One of the most important tools in investing and life is the ability to understand the world around us. Unfortunately, life is not that simple and even the most simple truths can become contradictory.
A paradox can be defined as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.
If you start looking, you will realize that paradoxes are everywhere around us. This can be a very powerful tool that you can use to become a better investor, a better worker, and a better person.
To get you started on this journey, here are 10 powerful paradoxes of life. Keep in mind, these are only a few of many paradoxes.
1. The Money Paradox
“Scared money, don’t make money.” - Anonymous
In order to make money, you have to be willing to lose money.
Some of the greatest investors and business leaders of our time have learned some of their most valuable lessons from a tough financial loss.
History has shown us over and over again that failure eventually produces greatness.
2. The Change Paradox
“Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.” – Socrates
A majority of people do not like change. However, no matter how much we want things to stay the same they won’t.
Nothing is meant to be forever. In investing, you have to always remember that companies and products will innovate.
3. The News Paradox
“Are you distracted by breaking news? Then take some leisure time to learn something good, and stop bouncing around.” - Marcus Aureilus
If you consume tons of news, you will become less informed.
Eventually you will become tone deaf to certain subjects in the news along with a cognitive bias to other subjects in the news.
The best way to learn about the world is to experience the world.
4. The Learning Paradox
“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” — Albert Einstein
The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
Once you start to learn about subjects, you realize that there is so much that you do not know about the subject.
If you think you know a lot, it’s either a sign of ignorance, or you just haven’t thought it through yet.
5. The Innovation Paradox
“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” - Steve Jobs
The more a large firm pays attention to innovation, the less likely it will be to be successful at innovation.
The key to innovation lies in taking risks, and we have large firms that are scared to fail. Once a firm accepts that failure is okay, they will truly start to innovate.
Failure has its upside, success its downside. Both are steps toward achievement. It’s not success or failure, but success and failure.
6. The Productivity Paradox
“Work gets done in the time available.” -Cyril Northcote Parkinson
Parkinson's Law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
The more time people dedicate in advance to a certain task, the longer it will take to complete it, even if it could have been completed in less time.
For example, if you give yourself until the end of the month to clean your room, you will slowly clean your room. If you gave yourself a 2 hour deadline, you could clean your room in 30 minutes.
7. The Catch-22 Paradox
“How am I supposed to gain experience [to be hired for a job] if I’m constantly turned down for not having any?” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22
The more you need something, the less people want to give it to you. Conversely, the less you need help, the easier it is to get.
For example: No one will hire you for a job because you don’t have any experience, but you can’t get any experience, because no one will hire you.
8. The Persuasion Paradox
“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” - Benjamin Franklin
Has anyone ever convinced you that they are correct by arguing with you and calling you a idiot? Absolutely not.
The people who are the most persuasive don’t argue, they listen, ask questions, and relate.
9. The Death Paradox
It is difficult for people of advanced years to start remembering they must die. It is best to form the habit while young.” - Muriel Spark
You have to realize that you will die, so you can truly live.
The Stoics preached that everyone will die with a term called Memento Mori. They did not do this to be morbid, but to remind people that they will die so remember to live.
10. The Icarus Paradox
“An incumbent achieves success with one thing, but overconfidence blinds them to coming disruption.” - Sahil Bloom
Icarus created wings out of feathers and beeswax in order to escape. The wings worked amazing as flew to his escape. However, he quickly became blinded by his engineering genius, flew too close to the sun, which sent him to his death.
Sometimes success can be the ultimate downfalls of an individual or an organization. You will never be successful when you have an overconfidence that leads to blind arrogance.
I hope you enjoyed this newsletter on paradoxes this week!
Stay Hungry, Stay Long