Friday, April 03, 2009

One Secret to Life Success

Back in the day when I was coordinating student counseling at a medical school, a student asked for advice about dating and finding the right person. I told him my simple formula: Go on lots of first dates, but not very many second ones. In other words, meet as many people as you can, but only get to know the ones that show promise. If you take that approach, I suggested, 10% of your dates will be promising, 80% will be OK, and 10% will provide funny stories to share with your buddies over a cold one.

The advice, of course, is a variation of "throw lots of things at the wall and see what sticks." Brainstorming lots of ideas helps you find the one or two that make a difference. I must look at 30 different market indicators or patterns before I find one worth using in trading or writing about in the blog. I'll write hundreds of blog posts before a few of them generate the kind of feedback to inspire me to write a book.

The secret to life success is that a kind of natural selection governs our own personal evolution. When we explore various "mutations" and throw them at the wall, eventually one or two of them will prove to be unusually adaptive. When we select those and run with them, success is not such an uphill battle.

But here's the thing: If you throw something at the wall and it doesn't stick, you can't take it as a sign of failure and walk away discouraged. My dating advice was that there really is no failure: only funny stories to tell after you find yourself paired up with the utterly wrong person.

So it is with a job search. I'll go to most any interview; maybe I'll like the job, maybe I won't. Maybe they'll like me; maybe they won't. But I'll make sure I learn something about the job market and what the employer is looking for. That will always help the next time around. Meanwhile, I'll save my rudest "ding" letters and share them with buddies over a cold one.

Now you understand why the trader performance book is so adamant about starting out in trading in simulation mode. That gives you the freedom to try trading lots of different markets, plenty of different patterns, time frames, styles, and setups. Without risking your capital, you have the opportunity to see what sticks; where your niche might lie.

The person who doesn't find success isn't necessarily the person without talent or skill, just like the person who hasn't found love isn't necessarily unlovable. They might just be the skilled, talented person who never threw enough at the wall to find a niche; who never went on enough first dates to find the promising second ones.

Your life is an engine of evolution and you are in charge of the selection. Take enough good swings at the ball and you'll get your hits. The only failure in life is to never swing the bat, to be so concerned about "failure" that you never select for success.


One beauty of trading is the set of life lessons it teaches.