Sunday, January 31, 2010

Preparation, Performance, and the Look of Success

Thanks to Bella of SMB Trading for this link that illustrates what lies behind greatness. We see a young basketball player like JaShaun and we think of inborn talent. What we don't see is the many hours, days, weeks, months, and years of preparation needed to hone that talent into skill.

Each weekend I spend several hours scouring my indicators, reading the best blog posts and articles I can find, and reviewing my trading performance from the past week.

Out of that comes a tentative game plan: an idea of where I think markets are headed, an idea of alternate scenarios, specific plans for trading those scenarios, and concrete goals for improving my trading over the past week.

Week after week, that preparation adds up. It builds a sense of mastery and fuels confidence. There is nothing that beats the feeling of stepping into the arena and knowing that you *deserve* to win because you are prepared.

I used to have that feeling in college. I'd spend all-nighters studying for tests, while others slept or partied. I'd be exhausted sitting for the test, but it didn't matter. Sheer adrenaline--and the knowledge that I knew the material cold--pushed me through the exam. I knew that if I didn't have a 3.5 cumulative average, I wasn't going to clinical psychology grad school. That pushed me, and I pushed harder as my college career progressed. My GPA in my last two years was just shy of 3.9.

When I walked into the exam room, I *knew* I had a good shot to ace the test. It was a great feeling. Later, I would have that feeling as a psychologist. As a new professional, I would ask for the toughest emergency cases--the suicidal clients, the difficult to treat problems--because I knew I had a preparation edge. I wanted the ball in my hands when the clock was ticking down.

It's not overconfidence, and it's not cockiness. It's being prepared and knowing that deep in your being. It's the greatest feeling in the world, and it's the one that I see in the eyes of so many great, great traders.