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I have one quote taped to the wall of my office.

“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.”Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before your learned it.

True of stock investing. True of life, too.

We are all beginners. There is never a time in life when we are not beginners at something. 

(Aside: I pledged earlier this week to teach myself SnapChat. God help me!)

Life is giving us an education. We are paying for that education and so are the people we make mistakes on. Yikes. But there is no other way.

These two stories helped give me perspective over the years:

One. President George Washington was a successful Revolutionary War commander and most of us know his success story. But, he made many mistakes as a young man in the French and Indian War. Washington’s men paid for his military education with their lives.

Two. The famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” is written by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the holocaust and three years in the camps, including Auschwitz. His odds of survival were grim — he was most likely to be killed right away, or worked until the last ounce of his energy had been spent, at which point he’d die of starvation, sickness, or a Nazi guard’s beating. He describes how every decision the prisoner made was a life or death choice. Should one choose this queue or that? He had mere seconds to decide with an incomplete information set. He could march in the direction of a prisoner work hut where he would live, or the gas chamber, where he would die. The lines were not marked. Luck and chance played a role. He could line up in a work group where the guards were in a bad mood and would later shoot him for no reason, or he’d line up with a more merciful guard who might slip a candy bar when no one was looking. These poor souls in the camps were forced to make fateful decisions without being able to see the future or the big picture.

So, too, are we all making decisions with the best set of data we have. Only, if you’re reading this blog, the consequences for you won’t be nearly so dire, and what a relief.

Go get ’em, rookie.