. Even recently, I think this is almost all of 2020, so I think it corrected the behavior a little bit, but certainly, a lot of sells. My 10-year returns have been pretty stellar. I've been pretty happy with that.

My son, Zack, is the kind of guy to buy and forget. He's done very little selling. You can see his blue bars are significantly higher in proportion to the red items that these had. Not saying that this is the only differentiator, he's a good stock picker as well, but his returns are considerably better than mine.

He held Netflix (NFLX 0.58%), by the way. [laughs] It could be part of why he's got 757 -- yeah, he's got at least a 100-bagger position in Netflix, which is just outstanding.

It's really not only patience, but get comfortable. It's hard. It's so often we want to do things, and activity equals results, and that is absolutely not the case with investing. It's very much the opposite.

I know Warren Buffett talks about laziness bordering on sloth from what they do year in and year out with their portfolio. It's really just buy and hold. Here is just another example of where that's been beneficial.

Brian Feroldi: I'll slightly tweak that and say, find greatness, buy greatness, own greatness.

Withers: Own greatness.

Feroldi: If it's no longer greatness, then sell. [laughs]

Withers: There you go.

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