May

14

Justine Henin, one of the top five or six most complete tennis players of all time — male or female — decided to retire today while still ranked as the number one female player in the world. Though she has won only seven grand slam titles in her career, I believe her game had no weaknesses whatsoever, thus putting her in elite company with Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Roger Federer. Her retirement comes at a time when she still could have competed at the highest level in grand slams. How many she could have won is an unknown, but at least three or four in my opinion.

She was tired. It was as simple as that. There is much more in life than tennis according to her press conference today.

With respect to the market, I suspect we all will ultimately face the day when we decide to stop competing, and most of us will do it at different times and for different reasons - burnouts, setbacks, age, success, or death. As for me, I have quit the trade a few times for a few of these reasons, and also was almost out of the game for the last of these. But, I continue to trade on.

Henin chose the high road, one marked with tremendous success. I hope my end, and all of yours, will be similar.

Vince Fulco adds:

Speaking of "When to Quit," picked up Professor Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" while on vacation last week. He was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who surprised his class by giving a lecture on realizing one's childhood dreams. All those in attendance realized it would be his last public presentation due to his advancing and inoperable pancreatic cancer at age 47. While written in a breezy "Tuesdays with Morrie" style, his heart-wrenching and impactful life stories with a moral attached to each are poignant reminders of our finite time on this planet and the need to strip away the superfluous and focus acutely on one's chosen task at hand. Of course, while not forgetting the importance of cultivating strong families, relationships with work colleagues and friends.

The lecture is available online.

A great summer read written by a genuine straight arrow.

Nigel Davies responds:

There may be a difference between quitting and moving on. Quitting, at least in my book, means a total discontinuation of a particular activity with a huge loss on the time/money invested. 'Moving on' is different, you keep the accumulated 'wealth' (skills, lessons, experience, money) and subtly redirect it within the context of your life.

Perhaps we should always try to move on rather than quit, just change the balance rather than go in with major surgery. I think this applies to all walks of life; professions, sports, games and relationships. And it may be better for trading too, readjusting positions within shades of grey rather than opting for black or white.

This line of reasoning also makes me wonder if we should always look for things in life that will have ongoing value rather than face the expense of multiple 'quits'. This may be a useful guide in everything we do, and I only wish I'd thought of it earlier.


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