by Alexander Green
Today I'm in my favorite city, New York, speaking at a VIP Traders
Investors gather at these events to discuss various approaches to the
stock market. I remind them, however, that success will not come from
adopting a particular trading technique or even from buying the
No, their results will depend on the same thing that determines our
success in virtually everything we do: self-discipline.
Investing is not rocket science. All you need is a proven approach,
realistic expectations and the discipline to follow through.
As with most things in life, easier said than done.
Take dieting, for example. It is estimated that Americans spend up to $6
billion annually on dieting aids. But let's be honest with ourselves.
Dieting is not about Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig or NutriSystem.
Nor is it about cholesterol, carbs, sugars or fat grams.
It's about math. Every day of your life you either take in more calories
than you burn or burn more calories than you take in. (Glance in the
direction of your belt buckle to see your total.)
You already know which foods are good for you and which ones aren't. No
one needs to tell you "breakfast of fruit and yogurt - good. Donuts and
coffee - bad." "Tuna fish and salad for lunch - good. Whopper and
- bad." Come on. Losing weight is about nothing more than committing to
a healthy diet and regular exercise.
I happen to be an expert on this subject, incidentally. Over the past
two years I've been trying to lose 10 pounds and, so far, all I've lost
is two years.
I don't kid myself that my diet and exercise program "hasn't worked."
haven't worked. I haven't gotten off my fat duff often enough - and
rarely passed on that fresh slice of New York cheesecake slathered with
We can blame circumstances all we want. In our hearts, we know that lack
of genuine commitment is the real reason for most of our unmet goals,
whether in academics, athletics, career advancement, wealth building,
you name it. Fortunately, this is something we can change.
"Self-discipline is the foundation of freedom," writes Matthew Kelly
"The Rhythm of Life
"It is the foundation of greatness, achievement, heroism, leadership,
sanctity, and vibrant and flourishing communities and nations... If you
examine the lives of men and women who have achieved little or nothing
with their lives, people who are miserable, mean and dispassionate, you
will discover that it was not other people who destroyed their lives.
Destruction always comes from within."
A satisfied life comes from meeting your most important objectives. And
that means doing what needs to be done, without wasting time or energy
worrying about whether or not you feel like it. As the Nike slogan
insists, "Just do it."
"When we develop the habit of plunging in without whining, complaining
or procrastinating, we are on our way to genuine freedom," observes
author Laurence G. Boldt. "We may not want to face it in such stark
terms, but the choice is self-discipline or dependency; boss yourself or
Some folks imagine that making personal commitments and keeping them is
a chore. It may feel that way at first. But, ultimately, it can be
liberating. Wise men have understood this for centuries.
"Choose always the way that seems the best, however rough it may be,
custom will soon render it easy and agreeable," proclaimed the Greek
mathematician Pythagoras. "No man is free who cannot command
The Roman philosopher Seneca concurred. "Let us train our minds to
desire what the situation demands."
"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his
enemies," said Aristotle. "The hardest victory is the victory over
Millions have the ambition to succeed - and the aptitude as well. Why do
so few move ahead? Perhaps they imagine that since they can master the
job, there is no need to master themselves.
Big mistake. Seldom are we able to govern events. More often we are
challenged to govern ourselves.
As Siddhartha Gautama said 2,400 years ago:
"Carpenters bend wood; fletchers bend arrows; wise men fashion
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Alexander Green is the Investment Director of The Oxford Club and
Chairman of Investment U, a free, internet-based research service with
over 300,000 readers. (The Oxford Club's Communique, whose portfolio he
directs, is ranked third in the nation for risk-adjusted returns over
the past five years by the independent Hulbert Financial Digest.) Alex
has been featured on "The O'Reilly Factor," and has been profiled by
Forbes, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, CNBC, and Marketwatch.com, among
others. He lives in central Florida with his wife Karen and their
children Hannah and David.
Copyright 2008 by The Oxford Club, L.L.C
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