Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Value of Trading as a Performance Activity

Is trading a useful activity? A thoughtful reader writes:

"I am unable to reconcile as to how traders are providing any value to the society by what they are doing. I accept that we may be called providers of liquidity (which I really doubt we are) or guys who determine correct asset price helping bring market efficiency, but it still does not make trading relevant from a social perspective...I sometimes feel that as a trader we are pretty selfish guys concerned with our own well being. When we make profits, we do not regard the losses someone else made and trading seems like a zero sum game to me."

I addressed this issue in the post on the value of trading. See also the post on the dual road to trading success.

The real issue here is the assumption that one's value--and the value of one's activities--is a function of help to others.

The great scientific discoveries, for the most part, have reflected the very selfish concerns of investigators who become consumed with finding the answers to challenging questions. Doing what they love and following their passion does indeed bring benefit to others: that is the happy synthesis. In starting a business and seeking success, an entrepreneur brings jobs and needed goods and services to the world. In creating a great work of art, a painter absorbs herself in her medium and brings something of beauty to others.

When you make the most of yourself, you become a greater value to the world.

Like all performance disciplines, from sports to games of skill, successful trading requires self-development. In developing ourselves and mastering our own thought processes and behaviors, we have the opportunity to not just become better traders, but to also become better human beings. And, yes, that brings benefit to those with whom we interact: from the role modeling we provide to younger people to the fruits of self-mastery that aid our roles as parents and spouses.

Please review the post on the value of trading, particularly the last paragraphs. Trading is a useful activity to the degree that it pushes us to become more than we are: to enact the best within us, not just in markets but throughout life.