My grandfather (1885-1989) was the greatest teacher and influence in my life. His love of life and adventure was unparalleled. A true Renaissance man, he was comfortable with everyone from janitors to presidents. Since he always wrote everything down and was making lists, he once gave me a list on how to live my life. A truncated version:

1. Pay your bills on time
2. Pay your gambling debts first.
3. Never do business with a friend, but allow a friendship to develop out of a business.
4. Never, ever, cosign on a note.
5. Always buy bonds when they hit 60.
6. Always treat everybody at a business, from the bottom up, like he was the president of the company.
7. Always buy real-estate on the cheap.
8. Never touch the capital, and save part of the interest.
9. Live well below your means.
10. Never allow friends to know how much money you have and always "cry poor."
11. Spread your money and investments around.
12. Never lend more than pocket change to friends.
13. Family first in everything.
14. Congratulate your opponent when he wins, and be gracious when he loses.
15. Don't be a deal hog, and leave something for the next guy.
16. Speak little and listen a lot.
17. Never be afraid to say no.
18. Learn poetry, history, philosophy, and a second language.
19. Keep current in events, and keep an ear on the street for opportunities.
20. Learn good manners.
21. Treat every woman like she was going to be your future wife.
22. Don't trust the government, and never trust politicians.
23. Circumnavigate the globe at least once in your life.
24. Big game fishing is a manly pursuit.
25. Don't ever get drunk in public.
26. Don't ever embarrass yourself or family.
27. Never complain about your family to outsiders.
28. Teach someone your business and pass your skills along.
29. Never listen to race track touts or tipsters of any kind.
30. If they're selling it, why is it such a great deal or opportunity.
31. Never cheat at anything, nor be dishonest.
32. Never welsh on a deal or wager.
33. Always keep your promises.
34. Pay your people a fair wage.
35. Never pay retail for anything, but don't be a hog.
36. Allow your opponents to save face.
37. Never keep a mistress within 300 miles of your home.
38. Always give a guy on hard times some spare change.
39. Support a charity.
40. Be a stand up guy in all areas of your life.
41. Respect the flag.
42. Respect and listen to old people, as they know more than you do.
43. Work as hard as you can and play as hard as you can.
44. Keep your house and business tidy.
45. Allow your kids to be themselves and have fun.
46. Learn to play at least one musical instrument.
48. Respect other races and nationalities.
49. Never argue religion or politics.
50. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

My grandfather was full of life lessons, and I listened.

Sushil Kedia adds:

Here are some more important lessons to consider:

1. Other Points of View (OPV): Accepting, rather than denial or immobilizing fear, is the beginning. The situation definitely gets refined when one looks at it from Other Points of View. One must look at the situation from the views of ones adversaries as well as from the perspective of an unengaged onlooker. Dispassionate observation is facilitated by comparing OPVs with one's own view and building up a strategic process that is always computing the odds.

2. Grow beyond wrong and right: Anger originates as sequence of feeling wronged and guilt originates as a sequence of having done wrong. In winning, it is crucial to be beyond computations of wrong and right. Focus instead on what defines winning for you and what is appropriate for achieving that win.

3. Economy of Movement: Decisive action including communicating the bare minimum necessary innuendos (action as well its absence are both communications) not only helps conserve energy it consumes the energy of the adversarial situation or people.

4. You are the problem: The same situation involving another man has another solution. Recognize your unique gifts and the precious effort that must go in to defending and growing this uniqueness. No handicap is thus in the middle of battle a drain on your resources. Viewing the complete picture with you at the center of the problem is necessary to identify the path of least effort applicable to you.

5. Be your own decision maker: Responsibility for all outcomes is the facilitator for achieving a focus beyond destiny and helplessness. Assume no help will come but will have to be obtained.

6. Don't celebrate your success, in the usual way: Deception is an ingredient of every contest. Feign strength when weak and display weakness when strong is something Sun Tzu taught centuries ago, in any case.

7. The Pain gain formula: Nothing comes free. Pain & gain are often the two sides of the same coin. Always check if an advantage achieved or to be achieved has not come or will not come at an unfair cost incurred unknowingly elsewhere. With such a focus the need to enjoy the journey is extraneous. What may begin with pain could be the ticket to gain and vice versa. The driver of joy being the final destination, the journey will become worth engaging in all situations.

8. Beautiful mind: Beauty of cause is a state of the mind. Being conscious that the mind has states and one can by conscious choice alter those states one may overcome the definition of mind as espoused by Edward de Bono that, "mind is a self organizing pattern seeking system." You and the situation together are the problem. Be conscious of your cognitive states.

9. Believe that you will succeed: You cannot argue with this point since as much as is true that seeing is believing so also is it true that believing is seeing. The solution and the current moment are separated in time. In traveling across the correct strand of time, one would need to traverse the correct strand of time. Believing is the lens to find the correct strand.

10. Be the witness: Changing the perspective from being the doer to one who is a witness to the struggle drives objective and rational sides of the self organizing pattern seeking system called the mind. Fear and hope that are the normal controls of minds in normal states need to be put aside whilst input and output control need to take over.

11. Do, only whatever is necessary: One can always be aware of not creating more problems while solving the ones at hand.

12. Give up when required, only temporarily: need for rest, rejuvenation, re-organizing apart. Many times silence, inaction, inactivity provide the ultimate deceptive veil for more lethal and smashing action.

Jim Sogi comments:

The Pain gain formula: Nothing comes free. Pain & gain are often the two sides of the same coin.

I love this, and Jeff's list too. But I wonder why pain and gain are so correlated? Is it the issue of going against the herd vs the genetic urge to comply? It applies in physical fitness. I sure would appreciate some ideas on this one.

Jim Rogers replies:

Pain is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for gain.

Additionally, not all pain produces gain, but both concepts are relative. Because of the differences in both pain "tolerance" and measurements of gain (in terms of "value"), it's pretty difficult to turn this observation into any type of concrete maxim.

Finally, it seems that there are occasions where the value of a gain outweighs the pain endured, indicating some type of arbitrage situation. However, the pain of spending one's time looking for free lunches (combined with the "pain" of acquiring the skills to recognize arb opportunities) may minimize the net gain.

Alston Mabry writes:

What about that special pain the Mistress inflicts with volatility? One takes a position that then goes against, and one has to try to wait it out until it turns back in one's favor. So many times one gives in, escapes the position and the pain, only to watch the fulfillment come in exactly as predicted. Book the loss, learn the lesson, try again.

Marion Dreyfus responds:

You cannot win a great body without heavy working out. You don't fall into piles of earnings and wealth–you invest judiciously. Pain is obviously correlated to gain — otherwise we would leave the womb and float through life with strawberry sundaes glissando-ing off our lanais as we polish off language texts in the Copacabana with cognac fountains spurting gleefully in the front 40. We don't. We have to work to elicit goodies.





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