On her way to winning the women’s singles title at the International Table Tennis Federation European Championships in Alicante towards the end of last month, fifth seed Li Qian of Poland participated in – and won – an 88-shot rally.
Not quite up there with the Guinness world record of eight hours and 40 minutes set by the UK’s Daniel and Peter Ives in 2014 then, but still mightily impressive for a competitive match.
Impressive, yes, but not especially surprising because Li is well-known in her sport for being a very defensive and tactical player. Rather than yielding to the temptation of trying to pull off a big shot for a quick win, her style of play is to take her time – waiting either for her opponent to make a mistake or the best possible opportunity to finish off the point.
Self-control and investing
And, yes, of course we are going to draw a parallel between Li’s style of play and the way we go about investing, here on The Value Perspective.
For while her tactics are clearly successful, they do require unusual levels of patience. At the same time, her ability to demonstrate such self-control where her opponent cannot – despite her opponent being keenly aware it does work, is something she uses to her advantage.
Similarly, here on The Value Perspective, we know history shows – and experience has taught us – that long-term investing requires unusual levels of patience and the sort of self-control that is not exactly hard-wired into the human brain.
That is why we strive to maintain our discipline – to avoid making mistakes and being tempted away from our value-oriented investment strategy.
Narrowing down stocks with patient analysis
A good illustration of this is our annual ‘Summer scramble’, the mechanics of which we revealed here last year and through which we aim to narrow down a universe of thousands of listed companies around the globe to just a handful of ‘must-own’ stocks.
This year, as the following chart shows, our highly disciplined and patient approach cut more than 7,000 business down to just eight – taking us rather longer than eight hours and 40 minutes in the process.