When to Move On, from Craig Mee

December 18, 2009 |

 Is the blood, sweat, and tears and more importantly, repetion worth it? At what stage do you say, once mastered–there's nothing more to be gained, it's like a chore now, your energy is getting weaker and your soul being drained? At what stage do you determine, like a trade, positive flow against negative flow, are there too many pips and not enough 5 baggers? At what stage does the occasional good going out be worth the crap of reduced positive flows coming in? There must be a law of diminishing returns here, once the student learns the lessons that need to be learned, and learns what the matrix is and why it exists. Why hold on for that last 1% of no doubt ego gratification.

I looking at people staying around too long in there chosen careers, sports, whatever …

It seems it's important to move on, lessons learnt, and the path to the next destination will hopefully be somewhat clearer. Luckier for me on the trading front that that decision of moving on doesn't have to be made!

Riz Din comments:

I quite like the idea of maximising my utility and exiting when the marginal returns are greater elsewhere, of getting 80% of the easy results and moving onto the next activity where I'll pick up another 80% in the same time that it would have taken me to get the remaining 20% in the first activity. This dim-sum approach reminds me of the episode in Seinfeld where George Costanza learns about the showman's approach of leaving on a high and employs it to great effect:

Jerry: Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off.

George: I can't just leave.

Jerry: That's the way they do it in Vegas.

George: You never played Vegas.

Jerry: I hear things.

Of course, much depends on the activity and one's objective, for there are many ventures where the structure is more akin to a tournament and the spoils go to the victor. Here, going 80% of the distance is fruitless. It is as Al Pacino says in the film Any Given Sunday, that life is a game on inches and you do everything you can to gain that extra inch, for it is in the tightest of margins that you find the difference between living and dying, between winning and losing.

Almost every decision we make is a like a trade, with an entry and an exit, but too many times we enter into life's positions without thinking about our exit. It's different strokes for different folks, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop to question our motives, asking how much is enough, if it is ever enough, or how little is too little, if it is ever too little (so long as you keep on giving it your all and do not fade gently into the night?). Likewise for mastery of an art - while I admire the patient, Eastern philosophy of practising a simple task over and over, I also know that this approach is not for me. Here's a quote from an article I read about a Japanese knife maker:

'I will stop making knives when I stop learning something new and I haven't stopped learning in the 90 years I've been making knives'.

Maybe the greatest sin to simply carry on doing what you do as an avoidance strategy. By keeping busy you are avoiding confronting yourself and straight up asking yourself whether your actions have the value they once they did, if at all. In this situation, time eventually decides on your behalf, and one way or another, you get carried off. You've stop being the master of your destiny and have fooled yourself into thinking that you are still making the right choices - an impossibility if you have stopped asking yourself the right questions.


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