Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What Your Personality Strengths Mean For Your Trading

In this recent post, I offered a short personality assessment to help traders better understand their strengths.  The scoring of the assessment and meaning of the categories being measured were covered in this post.  I encourage you to take the quiz and score your results before reading the rest of this article, so that you can directly apply the findings to your trading.

We will call your top three strengths--the ones you identified as number 1, 2, and 3--as your "signature strengths".  These are the competencies that most fit with your self-image and capture you as you see yourself.

The next three strengths--numbers 4, 5, and 6--we call your "latent strengths".  These are areas that you draw upon but that aren't necessarily front and center in how you view yourself and in your day to day life.

As mentioned in the previous post, the remaining 12 areas that you didn't identify as your greatest strengths are not necessarily weaknesses.  They simply are less relevant to your ideal vision of who you are.

Now let's look at what these strengths might mean for your trading.  I will elaborate on these ideas in an upcoming Forbes article:

Your greatest vulnerabilities as a trader may come from overutilizing one or more of your signature strengths.  Imagine someone who developed great upper body strength in the gym and then continued to only exercise the upper body.  At some point, good development would become grotesquely unbalanced development.  Let's say, for instance, that you indicated "disciplined" to be your greatest strength.  And let's say you're so disciplined that you turn all your trading into automatic routines.  Would that make you a better trader when themes and trends in markets change?  At some point, too much discipline becomes rigidity.  Similarly, if we are overly "driven" and "competitive", might that interfere with needs at times to trade with patience and risk-prudence?

Your greatest vulnerabilities as a trader may come from not making optimal use of your strengths.  Let's say that one of your signature strengths is that you are "caring" or "helpful".  You are trading in isolation from home and experience little teamwork.  It's difficult to believe that the isolated trading environment would bring out the best of your learning, and it's easy to imagine that being in such an environment would feed frustrations that could interfere with your trading.

Your greatest growth as a trader may come from turning latent strengths into signature ones.  If we just pound away at those signature strengths, we'll eventually overutilize them as noted above.  And if an area is not at all a strength, will it really impact our trading in a meaningful way if we make that area incrementally stronger?  The "openness" strengths of loving variety, accepting others, and being intellectually curious have long been strengths of mine, but subordinated to those signature strengths included in "likeability" and "entrepreneurialism".  My greatest growth as a trader has been to expand my openness, learn new approaches to markets, and form new relationships with traders who are very different from me.  Turning latent strengths into core ones helped me approach myself--and my trading--in radically different and profitable ways.

You can learn a lot by taking the test a second time.  Here's a great exercise:  Imagine the person and trader you would ideally like to become.  Fill out the survey to describe your ideal self--that person you'd like to be as a trader.  Then take a hard look at the difference between your "real" self--who you originally described yourself to be--and your "ideal" self, who you would like to become.  Which strengths would you de-emphasize?  Which strengths would you grow?  This is a helpful way of defining goals for your personal and trading development.  Or switch it up!  Take the assessment and describe the person you were five or ten years ago.  The differences between your scores today and your scores for your past self might illuminate growth paths that you are already on--and suggest ways of extending those paths.

In my upcoming Forbes article (you can access past articles here), I'll talk more specifically about personality strengths and how those impact our trading styles and success.  The goal is to help you understand yourself as well as possible, so that you are setting the right goals and making the most of what you actually bring to markets.  We want to turn the development and leveraging of our strengths into a strength itself!

Further Reading: