Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Heroic Dimensions of Trading

For me, there's no better time than a long holiday weekend to step back and ask the big questions: those that deal with the meaning and significance of being a trader. These segments from my two books capture much of my sentiment on the topic.

"It is better to struggle in the service of one's dreams than to find instant success at meaningless work. The greatest joy in life, George Bernard Shaw once wrote, is being used for a purpose you recognize to be mighty. The greatest fields--those that are a calling and not a mere job--give one room to expand and develop oneself. There is only one valid reason for trading the markets, just as there is only one valid reason for being a psychologist, a dancer, or an architect: because it is your calling, the arena that best draws upon one's talents and passion for self-development." - The Psychology of Trading, p. 317.

"There are few arenas left in life where the independent individual can enact the heroic struggle...This, I believe is the eternal allure of the markets. With a reasonable stake and an online account, each person can undertake his or her own gold rush and enact the highest entrepreneurial quest. Like salmon that swim upstream to spawn, sperm that pursue the egg, and prospectors that dig for precious metal, many will be called and few chosen. It matters not. What matters is the dignity and the dimension of soul conferred by one's noblest impulses. It is not desirable to rule in hell or to serve in heaven; far preferable, to paraphrase Ayn Rand, is to fight for tomorrow's Valhalla in order to walk its halls today." - The Psychology of Trading, p. 318.

"Let us not forget what it means to be a trader. It means that I am free to own property: shares of a private company or contracts in a commodity. I can take delivery of my property and dispose of it as I wish, or I can trade it to others. My decisions are mine to make; I need not follow the dictates of those who would put other interests--those of gods, governments, or guns--above my own. If I lose, it is my loss. If I profit, the gain is mine...Without freedom, there is no trading. Trading is a celebration of economic and political freedom. Slaves are traded; they do not trade." - Enhancing Trader Performance, p. 253-4.

"What are we really developing when we train for expert performance in any domain? We develop skill and knowledge, to be sure, but we also develop more than that. We cultivate will: the ability to formulate goals and direct our actions toward reaching those goals. Every training session is a battle of will: a struggle to overcome our limitations and reach a particular performance goal...When you enhance your performance as a trader, you replace a small piece of randomness with intention. To that degree, your outcomes are self-determined. If you train yourself properly, you will become not only a successful trader, but a more self-determining human being." - Enhancing Trader Performance, p. 254-255.


Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Colin Wilson

"Dr. Miller says we are pessimistic because life seems like a very bad, very screwed-up film. If you ask "What the hell is wrong with the projector?" and go up to the control room, you find it's empty. You are the projectionist, and you should have been up there all the time." - Colin Wilson

"Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice." - Ayn Rand