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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Play Your Own Game – Safal Niveshak


A couple of announcements before I begin today’s post – 

1. Online Value Investing Workshop: Admission is now open for the June 2024 cohort of my online Value Investing workshop, which has already been taken by 1500+ students since I launched it two years ago. Here is what you get when you sign up for this workshop –

  • 30+ hours of pre-recorded lectures and Q&A videos
  • 60+ questions answered in the Q&A
  • Live Q&A session of 3 hours on Sunday, 16th June 2024 (7 PM IST Onwards)
  • One-year unrestricted access to the entire content
  • 7 readymade screens to filter high-quality stocks
  • Stock analysis spreadsheet (otherwise priced at ₹1999)

I am accepting 100 students for this cohort, and now have just 20 seats remaining. Click here to read the details of the workshop and sign up.

2. The Sketchbook of Wisdom: Special Discount until 15th June 2024: Buy your copy of the book Morgan Housel calls “a masterpiece.” It contains 50 timeless ideas – from Lord Krishna to Charlie Munger, Socrates to Warren Buffett, and Steve Jobs to Naval Ravikant – as they apply to our lives today. Click here to buy now at a special discount (available only till 15th June 2024).


Play Your Own Game

Warren Buffett asked this interesting question many years back – “How do you beat the world chess champion Bobby Fisher?”

The answer was – “You play him at any game, except chess.”

This answer may sound amusing, but it carries a deeper meaning, and which is that if you want to win at a game, it should be a game you are good at, and not someone else’s game or the game others want you to play. This is crucial in life, work, and investing.

Now you ask – what do you mean by “playing your own game”? Well, it’s about focusing on what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what aligns with your values and goals. It’s about not getting distracted by what others think you should be doing or the paths they think you should follow.

Let me break this down into three areas: life, work, and investing.

1. Play Your Own Game in Life

In our daily lives, we often feel pressured to conform to the expectations of the society. Whether it’s pursuing a certain career, living a certain lifestyle, or even following specific hobbies. But the thing is that you don’t have to fit into anyone else’s mold.

Imagine you love painting, or writing, but everyone around you values sports more. If you try to fit in by playing sports, you might end up feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Instead, if you focus on painting or writing, you’ll not only enjoy yourself more but also likely excel at it. When you play your own game in life, you’re true to yourself. You make decisions based on what makes you happy and fulfilled, not based on external pressures. This leads to a more satisfying and authentic life.

Let me now take a deeper dive into this. Playing your own game in life means understanding what truly matters to you. It’s about self-awareness and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about recognizing what brings you joy and what drains you.

One effective way to figure this out is through self-reflection. Just take some time to journal about what activities make you lose track of time, what accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what values are non-negotiable for you. This self-awareness forms the foundation of playing your own game.

Another important aspect is setting boundaries. When you’re clear about your own game, it’s easier to say no to things that don’t align with it. This might mean turning down social invitations that don’t interest you or not taking on tasks that you know will overwhelm you. Setting boundaries helps you conserve your energy for what truly matters. It’s not about being selfish; it’s about being smart with your time and energy.

And then, playing your own game in life also means surrounding yourself with people who support and respect your choices. So, seek out friends and mentors who encourage you to be your best self, who understand your goals, and who are there to cheer you on. These positive relationships will help you stay focused on your own game, providing the encouragement and feedback you need to stay on track.

2. Play Your Own Game at Work

The workplace is full of different paths and roles, and it’s easy to get caught up in what others think is prestigious or lucrative. But the honest truth is that success comes when you play to your strengths and passions.

Let’s say you’re in a job because it’s considered prestigious, or maybe you are earning a high income, but you don’t really enjoy it. You’re likely not going to put in the same level of effort and passion as someone who loves what they do. On the other hand, if you choose a career based on your interests and strengths, you’re more likely to excel and feel satisfied.

Playing your own game at work means choosing roles and projects that align with your skills and passions. It’s about finding that sweet spot where you’re both happy and productive.

Let me now delve deeper into how you can play your own game at work. The first step is understanding your unique strengths. What are the tasks that come naturally to you? What kind of problems do you enjoy solving? What skills do you excel at? You might consider taking a strengths assessment like Gallup’s CliftonStrengths or simply reflecting on your past experiences. Identify the moments when you felt most engaged and effective. Those will provide you clues to your natural talents and strengths.

And once you understand your strengths, look for ways to incorporate them into your current role. This might mean volunteering for projects that align with your skills or suggesting new initiatives that play to your strengths. It’s important to not be afraid to advocate for yourself. Speak to your senior or manager about your strengths and how you can contribute more effectively. Most employers appreciate proactive employees who want to maximize their impact.

Another important aspect of playing your own game at work is setting career goals that are meaningful to you. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing promotions or accolades that others value, but what do you really want? Think about where you want to be in five or ten years. What kind of work do you want to be doing? What skills do you want to develop? What kind of impact do you want to have? Use these personal goals to guide your career decisions. And remember, it’s okay if your goals don’t align with traditional career paths. Success looks different for everyone. For some, it’s climbing the corporate ladder; for others, it’s having a flexible schedule or working on passion projects. For you, it’s very important to define what success means to you and pursue it unapologetically.

3. Play Your Own Game in Investing

I am sure you are aware that the world of investing is full of noise – everyone has an opinion on what you should buy, when you should sell, and where you should put your money. But good investing is not about following the crowd; it is about having a strategy that suits you.

If you invest based on what others are doing without understanding your own risk tolerance and goals, you might end up making poor decisions.

Just to give you an example, if you’re someone who can’t handle high volatility, investing heavily in small cap or microcap stocks just because others are doing it can be disastrous. Instead, play your own game.

Develop a strategy that fits your financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Whether it’s long-term investments in stable companies, diversifying across different asset classes, or focusing on dividend-paying stocks, the key is to invest in a way that makes sense for you.

Let me help you explore this further. The first step in playing your own game in investing is understanding your financial goals. Are you investing for retirement, saving for a down payment on a house, or looking to build wealth over time? Your goals will determine your investment strategy. Once you have clear goals, assess your risk tolerance. How much risk are you comfortable taking? This can depend on various factors, including your age, financial situation, and personal preferences.

There are risk tolerance questionnaires available online that can help you determine your comfort level with risk. The next step is to diversify your investments to manage risk. Diversification involves spreading your investments across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and other such assets, to reduce the impact of any one investment performing poorly.

Remember, the goal of diversification is not to maximize returns but to minimize risk. By diversifying adequately, you can potentially achieve more stable returns over time.

Another key aspect is having a long-term perspective. Investing is not about getting rich quick; it’s about building wealth over time. Stay focused on your long-term goals and avoid reacting to short-term market fluctuations. A long-term perspective helps you stay calm during market downturns and avoid making impulsive decisions that can hurt your portfolio.

Finally, educate yourself about investing. The more you know, the better decisions you can make. Read books, be open to learning from the wisdom of others who have had a long track record in investing, and maybe consider working with a good financial advisor if you need personalized guidance.

Remember that an educated investor is a confident investor. So, take the time to learn and understand the principles of investing, and you’ll be better equipped to play your own game.


Just Play Your Own Game

Playing your own game is about making choices that are true to who you are and what you want.

In life, it means following your passions and interests.

In work, it’s about leveraging your strengths and doing what you love.

In investing, it’s about having a strategy that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance.

Remember, it’s not about ignoring advice or insights from others but about filtering it through your own values and goals. Take control, stay focused, and play your own game.

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