7investing guest writer Krzysztof Piekarski explains why patience is extremely valuable during periods of market volatility, and how investors can use it to make better decisions.
November 9, 2020
Wait, for now. Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they carried you everywhere, up to now?
~ Galway Kinnell
Of all the qualities of character that a true and successful investor needs to develop, patience is the one on which all others depend. That’s because no matter how much insight you have, or how much analytical prowess your brain whizzes on, if you don’t have patience, the market’s never-ending vicissitudes will eat you and your investments for lunch. The Fates are cruel and unforgiving to those who are easily swayed.
But what is patience and how do we get some?
The Chinese character for patience is a sword hovering right above a heart. How often in your investing experience have you felt fear and been scared out making a decision you intuited was correct? How often did you betray your inner wisdom? How often did you rush to cover your vulnerable heart?
Patience has a quality of meekness that hides its ferocity. As such, I prefer the term “forbearance” instead – because forbearance implies a capacity to “bear” difficulty. Or in our context, the “bearish” impulsivity of a grumpy, often irrational marketplace.
Forbearance therefore allows us to tolerate the most difficult aspects of investing. This includes:
The writer Katie Anthony says: “You cannot let your pain consume you. You know how much knowledge will motivate you to stay angry, and how much knowledge will horrify you into withdrawal. Get the right amount of knowledge. Then turn off the news. You can’t pour from a shattered cup.”
Dale Wright, a Buddhist scholar writes in his book about The Six Perfections: Buddhism and the Cultivation of Character:
“Ksanti [Patience] means “unaffected by,” “able to bear,” “able to withstand,” and in that dimension indicates a strength of character, a composure, and a constancy of purpose that allow an [awake being] to continue pursuing universal enlightenment in spite of enormous difficulty…[Woken beings] who have trained in this virtue are imperturbable and well-composed, calm and focused in the midst of adversity. Through deliberate self-cultivation, they build the capacity to withstand danger, suffering, and injustice, to resist the onslaught of negative emotions, and to think clearly under the stress of turmoil. They attain an “admirable constancy” that, even in the face of opposition, equips them to move effectively when others have been overwhelmed.”
“ Buddhist texts counterpose this strength of character to a range of character weaknesses—the tendency to lose focus, to become fearful, to react in anger to abuses or slights that injure the ego or the body, as well as to yield to the temptations of surrender and despair.”
This is obviously a very important quality to cultivate as not just beings alive during a turbulent time, but as investors who see money as energy and the opportunity to control it skillfully rather than having it control us wildly and chaotically.
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