Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Dozen Reflections on Life and Markets

A Dozen Reflections on Life and Markets

Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.
Note: When I returned from vacation, I found that this article, written about two years ago, had been downloaded over 60,000 times in three days. Such are the viral ways of the Web. A followup reflections article will appear on the Trading Markets site tomorrow.


I've never seen a trader succeed whose explicit or implicit goal was to not lose. The trader who trades to not lose is like the person who lives to avoid death: both become spiritual hypochondriacs.

No union was ever destroyed by a failure of romance. It is the loss of respect, not love, which ends a relationship.

Love, once present, never dies. It must be killed.

Sometimes we select markets--and trading styles--much as we choose romantic partners: by their ability to validate our deepest-held images of ourselves. Our choices generally succeed, for better or for worse.

Many a trader fears boredom more than loss, thereby experiencing the two in sequence.

Goodness of character is measured in loyalty to others; greatness of character is measured in loyalty to principle.

A measure of the soul: the degree to which the surpassing achievements of others evoke inspiration rather than envy.

If you listen to the words, you'll understand the brains of the speaker. If you listen to the tone, you'll understand his heart.

Show me what a man loathes, and I will show you what he cannot accept in himself.

Two traders: one increases size after a loss; the other gets smaller. Both continue to lose.

One encounters losing traders as often as one encounters losing golfers--and for much the same reason.

The absence of self-acceptance too often masquerades as the desire for self-improvement.