Even though I’ve seen the movie “A River Runs Through It” a handful of times, I’d never read the book. Then Stephen King recommended it to me.* I figured Stephen King would know good writing, so I checked out the Kindle version from the library.
The nice thing about Kindle is you know exactly how far along you are in a book. So 20% of the way into A River Runs Through It, I came across the following nugget:
“Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”
What a great insight, not only about fishing, but about life. As you might guess, there’s a financial angle, too. Swap “investors” for “fishermen” and these words of wisdom are on par with anything Warren Buffett or Ben Graham has shared.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” The same logic applies to investing. Yet, from a psychological standpoint, many people struggle to find the “right” time to invest.
On a weekly basis, an investor is bombarded with a litany of reasons to sell (if they’re in the market) or not to buy (if they’re on the sidelines). Far harder is to stay the course, to remain invested, to stick with the long-term plan. Many people don’t have the patience and discipline to do this regardless of what happens in the market. It’s too easy to get bucked off.
Investing success has more to do with clear thinking and avoiding temptation than knowing finance inside and out. As a result, having the right mindset is the most important skill an investor can have. And we all would be better investors if we spent less time waiting for the world to become perfect.
* – Stephen King recommended A River Runs Through It in his own book On Writing.