In the early 1900s, Akiba Rubinstein’s parents wanted him to become a Rabbi. Instead, he became a chess legend, revered for the “Rubinstein Attack.” Once, when asked who his opponent was, Rubinstein responded, “Tonight I am playing against the black pieces.”
Perhaps one of the characteristics that made Rubinstein such a great player was that he didn’t focus on the other personalities involved in the game. Rather, he looked at the battle itself. As investors, we can learn from this grandmaster how to view our portfolios.
It’s easy to get distracted by earnings rumors, media leaks, and dynamic investment commentators. However, successful investors must focus on their ultimate financial goals, and not on what someone else is doing.
Like Rubinstein’s focusing solely on the black pieces, examine your individual stock picks. Relegate stories and e-mail spams with hot stock picks to your delete box. Concentrate on how the different parts of the financial markets are moving, and adjust your pieces to give yourself the best chance to win. Don’t just move a piece because it is your turn. Rather, make sure that you know its destination and its target before you even touch it.
When you examine your portfolio, look at each piece and see how you can improve your situation. One well-known Russian chess trainer, Boris Malisov, recently reminded me to try improving the placement of each piece; but if a piece is well-placed for now, or perhaps for the future, leaves it alone.
By concentrating on what is within your control, you may be able to dictate the terms of the game. Then you can focus on using your financial pieces to checkmate your goals.
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