Sunday, February 09, 2020

Counterfeit and Genuine Confidence in Trading

Here's an observation I've made regarding developing traders I work with on a regular basis at SMB.  Because I've worked with them from the very start of their trading in most cases, I can clearly see what has led to their success and what hasn't.

The less successful ones start with stated confidence and want to bring what they know to trading.  

The more successful ones start with an awareness of what they don't know and bring an open mind to trading.

The less successful ones are undercapitalized and feel a need to become profitable quickly.

The more successful ones try different markets, time frames, and trading styles, make lots of mistakes, and gradually figure out what they understand and do well.

The less successful ones engage in minimal reviews of their trading and set very broad goals.  They do not keep statistics on their trading to monitor whether their goals are being met.

The more successful ones review their trades daily in great detail, actually re-viewing the trades made and how those could have been done better.  They use statistics on their trading to hold themselves accountable for their goals.

The less successful ones look to psychology to help their trading, as they get frustrated when they don't make money.

The more successful ones use their best trading to help their psychology.

The less successful ones talk about confidence in terms of the "setups" they are trading.

The more successful ones ground their confidence in their learning and trading processes.

The less successful ones develop a counterfeit sense of confidence based on how they have performed recently.

The more successful ones develop genuine confidence based upon the time and effort placed in the learning process.

Perhaps I can provide an example.  One trader sent me his monthly review of his trading.  It was two pages, had no specific reviews of trades, had no detailed statistics on his trading, and finished with a general goal to be more selective in the taking of trades.  Another trader sent a review for the same month.  It ran over 200 pages.  It detailed every trade made, what was done well, and what could have been done better.  The first trader meets with me occasionally.  The second one has been meeting with me every week, focusing on the most recent lessons learned and improvements made.  The first trader is looking to make money.  The second trader is like the flower:  just blooming.

My son Macrae and I have been taking lessons in archery.  It's an interesting sport; one I've never given much thought to.  A big part of success is learning the correct form for each phase of the shooting process and then replicating that form with precision.  There are adjustments to be made when changing distance, changing targets, etc., but the key to success lies in unusual self-control.  Psychology is important to archery performance, particularly in stilling the mind and staying focused on the target.  But psychology cannot substitute for good form and continuous learning and  practice.

So it is in the trading world.

Further Reading: