Dad, You Are Not Growing! (Embracing Vulnerability)

Dad, you are not growing. You’ve stopped learning new things. You used to have new, creative ideas. Lately you were just improving things that are familiar to you.

Dad You Are Not Growing! (Embracing Vulnerability)

I am both sad and excited about going to Buffett’s Omaha this year. I am sad because Charlie Munger, a person I had tremendous admiration for, passed away last year. I’ll miss his wit and wisdom. I am excited because I’ll be there with both of my older kids. In addition to my son Jonah, who is soon to be graduating from CU Boulder, I’ll be joined by my daughter Hannah, who is about to graduate from high school and will be going to the University of Denver in the fall. This is Jonah’s fourth time and Hannah’s first time to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

Dad, You Are Not Growing! (Embracing Vulnerability) 

“Dad, you are not growing. You’ve stopped learning new things. You used to have new, creative ideas. Lately you were just improving things that are familiar to you. This is just a copout for you from learning and creating new things.”

This is what my 18-year-old daughter, Hannah, told me in response to my idea of taking the Stoic section from Soul in the Game, polishing it, adding a few new chapters, and turning it into a small, standalone book. 

I got this idea while I was listening to the Stoic chapters in Soul in the Game as I was preparing for a podcast interview with a heavy focus on Stoicism. I wanted to make sure that examples from the book were fresh in my mind. 

I cannot tell you how much I hate what I am about to say, as it is impossible to say it without appearing conceited. But the truth is, the raw emotion I experienced after listening to these chapters again was, “This is really good, and so helpful.” 

Although the book was published in June 2022, the manuscript went through its final edit in August 2021. Since then, I have researched a few hundred stocks, written a few hundred thousand words, read dozens of books, and listened to a few thousand hours of podcasts. Time creates distance between you and your written words. Therefore, as I listened to the Stoic chapters in Soul in the Game, as weird as it may sound, I found myself returning to those chapters more as a reader than their author. That is why I had this reaction. 

I realized I could create a very accessible, small-sized, practical guide to Stoicism. I liked this idea because the almost 30,000 word Stoic section is sandwiched between the parenting and creativity sections of Soul in the Game. Also, since the book came out, I have given literally hundreds of interviews about Stoicism and have learned more about it. I’ve had new ideas. 

I have done this before, kind of. My first book, Active Value Investing, had 300 pages and 75 charts and tables. John Wiley & Sons asked me to rewrite it for their Little Book series, and this is how The Little Book of Sideways Markets came about. It was 1/3 the size and had only five charts and tables. I believe the Little Book is a better version than its predecessor because I had the opportunity to improve it and cut things down. However, here is the paradox: I could not have written the Little Book without first writing the big book.

I probably would not have had the confidence to publish a standalone Stoic book. Anyway, it is this idea that triggered Hannah to give me this little lecture. After she told me this, I did not say anything, just went for a walk in the park to think about it. 

As I started to think about what Hannah said, I was overwhelmed with parental pride – I realized that my wife and I had raised a student of life (a person with a growth mindset). I did not think this way when I was her age. 

Hannah’s comment made me think about my circle of competence. On one side, I want to increase its circumference – learn new things – because it is on the edges where growth happens. 

However, that is not the only place where it happens. 

We also need to increase the density of what is inside the circle by revisiting what we think we already know. We forget. We also experience new things – and these experiences change us. This is why I believe we need to reread great books. When I reread a book, I am not the same person who read it five years ago. Experiences (life) have made me a different person. Thus, the same words have a different impact, as they are processed by a different version of me; and so I learn new things. Extracting the Stoic section from Soul in the Game and turning it into a standalone book would give me another opportunity to reread and study the Stoics.

Part of me wants to go back to the Stoics; another part wants to keep moving forward. 

Most importantly, Hannah’s comment also made me think about the relationship I have with my kids. They feel comfortable telling me uncomfortable things. I had a similar gentle but frank relationship with my father. He had enough self-confidence to not be afraid of being vulnerable. At times, when we went for long walks (especially when we traveled together), he shared regrets about mistakes he made in his relationships and different choices he wished he had made at certain points in his life. This openness elevated our relationship and made me feel comfortable giving constructive feedback, similar to the feedback Hannah gave me. 

I had never actually thought about this until now. I was never intentionally vulnerable with my kids; I was simply being myself, inadvertently copying the relationship my father had with me. Luckily, I had a good example to follow. 

In our society, vulnerability has turned into a word you would typically hear on a Dr. Phil show. By being vulnerable, we are admitting to another human that we are also human. We are not perfect; we have made mistakes, and we have fears and regrets. As I think about it, I see it as an authentic way of removing an artificially erected barrier, unclogging communication with people who are dear to you.

After I came back from the walk, I genuinely thanked Hannah for her feedback. Also, I showed her a few dozen “thinking” essays on new topics I’ve been working on for a long time but haven’t yet published. 

I have not made up my mind if I will do the little Stoic book, but if I do, I’ll call it Stoic Operating System. If you read Soul in the Game, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this idea. 

If you haven’t, I’d love to hear your insights, too, right after you read the book. 

Here are the last seven reviews of Soul in the Game on Amazon:

Soul in the Game review
Soul in the Game review
Soul in the Game review
Soul in the Game review

Related Articles

30 Years in America

30 Years in America – Edition 2024

On the 30th Anniversary of my family's arrival in the United States from Soviet Russia, I reflect on my time here. After recounting the hard early days in a new country when I was "fresh off the boat", I offer perspective on how America has changed since I arrived. What I see now is, in some ways, more troubling than what I found all those years ago as a new immigrant.

Rediscovering the Essence of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

When in the past I described my trip to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting to others, I often found that I contradicted myself.
Data Driven Hiring

Data Driven Hiring

I love being the CEO of IMA. I get to set the direction of the company, decide on its long-term and short-term goals, and build the IMA culture and team.

Expanding Perspectives Through Travel – From Spain to the UK

My brother Alex, my son Jonah, and I went to a conference in Switzerland. We saw this as an opportunity to turn the bookends of the trip into a small European vacation.

3 thoughts on “Dad, You Are Not Growing! (Embracing Vulnerability)”

  1. Vitaliy – I enjoyed your book, and look forward to receiving your blogs. The Stoic philosophy naturally appeals to me. I would GREATLY look forward to your book, Stoic Operating System. Stoicism is all about continual growth, the journey. I think it offers you plenty of ‘growth’ to continue further down its path 😉

    Reply
  2. dear vitaly,

    greetings from buenos aires, argentina !!!
    DO GO AHEAD with your stand alone idea of the stoic section of your book !!!
    it will address specifically something that a lot of people will like to read !!

    good luck with that !!

    gustavo posse

    Reply
  3. My wife and I both got a lot out of your book’s sections on stoicism (it was her first exposure to the philosophy), and I think a Stoic Operating System is a great idea.

    Reply

Leave a Comment