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February 07, 2011


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What makes you think you weren't the best employee from the get-go? Just curious to hear your thoughts. I'm wondering about my own performance as an employee and curious to hear your thoughts on what lead to this realization about yourself.

Sally --

Simply doing an honest comparison of my skills versus those of others in the organization. Let's just say I was very, very "green."

In the high school that I attended in England there were different classes in each grade that were labelled A,B,C,D,& E. You were placed in a particular category for each subject every year based upon your final exam scores. I always managed to stay in the "A" stream throughout high school but I was never one of those students that always finished near the very top of the class. Even to stay in the 'A" stream I had to put in far more hours studying and working on reports than the very gifted students that just breezed along because of their exceptional intelligence. I had to give up playing football and cricket at the weekend with my friends in order to keep my grades up and turn in all my reports on time. It was the same at college, I was always a B+ student and my A's were not that many.
The same pattern stayed with me during my career, I put in longer hours than most of my colleagues and used to take work home with me. I also volunteered whenever possible to be chosen to lead a new project and then worked my tail off to make a success of it.
After I retired I put the same kind of effort into switching from Engineering Analysis into "Investment Analysis" and with lots of hard work, long hours, and perseverence I succeeded in that to where now I couldn't be happier. I have a great marriage of almost 55 years, a beautiful home, three kids that are self supporting, and an investment portfolio midway between 7 and 8 figures.

Bottom Line - Hard work and Perseverance can make up for not being born with super intelligence.

I am tenacious about being doing the least amount of work, but taking home the largest paycheck.

I think you are on to something.

One weak point with tenacity- the unwillingness to cut your losses when investing! From personal experience, this is one area where being tenacious is not a good thing.


Cutting losses is really not about being a tenacious person. It is more about understanding that when anything breaks a stop-loss or any other kind of technical indicator that you may have set up when you made the purchase then you need to act swiftly upon it and not just hope and pray that it will rebound quickly.

Sometimes you make a purchase based upon sound analysis and a good technical pattern or trend and then out of the blue something comes along that has a significant adverse effect upon the equity. A typical example for a stock is an unexpected bad earnings report. The term for such a surprise is a "Disaster de jour" and 20+ years ago when I bought stocks I had a few of them. They usually gap down when they open and then go down much further as the bad news spreads. Depending upon the nature of the bad news sometimes they take a long time to come back and sometimes they never come back. Now that we have the Internet everything happens so much faster than in the old days when you relied on getting a call from a broker.

One term I would use to describe someone that is unable or unwilling to take swift action when needed is "stubborn".

Is there a difference between tenacity and perseverance or diligence? The reason for asking is that is seems tenacity infers more intensity. If this were the case I hesitate saying I've got tenacity but rather perseverance or diligence. The next question is if these assumptions are true, can one with just the quality to persevere can go as far as one with tenacity.

In Webster's the definition for "tenacity" says, see perserverence. In other words they are synonomous.

I think tenacity is really important in life, if you give up to quickly you're unlikely to flourish, but I think its necessary but not sufficient-you can work really hard and still fail (particularly if you put your energy into a career with no advancement opportunities). Hard work does not guarantee wealth.
One of the challenges with deciding what's important/useful based on the success of the very wealthiest people-the top 1% or so, is that it doesn't necessarily tell you what is the most effective way to succeed. Like the discussion on grades a few posts up, making good grades may not increase your chances of running a business, but it definitely increases your chances of getting into medical school, and there are a LOT more doctors and nurses than owners of multi-million dollar businesses.

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