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Friday, 28 October 2011

Limitations of imitating others beyond our league - 东施效颦

I would like to share an oriental story for a change to balance the western inspired stories I've written so far.

During the Spring Autumn period in China, there was a lady named Xi Shi whose beauty is so mesmerising that it was said that fishes in the pond will stare in a daze, "forget" to swim and sink to the bottom... She is also the "head" of the 4 great beauties in China.

As with all things in life, there is balance. Though beautiful, Xi Shi suffers from chest pains from time to time. One day, she had such an attack... Xi Shi would gently pound her chest and frowns her brow in pain.

Fellow villagers who witness this scene find Xi Shi even more beautiful and alluring. Soon news of this chest pounding scene spread throughout the neighbouring villages.

Now there is another lady by the name of Dong Shi that lived in a nearby village. She likes to doll-up herself in her spare time - despite her "plain" looks.

Upon hearing the buzz that Xi Shi has generated, Dong Shi thought she could illicit the same response from others if she copied Xi Shi. So Dong Shi will deliberately pound on her chest gently and frown her brows while walking down the main street.

Well... Dong Shi's contrived efforts and her "plain" looks caused more people to look away...

There lies the origin of this chinese idiom: 东施效颦

I am writing this story as a mockery and reminder to myself. I too was caught up by the interest in Steve Jobs' biography and the snippets of information that was released in the media.

I stopped myself from buying the book. I remember I am still flushing out the Warren Buffet "poison" that is remaining in my body. No, I am not dismissing the work or words of great men and gurus much wiser than me. On the contrary, I love to "borrow with pride" the wisdom of others that make sense to me.

The problem lies with me.

I tend to "justify" my actions by saying to myself that if so and so can do it, so can I... And realise after the fact guru is guru, I am I. Principles and ideas - that I can "borrow with pride" - but the problem starts when I try to imitate the actions of gurus who are very different from me... 

Painful lessons I've paid when I tried to invest like Warren, only to find that I am more a John Neff's growth and income guy - with a dash of Jessie Livermore; and a splash of Jim Rogers.

Steve Jobs? Except sharing a common bad temper (I have self awareness of this flaw; but it's so hard to correct... Especially when I snap at people I love due to over familiarity); there is little else that we have in common. I am far far away from his league. It's not false modesty or self-deprecation. For goodness sake! I am a Teochew, and "taking pride" is what I do.

Maybe it's silly thinking. But I now pay careful attention to what and who I read. Again, it's a me thing. Some information that once sinks into me, just can't seem to go away...   Also, reading and learning from too many gurus can get me confused.

I need to focus.

Like learning kung fu, I must master a few skills well, than to learn a bit of this and that but master of none. And most important of all, chose a kung fu skill that suits my physique and natural abilities.


  1. Imitating those Gurus may be too chim for us.

    How about imitating our favourite bloggers?

    If they can do it so can we?

    But, before we do that. Think! Monkey cannot imitate Gorilla as 800-pound Gorilla can do what it likes and still survive.

    Following someone investing idea? (2)

  2. Hi SMOL

    Reading biographies of successful people is interesting. But the challenge is how to chart our own paths taking into consideration our unique characters and personalities :-)

    I think you have a gift of writing very interesting stories based on your own observations. That is your gift (amongst others).

    Be well and prosper.

  3. Hi MOL,

    How've you been? I hope all is well and good while I was away from the blogging space.

    Interesting story you got here. Coincidentally, I was hearing stories about kung-fu today during an event I was attending!

    The speaker was encouraging aspiring traders to master the act of "formless form" when trading. That is to achieve a state of flexibility when interacting with the markets, not confine to rigid rules and boundaries. But just flow and respond to the market with ease. Was super chim ah!

    The funny thing is, I seem to understand and yet at the same time, scratch head and wonder how can this ever be done!

  4. act of "formless form"???

    We must learn this kung fu from Zhang Wuji,张无忌in 倚天屠龙记

    or do Naked Trading or Investing

  5. 1) CW8888,

    Lucky I not monkey or gorrila - I am the seagull. Stupid NS corporals always force us to sing the chinese seagull song whenever we do road march. Now it's stuck in my mind. LOL!

    2) Panzer,

    You are too kind! I will practice my craft here, and when ready, maybe I can submit some of my stories to the newspaper next year? Fantasizing is fun and free!

  6. Sm@llfry!!!

    I am doing fine - thank you.

    Fat8888 and Singaporeforextrader are both taking breaks from blogging. And when I went to your blog, you too have stopped posting for sometime.

    I was thinking what's going on with Singapore's trading bloggers!?

    Phew! So glad you have returned!

    As for "formless form", like the Emperor's new clthes - the question is whether the Emperor is wearing anything at all!

    Would you buy an invisible gold bar from the snake charmer?

    There is of course "formless form" of kung fu. That's the apex and highest kind kung fu.

    But that's only taught to best and the brightest student (note: singular; not plural). It's not taught to every "man-in-the street" ;)

  7. haha, what it really means is to learn to forget, Sm@llfry.

    it can only be achieved with lots of training (trading) i guess.

  8. and smol, i think you have a wrong concept of it.

    in a nut shell or whatever shell, you practice so much so that at the end you don't even know how you get there. or you do it without thinking of it (not intrution). what emperor cloths haha.

    by imitating others, you greatly reduce the chance of achieving it.

  9. Coconut,

    Thanks for illuminating sm@llfry and me :)

    Ah so!

    But if I new to Trading, how do I know the guru really knows what he is talking? How to tell if he is the real deal?

    A true guru who have forgotten his kung fu after many years of live trading sessions? Or if he is one of those "ordinary" gurus who after many years of trading, discover it's more profitable to teach than trade?

  10. in my world, there are no gurus, me is my own guru, or gundo (stupid) haha.

    do not wordship anyone, not jesse or george or jim.

    if trading teach me anything, it has tought myself or reveal or aware what kind of person i am. thats all.

    i don't care whos talking, guru or not. cos even he is a guru, i'll not gain anything if i follow it.

    be yourself, if you can't take the pressure of trading/investing, give it up soon, if you can give it a try. don't force it through cos it will not last.

  11. i think i didn't answer your question haha.

    first if you are new, you can't see who is good and who is not and what the hell he is talking. that you can only gain through experience unfortunately.

    next, a master does not forget how he trade!! he simply did not think when trading. cos thinking will hinder his performance. did you think bruce lee think every moment when he is fighting? if he did he will be dead.

    last to those who teach trading, i really don't care. cos i'm too lazy to teach and i'm selfish and most of all i don't think trading can be teach.

    but if i can help to reveal who you are, that will be great but most people cannot accept it. so do it yourself.

  12. Hello qian bei Coconut,

    "cos i'm too lazy to teach and i'm selfish and most of all i don't think trading can be teach"

    On the contrary! I am learning so much from you from our jokes and friendly debates!!! You make me see myself better and question my long held beliefs.

    I now realise I should not be so critical of "gurus". I don't learn well from formal school settings, and should not confuse those who learn best from formal classroom environments!

    A thousand apologies!

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