I think you have written this blog (same name but I am not sure) and if so, then I understand your emotions with it. It is well written but I have a difference of opinion with the basic premise. Allow me to explain..
You have mentioned about confusing luck with skill. Lets evaluate this –
When someone in the age group of 18-21 years prepares for competitive exams in anticipation of becoming a doctor or an engineer or a civil servant, how sure is he/she of cracking it? Maybe a handful studious ones? Yet there are thousands counting on their luck every year who even sacrifice 4-5 valuable years in anticipation of success and yet majority fail. And what about the ones who get the chance of being in best medical colleges, IITs etc.? Are they sure that they would be able to handle the pressure and not dropout of it and maybe even commit suicide (maybe that’s extreme but it happens)? Now lets suppose they pass-out from a top college and get a job for themselves, then I can assure you that only top ten percentile of those grads will land up with plush jobs, which these colleges highly publicize to attract the best talent. The rest of the candidates generally start with basic salaries dreaming of achieving financial independence for half of the rest of their lives. And in the end few LUCKY ones achieve it.
I am sure medical, engineering, MBA, Civil are some mainstream careers in India. But not everyone loves to study so lets explore other options. How about creative arts? Singing, dancing, acting, writing and so on. Or lets say sports? Cricket, Badminton, Chess etc.? Don’t you think luck is equally important to make a career in these fields alongside skill?
There is a rat race out there and the only way to win is to have both skill and luck in just about every walk of life in today’s world. But its not as bleak as I sound. There is one escape to all this nonsense. And that escape is ‘Passion’. Because when you have a passion for something, the journey is far more satisfying than the final outcome. Passion will bring dedication, through dedication comes hardwork and wisdom of the world says that hardwork makes its own luck…and so there is a greater chance of success.
In my six years of teaching management grads, I have never instilled fear of failure in young minds. I have seen students taking up career choices from societal pressure. Parents never allow them the space to choose for themselves. Even today, when a child desires to pursue her (or his) majors in English literature, she meets with fierce resistance from the very souls who must encourage her. We cut and customize to fit her in our scheme of things rather than allowing her to stretch and spread her wings. This should explain why we produce average engineers and average doctors, ending their real journey halfway from where they were destined to reach.
Not every passion can/should be valued in monetary (materialistic) terms. An investor who hates his job, has a passion for investing and is willing to take it up as a full-time career can be far happier making 10% gain on portfolio, than a 30% opportunity cost he/she could have earned from the shitty corporate job.
One of our fellow boarders, very well wrote the motivations (other than monetary) of investing which I’d like to quote here:
No taking away from your write up, but I hope I am clearer in the difference of opinion on the basic premise that fear should not be the reason behind not pursuing passion in life. We all have but one life and the best we can do is nothing but to live and die by our passions. We will win some and lose some. But we would never know what we are capable of unless we keep aside the fear of failure and venture out.
By the way, to answer your question, I started investing directly in stocks in the beginning of 2007 and have remained invested through the 2008 crash losing 70% of my networth in one year only to recover slowly thereafter. Neither did I enter at a right time and nor could I exit right. Personally, I do not like to fail in life so I made sure to take note of my mistakes and develop a panache for investing. And investing is only second of my many passions. That is more on the personal note.