Thursday, November 17, 2016

Character and Trading Success

Character reflects who we are as people:  our deepest values, priorities, and strengths.  Talent and skill leads people to do things right.  Character is about standing up for and doing the right things.  I am struck by how long-term success in financial markets often reflects character.  Doing the right things leads people to not blow up; it leads them to attract the right people; it inspires loyalty.  When I was doing recruitment interviewing at a hedge fund, I recall candidates talking about themselves, pounding on what made them special.  They wanted to display confidence.  Instead, in their exclusive me, me, me focus, they displayed a questionable character.

Character shows up when trading the money of others.  It shows up in one's dealings with peer traders.  The truly great basketball players make their teammates better; true leaders act on principle even when that is not the most immediately popular or expedient course.  Character means we stand up for what we believe and act in a way that is consistent with our highest values.

We can train skill, but character is built upon role modeling.  The character of those we're closest to is likely to reflect our own character.  It's one thing to journal about whether you traded well or poorly, whether your psychology is positive or not.  A different focus would be to consider your character and whether it's truly being expressed in your market-related dealings.  We don't have to discipline ourselves to do the right things if those right things are intrinsic to who we are as people.

Further Reading:  Why Character Matters