Saturday, July 04, 2015

What Successful Traders Do

I recently wrote a foreword for a very interesting book of interviews with successful daytraders that will be coming out shortly.  Among the excellent contributors were @modernrock, @OzarkTrades, @InvestorsLive, @lx21, @offshorehunters, @elkwood66, @kroyrunner89, @DerrickJLeon, @johnwelshtrades, and @TomKellyLV, Although my trading is different from theirs--and theirs is quite different from that of portfolio managers I work with--I notice three broad areas of overlap.  These seem to be common elements of what makes traders successful:

1)  Resilience - Successful traders take risk.  Successful traders are sometimes wrong.  Successful traders take hits.  Successful traders learn from the hits, get up, and move on.  They are resilient.  They succeed, as Churchill observes, by moving from failure to failure with enthusiasm.

2)  Selectivity - Successful traders have clear criteria for what makes good trade ideas.  They also have separate criteria for what turns good ideas into good trades.  They don't watch everything, and they certainly don't trade everything.  They wait for good ideas to become good trades.

3)  Calling - Successful traders have an uncanny sense that this is what they're meant to be doing.  It's not a job, and it's not a career for them.  It's a calling.  That's the only thing that can keep people searching and re-searching, banging away for good ideas and good trades.  And it's the only thing that enables them to gain the immersive pattern recognition experience that separates them from average traders.

To be sure, there are other success ingredients, from discipline to creativity.  What I see among the traders listed above, as well as those I work with, is an unusual combination of these three factors.  It's a pleasure and a true education to study successful people.  There is much more to success than avoiding failure.

Further Reading:  The Real Source of Trading Success