Some years ago, George Leonard wrote a wonderful book called Mastery which gives wise advise on how to become highly skilled at something. The book has helped many people in numerous endeavors and continues to be widely read today. I contend that consistently beating the market requires a high level of skill and that one would be well served by paying attention to what Leonard has to say on the subject of mastery.
Leonard teaches that true mastery requires an understanding that learning a new skill comprises brief periods of progress punctuated by long, successively higher plateaus, and even this does not always happen in regular clockwork fashion. During these plateaus further progress seems elusive. Yet, even without being conscious of it, learning continues. Lessons are being assimilated and the mind and body are preparing for the progress necessary for reaching the next plateau.
The key is recognizing and accepting that this is the nature of pursuing mastery. And that learning to love the plateau is an essential requisite for getting where you want to go.
Leonard further explains that there are three opposing and deficient character types which thwart the pursuit of mastery and short-circuit its attainment: the dabbler, the obsessive and the hacker. The dabbler begins the pursuit of mastery and initially makes good progress. However, once the dabbler hits the first inevitable plateau, he loses interest and moves on to something else. The obsessive thrives on getting better and settles for nothing less than continual progress. To fuel this progress, he throws himself into the task at hand and presses hard – too hard. Eventually he becomes burnt out and moves on to something else. Finally, there is the hacker. After some initial progress, the hacker hits a plateau where he is content to stay, never spending the time or effort to grow and move on to greater levels of skill.
To beat the markets requires mastery. Learn to love the plateau by finding joy in doing the necessary work, confident that real progress will follow and true skill will develop in time.