I was reading through some of my notes taken from Jeremy Grantham's quarterly letters when I came across his 10 lessons for retail investors provided in his first investor letter of 2012.
If one were to follow these 10 lessons at all times it would be hard not to succeed as an investor.
1. Believe in history: "history repeats and repeats, and forget it at your peril. All bubbles break, all investment frenzies pass away."
2. Neither a lender nor a borrower be: "Unleveraged portfolios cannot be stopped out, leveraged portfolios can. Leverage reduces the investor's critical asset: patience."
3. Don't put all your treasure in one boat: "This is about as obvious as any investment advice could be ... Several different investments, the more the merrier, will give your portfolio resilience, the ability to withstand shocks."
4. Be patient and focus on the long term: Wait for the good cards. If you've waited and waited some more until finally a very cheap market appears, this will be your margin of safety."
5. Recognize your advantages over the professionals: "The individual is far better-positioned to wait patiently for the right pitch while paying no regard to what others are doing, which is almost impossible for professionals."
6. Try to contain natural optimism: "optimism comes with a downside, especially for investors: optimists don't like to hear bad news."
7. But on rare occasions, try hard to be brave: "You can make bigger bets than professionals can when extreme opportunities present themselves because, for them, the biggest risk that comes from temporary setbacks - extreme loss of clients and business - does not exist for you."
8. Resist the crowd, cherish numbers only: "this is the hardest advice to take: the enthusiasm of a crowd is hard to resist. The best way to resist is to do your own simple measurements of value, or find a reliable source (and check their calculations from time to time) ... and try to ignore everything else."
9. In the end it's quite simple, really: "GMO predicts asset class returns in a simple and apparently robust way: we assume profit margins and price earnings ratios will move back to long-term average in 7 years from whatever level they are today. We have done this since 1994 and have completed 40 quarterly forecasts ... Well, we have won all 40."
10. This above all, to thine own self be true: "To be at all effective investing as an individual, it is utterly imperative that you know your limitations as well as your strengths and weaknesses ... you must know your pain and patience thresholds accurately and not play over your head. If you cannot resist temptation, you absolutely must not manage your own money."