Archive for July, 2009

Patty Cake Tennis, Anyone? (The Financial Athlete #131)

July 25, 2009

How to play Patty Cake Tennis: Hit the ball to keep it in play. The objective is to maximize hits back and forth without the ball being obstructed by the net or landing outside the boundary lines or double bouncing. Dads like to play this game with the kids. It is sure to come with loads of frolic and giggles small kids learn how to hit on the center of strings — “the sweet spot”.

Caution: Patty cake tennis can be detrimental to your kids’ game once they can consistently hit on the center of strings. The ball is hit too safely with a flat stroke toward the center of court to minimize errors. In competitive tennis, these strokes are easy feeds for aggressive returns and pinpointed placement returns. Therefore, hitting the ball back and forth 500 times without errors ill prepares you against anyone with decent racket skills. Even worse, patty cake tennis encourages the behavior to, above all, avoid mistakes. Without mistakes obtaining mastery is an illusory hope. One can only improve by making mistakes.

Be willing to make mistakes. Learn from them, your own and the mistakes of others, to achieve mastery. Fearing mistakes stifles progress. The greatest of all mistakes is the fear of making one.

A full life is not made of all ups and no downs
It is experienced in cycles of ups and downs

A full life is lived with an open heart and open mind

A rich man cannot afford a full life
A poor man cannot offer it for sell

A full life is lived free of the weight of fear
free of the weight of contempt
and free of the weight of time

— Ao (pastamanvibration)

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Principles of Joseph Pilates (The Financial Athlete #130)

July 22, 2009

“Think with your whole body.” — Taisen Deshimaru

Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) founded the Pilates method of exercise. Ironically, many “Pilates” exercises performed today were not actually practiced by Joe Pilates. These exercises fall under the evolved Pilates repertoire of exercises because they abide by Joe’s 6 Principles of Control, Concentration, Precision, Centering, Breathing, and Flow of Movement. Furthermore, these exercises are in harmony with principles of biomechanics and kinesiology, fields of study not widely developed during Joe Pilates lifetime.

5 of Joe Pilates 6 Principles will sharpen your investing skills.

Control

The music blasts to a hardcore aerobics plus weight lifting class. A barbell hangs on the shoulders for squats and shifts overhead for tricep extensions then to the front of the torso for bicep curls and rows. This hurried superset quickly gets the heart pumping faster with an adrenalin rush. All the while, the body rocks and rolls to the beat of the music. “Weightlifting in a gym or at home is too boring. This is the only way I can get motivated to work out with weights,” says an enthusiast participant. So what’s the problem with this form of exercise? Lack of control. Lost in the up tempo music, a participant drops down into a squat too quickly and bounces and/or twists out of the bottom position. This squeezes and twists the knee cartilage (menisci), which eventually causes damage. For good form, always maintain control. It is too easy to lose control with flighty exercises.

The Pilates solution for control begins with a conscious rhythm of the breath and carries on with a conscious movement of the core muscles coordinated with the breath.

As for investing, do no more than rush into an investment to lose control. Investors maintain control by thinking through a prospective investment with an open and skeptical mind. A simple tool to enforce self-control is to list objectively its Pro’s and Con’s. Weigh greater importance for the first items listed to evaluate, such as Expected Return of Investment for real estate. If the Con’s outweigh the Pro’s for the most essential aspects of an investment, pass on the investment opportunity. Do not waste time with deeper analysis.

For more on control, see “Play within your Level of Competence” #4

Concentration

To concentrate in Pilates is to unite the body and mind in the exercise. This approaches exercise holistically, as opposed to being too narrowly focused on one component of the body.

A common mistake for an investor of stocks is to become too narrowly focused on growth prospects or the Balance Sheet. This causes one-sidedness in perception. Recall the analogy of one blind man who only touches the trunk of an elephant, while another blind man only touches the elephant’s tail and yet another only touches the elephant’s ear. All three blind men wrongly perceive the true nature of the elephant and each in a completely different manner. For a holistic perception, concentrate on the all views: top, side, front, rear, and below.

For more on concentration, see “The Bird Dog beholds a Secret to Success” #73 and “Beyond the Bottom Line” #126 and “Triathlon” #115

Precision

Pay attention to details without losing sight of the big picture. Small details such as found in the fine print are very revealing. An eye for details requires constant study. Train your mind for this and it will manifest naturally.

For more on precision, see “Look Deeply” #131 and “Quality before Quantity” #88

Centering

By centering the movement initiates from the core…inward to outward.

How we invest manifests what is inside us. Cultivate perseverance and discipline from the core to accomplish incredible long-term results.

For more on centering, see “Move from the center” #95 and “Inner Core Strength” #117

Flowing Movement

Movement is never stiff or jerky or rushed. It flows like a gentle stream.

Investors should maintain liquidity for flowing movement. During recessions, the investors who benefit the most have the liquidity to buy discounted assets.

For more on flowing movement, see “Creating Space” #25 and “The Yin and Yang of Pitching” #22 and Beyond the Bottom Line #126
and “Be like Water” #7