Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You are always a student in this game

I got an email the other day from another trader who was talking about his preferred setups that he looks to trade, as well as touching upon previous correspondence we had about psychology and risk. Then he said something which deserved further comment:

"Just to be clear......I realize very clearly that I am the apprentice in these musings of mine and you are the master. My performance is a reflection of my lack of credibility."

While flattering, that statement is also completely wrong! All that can be said is that I happen be a bit further along the same journey.

As far as I am concerned, EVERY successful market participant remains a student of the market and its participants. They also are students of themselves. No one ever masters trading - all you can do is strive to make continual improvement. The Japanese have a term for this:


"I am a self-taught trader who is continually studying both myself and other traders." - Ed Seykota

No matter how successful you are, you can always improve. Therefore, you should continue to study both the markets, other traders AND yourself.

As a comparison, look at elite sportsmen - ever increasing numbers seek the assistance of specialist coaches, psychologists or mentors to help them improve. No matter what they have achieved in the game, the day they stop striving to improve is the day they start declining.

None of those sportsman are too proud or have such a big ego to say no one can help them improve further. We have seen the example in men's tennis over the last couple of years of the rise of the "Super Coach". The top players of the modern game have attempted to tap into wealth of knowledge from the greats of the previous generation. Roger Federer has Stefan Edberg. Novak Djokovic has Boris Becker. Andy Murray had Ivan Lendl. The common denominator is that they are all looking for something that will help give them an edge.

In trading, it has always been that way. Just a flick through a book like Market Wizards proves this. Bruce Kovner had Michael Marcus. Marcus himself learned from Ed Seykota. Marty Schwartz had Bob Zoellner. Many trend followers from an earlier era studied and learned from Richard Donchian. And so it goes on.

Those traders went looking for advice from successful peers or others who could help them, and soaked it up like a sponge. Most importantly, they acted upon what they had discussed and learned. It help give them a pathway towards success. We even had the recent admission from Paul Tudor-Jones that he had sought the advice of self-help guru Tony Robbins for the last twenty years.

All these people had the desire and commitment to continually improve themselves and their performance.

I do not personally know any Market Wizards, so I go looking for the most successful traders I can find, who trade in a manner similar to me. I follow a relatively small number of people on Twitter. Why do I follow them and not others? Simple, because their basic ideas and beliefs about the markets are similar to my own, and/or they have a strong appreciation for risk management or having the correct mindset.

In short, I can learn from them, or get the occasional reminder of an important concept or element of trading that I may have temporarily overlooked. If they did not help me in my quest to improve, then I wouldn't follow them - it's that simple.


"It is a happy circumstance that when nature gives us true burning desires, she also gives us the means to satisfy them. Those who want to win and lack skill can get someone with skill to help them." - Ed Seykota

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