The humble, religious and hard-working Jeremy Lin is incredibly popular because people around the world can all see a little bit of themselves in his past failures and now successes.
But what can we, value investors, learn from this young man in the sports field?
Jeremy Lin’s formula for winning
- Feverishly believe and fervently trust the Force within.
- Find your strength and your system, and play the game your way.
- Survey the entire field for openings and be opportunistically open-minded.
- Scout and deploy the talents around you.
- Practice humility and give credit to others in your team.
- Stick to brutal practice and endure years of heart-breaking disappointments.
If you really look at all the top players, their skills and talents are pretty much on the same level. In the end, what really matters is perhaps the innermost spirit that you can win. In that regard, a religious zeal does help all those who reach the top.
Survey the entire field and find your circle of competence
One of Lin’s key strengths is court vision. He looks at the entire field for openings and capitalizes on team members’ strength and expertise. He also works hard to find the system that works for him. Lin doesn’t have the athletic power of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. He’s not an amazing scorer. He’s an opportunistic passer who can also dive and score. He didn’t find his system in Golden State or Houston – where he was benched before landing at the Knicks. Then Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni gave him an opportunity to lead and helped him to discover a system that utilizes his strengths.
As an investor, you have to search deep and hard like Lin for years in order to find your weaknesses and your “circle of competence,” a central idea stressed by Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)(BRK.B). And then you must ensure that you’re in a field or system that is a good fit for your expertise and insights. You must play the game your way in a field you truly understand.
Believe in your own analysis when you hit rock bottom
Undrafted by the NBA, Lin was rejected by all the top teams. He was benched for years against seemingly impossible odds in a field where only a handful of Asian-Americans could make it. He was sent by the Knicks to play for their D-League team three weeks ago in Erie, Penn. He’d already been cut by two other NBA teams before joining the Knicks this year. Facing rejections and doubters for so many years, you have to believe in yourself and your own assessment.
And the key of success in value investing is exactly the same. You have to believe in yourself and your years of hard work at the moment when the entire world is against you. And you have to summon the courage to stick to your game plan during the darkest moments because those days are most likely the best opportunities you will see in your entire career.
Your courage and attitude,
Not your skill and aptitude,
Will determine your altitude.
May the Force be with you, in your game and on your field!