Saturday, August 08, 2020

How Do You Handle Adversity?


It is said that adversity doesn't build character; it reveals it.  When the sh*t hits the fan and everything is going against us, we learn a lot about ourselves.  

When power went down in our region and we were left without telephone, internet, or cable service, I wondered how I would work with traders.  Everyone was working from home, which meant that my only ways of connecting with them had been taken away.  A fleeting thought went through my mind that I could cancel all my meetings.  As soon as the thought entered, I rejected it.  I was not going to give up.  I drove my car to various towns in the area until I found a spot with a solid internet connection.  I kept my phone charged with the car battery and downloaded an app that allowed me to do face-to-face meetings with minimal bandwidth demands.  Instead of working from home, I discovered work-from-car!

Similarly, when everything went down in the recent storm, I received encouragement from Margie and together we figured out how to use a portable generator and connect it to major portions of our house.  I have minimal mechanical skills--I actually tested as learning disabled with respect to performance tasks as a child--but I was not going to be a victim of the storm, and I was not going to let Margie down.  

In both cases, adversity brought out a latent strength, a quality I have, but do not always draw upon:  persistence in the face of challenge.  I refuse to let circumstances control me.  That refusal gives energy and leads to creative solutions I would have not pursued otherwise.

Recently, I've noticed significant differences in how traders handle adversity, whether it's a losing trade, a missed opportunity, a drawdown, etc.  The really good traders refuse to let the setback control them.  They view and re-view their trading and they make sure they drill the learning lessons in their head.  They miss an entry, but they don't give up on the idea.  They don't simply place a revenge trade; they become even more focused as a result of the missed trade--and that allows them to find another way to participate.

That's really it:  adversity can disrupt us, or it can focus us.  It can lead us to withdraw and seek comfort, or it can push us to dig deep and draw upon our latent strengths.  The concept of sisu suggests that each of us possesses a second wind of energy that we can access during periods of challenge.  Might it be the case that the winners in life's race are those with the greatest capacity to draw upon that second wind?  Perhaps by continually placing ourselves in challenging circumstances, we can cultivate the sisu--the access to hidden strengths--needed to perform at our best when we most need to perform.

Further Reading: