Sunday, June 12, 2016

Becoming a Peak Performing Trader

Trading is a performance field, no less than athletics or the performing arts.  What you see in any performance field is a dedication to practice among successful professionals.  Indeed, from chess to Olympic wrestling to Broadway acting, there is no performance field I'm aware of where there is not a high ratio of time spent practicing to time spent performing among elite performers.

So the relevant questions become:  How much time do you spend practicing, and how do you structure your practice?  

The time you spend trading is NOT time spent practicing unless you have structured processes for reviewing your trading, systematically identifying what you've done right and wrong, and making efforts at improvement.  As Bob Knight has observed, most of us have the will to win.  What succeeds is the will to prepare to win.

Practice begins with breaking performance down into component parts and keeping score with respect to all of those.  The most basic components of trading are:

1)  Generating ideas - How you define and employ a genuine edge in markets;

2)  Implementing ideas - How you actually trade the ideas you generate, including your sizing, risk management, entries, and exits;

3)  Self management - How you maximize your state of mind and body for optimal decision-making.

Each of these areas can themselves be broken down into subcomponents, so that you're drilling down to the level of best practices:  what you do in each area that is most responsible for your success.  Such a list can anchor daily/weekly score cards that allow you to evaluate yourself in real time, identify areas for improvement, set goals, and make corrective actions.

If you are not continuously keeping score and taking concrete action on the scores you receive, you can't be continuously learning and improving.  Writing in a journal is a great first step, but ultimately matters little if the journal entries don't guide concrete goal setting and efforts at improvement.

It boils down to this:  Are you doing things today that you will thank yourself for later?  Successful traders don't have a passion for trading--that just leads to overtrading.  Successful traders have a passion for self-improvement.  They are motivated to be more tomorrow than they are today.

Further Reading:  A Psychological Checklist for Traders