Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Don't be afraid to say "I don't know"

Don't be afraid to admit you don't know the answer to a question. Admitting that you don't know the answer is a first step in discovering the answer. Too often, people just fluff off a question by saying (either out loud or to themselves): "yea, I know the answer" or "yea, I know how you arrived at that answer", when they truly don't. When they do that, they are cheating themselves because it means they will have a much smaller chance of actually finding the right answer

Here's and example from my trading days:
There was smart young assistant trader fairly new on the job. He was terrific at math and probably had the ability to solve some complicated problems. However, the problem with him as an employee (and as a future trader) was that he did not go through the details of his work. In fact, too often, he would ignore it. When caught, he would claim: "oh yea, I know that, it's a silly arithmetic error". However, when you make errors in the details, the final results often come out wrong also. His claim was basically that it was a small error, and he knew the right way to do it, and when it counted, he wouldn't make the same error again. Clearly this guy will have problems as a trader in the future if he continues to ignore the details.

This comment refers to gambling as well. Playing poker or sports betting. If you just assume that a free card raise is a smart play, without going through the details and figuring out the situations when it may be a poor play...then you'll make mistakes now and then in those bad situations. Go through the details. One way to do that is to read articles, books, posts in online forums. Often you will read something that you disagreed with. When that occurs, work through the solutions to see if you truly disagree or if you were making simple assumptions that ignored the details. Many times, you truly did disagree...either the writer was off his rocker and dead wrong, or you knew some little thing that they didn't know. But sometimes you can learn ... and it is those times that is very helpful as it will cause you to save money in future bets.

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