One reason why markets fascinate people is that they offer a means of self-cultivation as our decisions provide a unique insight into and training ground for the self. I learned this about chess after decades of playing and studying; it's not about what someone can achieve, it's about the opportunity such art forms present for developing your mind and spirit.

This facet of markets is probably unappreciated for several reasons, the first being that they also offer a unique means of making money and cultivating one's bank account. The second is that western culture has a heavy bias towards external things, so who needs inner cultivation when you can have fun prior to the inevitable snuff time? But the subconscious disagrees and yearns for such things, leaving us with the problem of how to rationalize.

GM Davies is the author of Play 1 e4 e5: A Complete Repertoire for Black, Everyman, 2005

Adam Robinson replies:

Nigel's thoughts on self-cultivation were echoed in an unlikely philosopher, Juan Belmonte, an illiterate street urchin who, though completely unsuited to the sport physically, rose to become the greatest bullfighter in Spain nearly a century ago. I extracted this quote from his autobiography and reflect on it often; I believe it to be one of the wisest things ever said:

Any life worthy of the name consists of nothing more than a continual series of efforts to build up a character through the medium of whatever struggle one has adopted for a career.

Russ Sears adds:

Dr. Brett's blog had an excellent link on the "Corporate Athlete" from Havard Business Review which describes how to self cultivate.

What I would add to this analysis, is that keeping a healthy physical base is excellent to refresh yourself, "clean the slate." When the best laid plans fall apart, hard excercise puts the loss in perspective and shows you can rebuild the pyramid over and over.


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