Friday, June 15, 2018

Distraction: The Hidden Enemy of Good Trading

What if traders miss good trades and impulsively take bad ones, not because they are emotional, stressed, frustrated, or lacking in discipline, but because they are too distracted to maintain the focus needed for effective pattern recognition?

What if your trading environment not only does not bring out the best in you, but actively distracts you from what you need to be focused upon?

What if *how* you are working is precisely what prevents you from achieving your potential?

Some savvy traders have recently pointed me to a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport.  The author refers to deep work as professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes our information processing capabilities to their limit.  The important idea here is that we need to be in a heightened state of focus to reliably formulate and execute plans and also to exercise our creative capacities to see opportunities others are likely to miss.

It is when we are in the heightened state of concentration that we find our cognitive second wind and enter into the flow state we sometimes call "the zone".  Initially, concentration is taxing.  It's easy to become fatigued and move to other activities.  If we can sustain the focus, however, we hit that point of second wind where we're capable of doing deep work.

Multiple screens.  Ongoing chats.  Talk on the trading floor.  Tracking indicators, markets, news...all of these contribute to distraction and keep us out of our zone.  As Newport points out, the difficult truth is that we have to make friends with boredom if we are to enter and stay in our zones.  This is why so much quality writing and artwork is performed in solitude. 

How much solitude do you experience in your trading?  In your life?

How deep is your work?

Perhaps the reason you're not finding opportunity in your trading is because you are not in the right cognitive mode.  If you were to skim the surface in all your conversations, you would never build a meaningful relationship.  Is our relationship with markets all that different?

Further Reading: