Beliefs shape us and as an active investor you must believe that your investment choices are better than just buying a market index ETF or (horror!) a fund managed by a man in a suit who claims to foretell the future.
My own (unprovable) belief is that there are opportunities every day for an investor willing to put some original thought into the effort. The key, I believe, is just to be looking. Maybe that's why I regularly find money on the street.
My last find - a couple of days ago - was a pound coin my wife had walked past. Most people won't bother to pick up a penny, even if they see it - but does that mean that they don't bother looking for the pounds?
By the way, my biggest find was a £20 note, crumpled up. I found a crumpled £5 note last month. But I also pick up the pennies - it makes me feel lucky, no matter how grubby or worthless the penny may be. Not lucky because I am a penny richer but that so many other people walked past it.
And it's not just coins on the street. I regularly seem to pick up bargains at the supermarket - just by looking for them. In fact, deliberately looking for them: discounts of 90% are not unknown, if you:
- a) do not have a rigid shopping list (heresy for the disciplined shopper)
- b) are not too fussy about 'sell by' dates and (sometimes) willing to try something unusual
The ancient Greek concept of Kairos appeals to me. It can be described as "a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved." Obviously, you need to be able to:
- a) recognise that an opportunity is being presented to you, and
- b) be able to assess its value
- c) take action, when justified
All this to describe how your basic 'mindset' will have a fundamental influence on your investment style. If - as I believe - opportunities are regularly put in front of you, what can you do to capitalise on these?
Perhaps a bit obviously: you need to learn to think for yourself - this means becoming a DIY Investor and choosing your own investment philosophy (rather than just believing in someone else's - even the one I describe on this blog). And then you need to keep you mind open to ideas, which can come from many directions. You may be surprised how much inspiration comes to you.
And you might start finding money on the street.
Thanks to Monevator's always-interesting Weekend Reading comment round-up and to Simple Living in Suffolk for introducing me to Kairos.
Update 28/5/13 - Since writing this I have continued to find money - in one case a £5 note. The moral is just to look: you may find mainly pennies but occasionally something a lot more! And this applies to investing, too.
I am not a financial adviser and the information provided does not constitute financial advice. You should always do your own research on top of what you learn here to ensure that it's right for your specific circumstances.