Morgan Housel: Discomfort the Key to Investing Success

 A key component of becoming a successful investor, writes Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund, is the “ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Investors, he says, “have a fascination with no-brainers, obvious decisions, and easy money. The phrases should be chapter titles in a book on the ease of deluding yourself.” He argues that finding well-performing investments requires above-average intelligence but also the willingness to “endure more discomfort and uncertainty than others.”

Housel cites a comment by former Benchmark partner Andy Rachleff: “What most people don’t realize is that you don’t make money if you’re right in consensus. The only way you make money is by being right in non-consensus. Which is really hard.”

Warren Buffett’s 2008 investments in banks, Housel argues, look like great ideas in hindsight but were made at a time of great fear that the banking system would collapse. “You are kidding yourself,” he writes, “if you think being greedy when others are fearful is as easy as saying it during a bull market.” While necessary for reward, Housel believes that risk isn’t “just quantified in spreadsheets,” but is gauged by an investor’s willingness to do things that might seem ill-advised to others—this, he asserts, is where outperformance can be obtained.