Friday, February 28, 2014

Moving Past Trading Failure

In response to the post on making peak performance a lifestyle, one reader asks insightful questions:

does commitment come from belief in the possibility of change?

if yes, then if you lack belief (due to years of trying and failing without knowing what you were doing wrong and without knowing what you need to do differently and how to do it) AND your years of experiencing failure have made you think and feel like you are a loser who will never win...

how do you dig yourself out of that bottomless pit?

if you are in the unfortunate position of internally feeling like a failure, how do you develop enough belief that you can improve yourself?

It is indeed difficult if not impossible to make changes if the belief in the possibility of change is not there.  

The key to the reader's dilemma is "years of trying and failing without knowing what you were doing wrong and without knowing what you need to do differently."  In the post on finding your niche, I suggested that traders often experience failure because they place their capital at risk before they have truly identified their performance niche.  Another post on performance niche makes a similar point: 

...success is achieved when we find markets and styles of trading that take maximum advantage of our skills and talents. That keeps us focused on markets and absorbed in them, enabling us--over time--to internalize their patterns.

Many, many times, traders do not live up to their potential simply because they are trading markets and methods that do not draw upon their strengths. Without that fit, they are not absorbed in what they do; frustration replaces focus and learning suffers.

What we know from performance research is that, when our inborn talents, acquired skills, and deep interests line up, we experience an accelerated learning curve.  A learning curve that fails to take off is often useful information.  The successful longer-term investor might very well be a failure at rapid intraday trading.  Someone who has a deep knowledge and feel for commodity market trends and fundamentals would stumble attempting to trade chart patterns in stocks.  

When I was teaching at the medical school in Syracuse, I recall working with students who felt like absolute failures in their surgery clerkships, only to later shine when performing in family medicine or psychiatry.  

Trading, like medicine, consists of many specialties, many potential niches.  The answer to my medical students was not to put years into struggling with surgery:  that would have not have helped them or their patients!  Rather, the answer was to explore other specialty fields and see where there was a fit.  Being a failure at one type of activity is an invitation to try others.  Different time frames, different market instruments--all can be practiced on sites such as Zolio.  Once you're back on a learning curve, you'd be surprised how quickly enthusiasm can return.

Further Reading:  Deciding to Give Up Trading