Today I came across the following quote from a former Americas Cup skipper, which is so true when applied to trading:
"You cannot outperform your self-image".
How you see yourself, as well as how to talk to yourself, has a huge impact on how you perform as a trader. Having an underlying confidence in yourself, the method you choose to follow, as well as the knowledge you have a robust risk management plan in place will undoubtedly help in this regard.
The best analogy I can think of, which I can relate to, is a golfer who is playing a narrow hole with out of bounds down one side. Just before they take the club back, the very last thought that pops into their mind is "make sure you avoid the out of bounds". Where do you think the ball ends up going more often than not? There then follows a conversation with your inner self that goes something along the lines of "You stupid idiot - what did you do that for?", further accentuating the anger, frustration, and general feeling of negativity.
Compare that to a different golfer, who is proficient and confident in their method. Standing on the same tee, their thought process will be something like "Pick your target, aim on that target, and let your swing go". They are focusing on a process, a routine that has stood them in good stead in the past, and trusted themselves to achieve the desired result. Quite often when watching top golfers on the TV, you can hear their caddies saying the same things, accentuating the positives, and to trust what they are doing. You will also notice that their players never hit the shot until any indecision or negative thoughts have been put to one side, leaving them with a positive mental attitude.
It should be clear to even non-golfers that the second player would enjoy a greater degree of success over the longer term.
I am also reminded of trading legend Ed Seykota's most famous quote from his Market Wizards interview "everyone gets what they want out of the market". Having a self-image of failure or bad luck will almost condemn that particular trader to a struggle to stick to their entry and exit rules, their risk parameters, and a general lack of confidence of what they are trying to achieve, and how to go about attaining the desired results.
Almost everyone who has been successful in life, whether it be in business, domestic and home life, sport or anything else has created a positive mental attitude which allows them to succeed, and not create any potential barriers to achieving their goals. Exactly the same should apply to your trading.
Now, how do you see yourself?