As a washed-up former high school athlete, I have competed in hundreds – if not thousands – of games. As I got older and the intensity and level of competition increased, the trash talk began. Simply put, trash talk is trying to get inside your opponent’s head and throw them off. Legend has it that Larry Bird, formerly of the Boston Celtics, was the best ever, as you can see here (Warning: some edited language):
I came to the realization early on that there are two ways to handle trash talk: reply in kind or tune it out. If you can’t keep up verbally – like me – it’s best to let all the talk go in one ear and out the other and just focus on the task at hand. On multiple occasions, I had teammates come up to me after a game and ask some variation of “Did you hear what he/she/they said?” My honest answer has always been “No.”
What, though, does any of that have to do with investing and finances?
Each person has to be brutally honest when reflecting on their own personality. Can they watch CNBC, read the Wall Street Journal, and check their account frequently without getting caught up in the highs and lows that the market can bring to the point where it impairs their mood and sleep? Or would they be better off tuning out the noise and keying in on the things they can control, like good money habits and following a well-crafted financial plan?
For most, turning a deaf ear to the pundits and talking heads is the way to go. Find someone you trust to give you good advice and tune them in, much like an athlete does with a coach, while tuning out the trash.