What is it about investing that motivates so many thousands of investors? It is said that the two emotions of every trader is fear and greed. Maybe. But do boys want to grow up to be the Sheriff of Nottingham, stealing from the poor to line their own coffers? What every boy desires is an adventure and to be a hero. This is no clearer than to look at boys as they play, watching them defend their pillow castles, build their appliance box spaceships, and battle with stick swords.
In this emasculated world of dull grey desks, neon office lights, and flickering computer screens, where do boys go to feel alive? No boy says, “I want to be an office drone when I grow up!” The man’s heart desires to be put to the test so he can prove he has what it takes. So the city boy must grow up to find his place in a concrete jungle, and in what better place can a man prove himself than in the lurid and dangerous world of the market.
While every man is built with the desire for adventure, not every man wants to become a cowboy, a rock star, or a football player — and that’s okay. Not every man in this world is a slick-talking salesman or an athletic jock. A true adventure requires strength of character, personal sacrifice, and the risk of losing something of value.
But short of a “perfect storm” or a nation to defend, where can the man look for his adventure? Few things in modern life afford this kind of lifestyle. Corporations make us productive, and follow the rules. Politics requires compromise until all our passion has been extinguished. Even farming, a once noble profession that Thomas Jefferson spoke of as the foundation of democratic life, has been turned into a mechanical, lifeless chore.
In the new world of modern capitalism it is finance and entrepreneurship that hold the key to adventure. In them a man can put his small savings on the line in search for his treasure – wealth and success. Friends of mine rightly exclaim that there is more to life than money. But for us, we know that it is the quest that we desire! The quest that makes us feel alive. Dollars are just a way of measuring our progress.
Sure there are safer investments, but for the opportunist looking for significant double-digit returns every year, only skilled hands and a sharp mind can navigate the stormy waters we sail in. And in the end, if we were capable enough we may be able to say, “Yes, I’m a self-made man.” And if not, at least we will fail while trying our hardest, and not have to take our place among the timid masses that were too afraid to make the effort. Overstated? Maybe, but doesn’t a part of it ring true?
I know this is heresy, especially in the school of thought that teaches patience and fortitude. However, I don’t think acknowledging this desire for true life makes us a bad people! It doesn’t make us careless. It doesn’t make us foolish. In fact the desire to succeed gives us focus and patience and attention to detail, far beyond what the “get rich quick” folks could ever have. We have an vested emotional stake in this and dammit, we want to win!
I was reading an article by Jim Cramer last night on TheStreet.com, and he retold his story about how he met his wife – a story which has all the notes of adventure a man wants. It goes like this: Squirrelly young kid goes to Harvard, and realizes that law doesn’t have what he’s looking for. He decides to throw himself into the investment ring and spends the rest of college researching companies and trading in a phone booth in search of an investment system.
After college Cramer becomes a stock broker, and eventually makes the leap out on his own to start his own company. It’s rocky, and he almost fails several times, but he meets a beauty (current wife Karen) and together they take on the world, (legally) making hundreds of millions in the process.
Isn’t this what every aspiring investor wants to accomplish? So many stories play out like this, and it is possible for all of us. So work hard, stay in the game, and eventually you will get there too.