Do you play golf? I do. And you know what? I think, no, I know that golf makes me a better investor.
I'm not just saying this willy-nilly, either. I've played the game pretty much all my life and even worked as a golf professional for seven years before I eventually landed here at Fool HQ. So I consider myself pretty knowledgeable in the game. And I am convinced that golf makes me, and can make you, a better investor. Let me explain.
Golf is not just a game. If you play, you know what I'm talking about. It is a veritable microcosm of life itself packed into 18 frustrating yet glorious holes. Take a tour around a golf course any fine day, and you very well may witness every emotion available to humans. But golf teaches discipline. It teaches patience. To get good at it, you have to practice and be persistent. See where I am going with this?
Always keeping score
There are many reasons to play golf. Some just want to get out of the house. Others use it as a backdrop to close the big deal. But no matter what, if you want to truly know how you play, you have to keep score. That is the only way you can know how you are progressing. Likewise, in investing it is worth the time to keep score.
When I first pondered investing in Titanium Metals
As it stands today, I must admit I don't own Titanium Metals stock anymore; I sold it awhile back. There was nothing that necessarily changed my mind about the quality of the business. But I was keeping score all along, and when it hit better than three-bagger status for me, I knew it was time to take some money off the table and allocate it to other ideas. Titanium Metals has been one of my most successful investments, and I know this because I am always keeping score.
It is really easy to hit a bad shot in golf. Ask anyone who plays the game. One second you can look like a genius and you have it all figured out; the next you are throwing fits and cursing like Yosemite Sam after getting schooled by Bugs Bunny. It is how you handle adversity that determines whether you sink or swim. Investing is very much the same thing. Ever invest in a dud? I have. It's no fun, that's for sure. But if you keep your chin up and learn from your mistakes, you can avoid those situations in the future.
Many moons ago I owned shares of Dell
But change is part of the game in investing. Situations can change quickly and you need to learn to adjust. And things happen that are simply out of our control. It's what you do next that shows your true mettle. Make the next shot -- and your next investment decision -- a good one. Then move on.
A game for a lifetime
At 37, I don't consider myself old. Then again, I guess I'm no spring chicken, either. But here's the thing: Whether you're talking golf or stocks, I still have my best years ahead of me. One of the greatest things about golf is you can pretty much do it until you just physically can't do it anymore. Investing is the same way. You can keep skin in the game until you're 6 feet under. Look at Berkshire Hathaway's own Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. The guys are 80 and 86 years old, respectively, and still tap dancing to work every day! And I know plenty of nonagenarians who are still playing 18 holes like their lives depended on it. I love the fact that I have a lifetime to practice getting better at investing (and golf), and so should you.
Get on the tee
Of course you don't have to play golf to be a great, or even good, investor. But I love drawing parallels in life. It helps me relate and understand the things that I enjoy and want to be great at. I may never be a great investor (or great golfer). Then again maybe I will. Who knows? But one thing is for sure. I am going to spend the rest of my life pursuing greatness in both of them, and loving every minute of it.
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Inside Value analyst Jason Moser owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Berkshire Hathaway and Titanium Metals are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.