All successful investors, myself included, possess something in common.
The thing we possess is a behaviour trait or characteristic that is found in some children and not in others.
Indeed, the trait has been the subject of many experiments over the last 40 years and is a strong predictor of life success in general, not just financial success or investment success.
Not only that, but if you possess this particular behavioural trait as a child, it is likely that you will retain the trait throughout your life.
Before I explain what this trait is, I’d like to tell you a story that is very personal to me, to illustrate why the trait makes such a big difference to your investment success.
My Felt Tip Pen Story
This story is about my sister and I when we were children.
I was about 11 years old at the time and my sister was 10.
We’d been out for the day with my Mum and Dad and we’d been well behaved so we were each rewarded with an unexpected £1 pocket money to spend as we wished.
We were in a toy shop and my sister was running all over the shop anxious to spend the £1 that was burning a hole in her pocket.
I was content to leave the £1 in my pocket as there was nothing I wanted right now and preferred to wait until there was something that I really wanted.
After a while, my sister spotted a large pack of 100 coloured felt tip pens for 99p.
She thought buying the felt tip pens would be a great use of her £1 but she wasn’t happy buying them on her own.
She was adamant that I bought a packet of felt tip pens too and she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
She pestered me constantly, doing everything she could think of to persuade me to part with my £1 and buy a pack of felt tip pens as well.
Eventually, she succeeded and we both parted with our £1 pocket money to each take home a pack of felt tip pens.
But the story doesn’t end there.
When we got home, my sister proceeded to use the felt tip pens to colour in anything and everything she could find.
And when she drew anything with the pens, she always used the black felt tip pen to outline her drawing and make it look nicer.
Consequently, the black felt tip pen ran dry very quickly.
In contrast, I put my pack of felt tip pens to one side until I needed them later and I always used my black felt tip pen sparingly because I knew they always run out the quickest and I wanted mine to last as long as possible.
Unfortunately, when my sister’s black pen ran dry, she asked if she could borrow mine.
I said “no!”
My sister then complained to my Mum and got me into trouble.
My Mum accused me of being mean and told me to lend my black felt tip pen to my sister.
I argued that she would waste it, just like she had her own.
I argued that it wasn’t fair that I should have to allow my sister to run mine dry too when she wasn’t using it for anything essential and that she’d already wasted her own.
My Mum refused to listen to my rationale and threatened to punish me unless I lent my black pen to my sister.
Without a choice in the matter, I begrudgingly lent my sister my pen.
I only got it back when it didn’t work anymore!
The Moral Of My Felt Tip Pen Story
The reason I am telling this story is because it illustrates a key difference between myself and my sister when we were kids.
When I was a child, I had the self control to forgo short-term benefits in order to receive incremental benefits later whereas my sister didn’t.
As an adult, I have continued to have this ability and have been rewarded with an excellent education, two degrees, several professional qualifications, a good corporate career, a decent income, my own detached home, significant savings, two businesses and a significant shares portfolio.
In contrast, my sister left school at age 16 with few qualifications, had a series of unrelated jobs, went bankrupt in her late twenties, got into financial trouble with loan sharks and was living on benefits when she died of cancer at the young age of 39.
I loved my sister and she was a great source of fun, encouragement and laughter when we were kids.
But she was unable to control her emotions when it came to finances, health and various other aspects of her life.
The self control characteristic that I’ve illustrated several times in my story has been the subject of many experiments over the last 40 years.
Psychologists call it delayed gratification.
Delayed Gratification As A Predictor Of Financial Success
You may have seen on TV the experiment where they give a child a marshmallow and tell them they can eat it now or wait for two minutes to receive a second marshmallow.
They do this with lots of different kids and return to the same children years later to see how their lives have turned out.
Those that were able to delay gratification by ignoring the first marshmallow for two minutes to receive the second tended to go on to have a much more successful life than those who couldn’t wait and gobbled up the first marshmallow almost immediately.
Those with the ability to delay gratification became the best educated, had the top jobs, managed their finances better, and so on.
And not surprisingly, given that investment requires you to spend less on luxuries and invest money now in order to receive a greater sum of money later, all successful investors possess this characteristic.
If you are able to delay gratification yourself then you have the power to become a successful investor too.
Indeed, if you are not investing your spare cash wisely, then you are leaving easy money on the table and failing to live your life to your full potential.
If you’d like to know how to put your hidden investment skills to better use then you can get started investing in shares by requesting my free e-book “How To Invest In Shares” below.
Alternatively, if you’d like to talk to me about how investing in shares could change your life for the better, then apply for one of my “Stock Market Success Breakthrough Sessions” here.