This statement by Ben Graham is a good one that deserves deeper consideration and commitment to memory. I’m interested specifically to know if it can be applied to real world scenarios, or if it is limited to the investment realm only. The rules that apply in the investment universe are very, very different to those which apply in the physical universe where all of us humans live and breathe. They’re parallel universe’s, but there is some crossover.

To explore this idea, one might ask, “is it enough to aim for a satisfactory result, or should we seek out super over performance in other areas of our “physical universe” lives?” e.g. formal education, family, sport etc. Specifically, if it is relatively easy to achieve a satisfactory result in any area of endeavour, then should we be studying and aspiring to the satisfactory achievers rather than the outliers? For me the answer to this question is “yes” for the following reasons:

  1. Statistical outliers are not generally achievable. For every Ronaldo or Messi, there’s ten thousand guys who could have made a better living as a middle manager at a local supermarket rather than having slogged it out in the middle and lower divisions for the key years of their working life (late teens to late 20’s). However, those guys in the middle and lower divisions slogging it out for (maybe) $50K pa in match fees + win bonuses and working a day job to supplement their semi pro incomes, those guys should be studied more.
  2. Lists of the worlds/country richest people deter satisfactory achievement and contentment / happiness with acceptable levels of personal wealth. The fact is that you don’t need a hundred million + dollars to live a financially independent and (extremely) comfortable life – in most cases somewhere around or even less than $5M will do it. This point is often lost in media noise.
  3. Mohammad Ali said once that any little boy who wants to be a pro fighter should think again and “go, go now” and learn how to read and write because “in basketball, football, baseball or boxing there’s too much risk”. Unfortunately Floyd Mayweather makes the headlines – as does Ali’s knockouts. Sadly, the risks to which Ali referred prophetically physically materialised in his lifetime. We should never forget the advice from his younger self. See it in full here
  4. The Ordinary (but solid) good people should be aspired to. If they are, it will likely lift the entire tide not just the ambitious few who come out guns blazing and shooting for the top.
  5. Many super rich people are not good role models and have seriously messed up personal lives.

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