Knowing and Doing

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” -Edgar Degas

My daughter took a climbing class and now we go to gym regularly to climb. In the beginning, I’d yell up to her from the ground: “Good job!” “Grab that red hold!” “No, put your foot on THAT blue one!” “Just grab that hold to your left!” She was generally reticent to take logical routes, which I chalked up to her cautious personality and young age.

Then one day, I put a harness on and got on the wall. From the ground, my daughter yelled the same things at me: “Dad, just grab that one!” I thought, easy for you to say from down there! “Daddy, just reach up to that yellow one!” Again, I thought: Yes, technically, I could do that, but I’m not sure I can reach it, it feels uncomfortable, it feels risky, and so on.

Doing something is often harder than knowing how to do it. I believe recognizing this encourages understanding and humility, which in turn helps to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable expectations, criticisms, and so forth. Some may think such an approach is simply a lowering of standards, but I see it as providing a more realistic view of reality which leads to a better estimation of possibilities, probabilities, and ultimately better decisions and outcomes. The implications for due diligence, allocating, and investing in general are too many to count.

“In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is.” -Yogi Berra

Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Disclosures & Disclaimers page for a full disclaimer.