Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moving Beyond Fear and Anxiety

I had the pleasure of running into Dr. Doug Hirschhorn this past week, and he was kind enough to pass along a copy of his new book "8 Ways to Great".

The book is subtitled "Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life" and offers worthwhile insights that go beyond trading.

From the book's section on keeping your cool:

"Everyone gets scared, even the best of the best. In fact, sometimes being scared is the most rational reaction to a given situation. There's no shame in that. It's when people give in to those feelings that they get into trouble. As I frequently say to my clients, 'Feeling fear is okay so long as you don't act afraid or make a decision because you are afraid.'" (p. 80).

The distinction is important. It is not a problem to feel fear; the problem occurs when we allow fear to drive decision-making. Success is not banishing anxiety, but learning to tolerate and contain it. Indeed, one can even learn from one's discomfort, as I recently highlighted in a post. It is that resilience that enables traders to overcome loss and find opportunity from the losing.

Ironically, it is in embracing one's fears that we learn from them--and prevent them from reactively driving our decisions.