What Have You Learned?
Recently I was asked what's something important I've learned recently or that I have changed my mind about. There's a few big ones, first and foremost is the idea of asymmetric risk which I have written about in the context of Bitcoin. I've chronicled my position in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). Bitcoin is backed by nothing other than a few touts telling us it will be a big deal. They could be right, it could be everything they say, sending the price up to $1 million per Bitcoin. If there is nothing underlying it (yet?) then there is nothing to prevent it from going to zero. A little bit invested that goes to zero is no big deal but if that little bit goes to $1 million then it would be a big deal. I've come to have a greater appreciation for this potential.
The stock market is a place to get rich slowly which means there is no asymmetric attribute. The average return is 7-10% annually depending on what timeframe you look at. Outlier returns in a year might be 30% to the upside and 40% to the downside. The day Bitcoin hit $14,000 last week, a 52 week high, it also entered a "bear market" being down 20% briefly. It has since clawed some back.
You can invest in the stock market, but for now Bitcoin seems to be pure speculation and I don't think I have any real pushback to someone who says it's a Ponzi Scheme. Any outcome is possible and that is the asymmetry.
I do want to include an example of what is not asymmetric risk. Someone from self-improvement Twitter whose Tweet volume far exceeds his wisdom said that lifting weights has asymmetric risk because you can get so much out of it without having to put a ton of time into it. That description is true, I lift twice a week for about 45 minutes per and I believe the benefit to me far outweighs the time spent. That's not asymmetric risk though. It's probably better thought of as asymmetric benefit. This example may not resonate with you but to the extent we confront various asymmetric opportunities in our lives, it helps to know which ones actually involve risk and which ones don't.
Another big thing I've learned over the last year (nine months) is the importance of deadlifting, the weightlifting exercise. I'd never done it before last September. I've come to believe it is the most important weight bearing exercise you can do. It is almost a full body movement that hits legs, trunk and grip (the importance of grip is underrated). After each set of deadlift (I do two sets in my routine) I am gassed, meaning I am very out of breath, and somehow during the set my mind empties out entirely. I get a similar feeling from dealifting as I do when I put money into a retirement account; I am doing something for our future. Weird, I know, but still...
I've been lifting weights pretty much my entire life but over the last year I've had relatively huge gains (using heavier weight) deadlifting than with the exercises I've done my entire life. This is not surprising actually but makes a great point for people who do not lift, you are not too old to start (deadlifting is new to me) and see clear and obvious benefits/improvements. Anyone can get stronger.
You're not going to deadlift 551 pounds with one hand like Jon Pall Sigmarsson but you don't need to. The act of doing will lead to improvements that will make you healthier.
Finally a quote from Satchel Paige who said "how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" (Image by Scott Hodges)
This sentiment ties directly into diet and exercise. One of my gotos on this subject is @mangan150 on Twitter. In today's email (you should signup for it) he talked about higher body fat, larger waist, insulin resistance and lack of exercise as being things that make us feel older. There is a huge behavioral element to this list such that we can bring on feeling older at a pretty early age or stave off feeling older to a far more advanced age. I will use the example of my old neighbor with a backhoe who last fought a wildland fire (hiking up a hill to dig a fireline) at age 75. Fair to say he didn't feel old on that day. Additionally, if you find yourself being overweight with a poor diet and no exercise, you can start now and reverse much if not all of what makes you feel older. The body can be very forgiving that way but it's up to you to start.