Don't Let Pride Stand in the Way of Your Portfolio

Joel Litman

Are you proud of your investing acumen?

Then prepare for ruin and disaster.

It amazes me that most of society has ignored thousands of years of great advice about one of the seven deadly sins... from every corner of the world.

Somehow, the word "pride" has leaked into our daily vernacular – as if it's a good thing.

Folks say they're proud of their job... of their company... of their kids... or of the person they've become.

To be clear, pride isn't absolutely terrible. Relatively speaking, it's better to feel pride than shame, anger, or guilt. Those feelings are damaging, both physically and mentally.

But that doesn't mean pride is inherently good. Unfortunately, it's just a few steps removed from these other very negative feelings.

One realizes over time what great sages have said from China to India to Europe over thousands of years.

Proverbs, the Hindu Vedas, and ancient Chinese philosophy all said it in different ways...

Pride goes before destruction.

Pride of wealth destroys wealth, pride of strength destroys strength.

A wise man has dignity without pride; a fool has pride without dignity.

Pride is at the root of some of the worst disasters in history...

From the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns... to the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia explosions... to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill... pride has reared its ugly head before each of them.

Experts have studied the causes of each of these crises. And I've found it incredibly interesting how often their findings point to pride. The people involved were frequently too proud of their work to admit they were wrong. They seemingly ignored – or even purposefully hid – their mistakes until it was too late.

Pride doesn't do us any real good in the long run because it sets us up for failure and disappointment.

The problems with pride extend to investing, too...

Some of the biggest financial names have warned us against pride. Take investing great Paul Tudor Jones, who famously said...

Don't be a hero. Don't have an ego. Always question yourself and your ability. Don't ever feel that you are very good. The second you do, you are dead.

Ray Dalio, one of the most successful hedge-fund managers ever, warns that people commonly "allow ego to stand in the way of learning."

Said another way, pride makes you think you already know everything. It closes your mind to learning. But in reality, what's working today may not work tomorrow. Markets change... businesses change. If you're stuck in your ways, you miss out on opportunities to make money.

At Altimetry, we love the work we put into our financial research. But we're careful not to become too proud to reconsider our ideas. I work to build an investing culture focused on enjoying the process that goes into our research.

If we "tap dance to work every day," as Warren Buffett says, that joy creates the best possible environment for providing outstanding investment advice.

Wishing you love, joy, and peace,

Joel
July 22, 2022