Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Find Your Trading Talent

The recent post looked at trading success as a function of native talent and acquired experience and skill.  Because the exercise of talent is intrinsically fulfilling, we gravitate to activities that express our talents.  This exercise is what propels us through hours, days, weeks, months, and years of deliberate practice and skill acquisition.  Whenever we see unusual passionate motivation, we are likely to see the consistent expression of talent.  

Consider four dimensions of emotional well-being:

*  Happiness - Finding joy in life's activities
*  Satisfaction - Doing things that are meaningful and gratifying
*  Energy - Doing things that stimulate us mentally, physically, and emotionally
*  Affection - Building fulfilling relationships with others

When our life's activities provide us with these four elements of well-being, we are most likely to be productive and creative.  We're also most likely to be doing what we're good at.  Talent is one of the great sources of emotional well-being.

So if you're a developing trader, how do you know where your talents lie and what you're truly good at?

The simple answer is to examine what makes you happy, what provides you with meaning, what energizes you, and what brings you fulfillment with others.  Your talents are hiding in plain sight, bringing you your most positive life experiences.

Look to your passions and you will find your talents.

When I worked in Chicago, a number of successful daytraders were video game junkies.  They would spend hours in front of screens, trading actively, and then go home and go in front of screens and play actively!  Their talent was for hand-eye coordination and quick decision making, particularly in a competitive context.  Suppose I tried to turn them into long-term investors, researching the fundamental strengths of assets and creating balanced portfolios.  The activity would no longer express their strengths.  They would lose their intrinsic motivation.  They would likely become mediocre performers at best.

Conversely, a talented long/short equity manager I work with is a phenomenal detective, identifying value in places where others fail to look.  His great talents are intellectual curiosity and attention to detail.  If I were to try to turn him into a daytrader, he would find the activity utterly meaningless.  He could never sustain a learning curve.  It's no surprise that, before he started trading, he ran a successful eBay business as a young kid.  He was finding value and buying and selling it before he knew what the stock market was.

So often, talents can be found in the activities we choose to perform when we're not required to engage in activity.  No one has to tell me to rescue cats or write blog posts.  I don't have to get up at 4 AM daily to greet and feed my cats, follow overseas markets, and write my 4500th post to TraderFeed.  As Ed Seykota pointed out, it's not even that I have those talents.  Those talents have me.  

You will find your success, in life and perhaps in trading, by leveraging the talents that have you.  In leveraging our talents, we have the best chance of living a life filled with happiness, satisfaction, energy, and affection.

Further Reading:  Finding Opportunity Amidst Adversity