Saturday, August 20, 2016

What you can learn from Mark McCormack

Mark McCormack and Arnold Palmer

Mark H McCormack was a business pioneer. He created the International Management Group in the early 1960's - his first client was Arnold Palmer, closely followed by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

His involvement with 'The Big Three' helped create the popularity explosion in golf in the 1960's.

Over the years IMG became the name in sports management, marketing and promotion before branching out into other areas such as TV production.

In the early 1980's he distilled his knowledge and experiences into the best selling book What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School.

I have only just started reading this, but became across the following paragraph which is highly applicable to trading psychology and your mindset:

Be detached

"If you can force yourself to step back from any business situation, particularly one that is heating up, your powers of observation automatically increase. When the other person gets a little hot under the collar, he or she is going to be more revealing than at almost any other time. If you come back with an equally heated response, you will only be less observant, you will be revealing just as much about yourself.

I am practically a missionary for the importance of acting rather than reacting in any business situation.

Acting rather than reacting allows you really to use what you have learned. It allows you to convert perceptions into controls. By reacting, by failing to step back first, you are probably throwing this powerful advantage away.

If you don't react you will never over-react. You will be the controller rather than he controlled."

While as traders we are not negotiating a business deal, and therefore are not directly faced across a boardroom table by a single person, we are faced by another adversary - the market, which is the sum of all other traders, investors and market participants.

While your chosen method of trading may be reactionary in terms of waiting for a signal based on price (such as trend following), psychologically we need to remain in control and avoid reacting negatively to what is going on at all times. 

Traders need to have an emotional indifference towards their trading. As McCormack says, by 'stepping back' from a situation, you become more observant, more objective. Everything becomes a little clearer. It can help you stay in control.

When you are in an existing position, it is all too easy to become caught up in every tick that the market makes which may go for or against you.

What you want to avoid at all costs is making some emotionally driven decision or an 'over-reaction' to what you see. Do what McCormack says  - resolve to stay in control of your decision making (i.e. follow your rules), and step back before potentially compounding a bad situation.

If you don't, then you will be revealing your worst habits that will be impacting on your performance as a trader. Leave these unchecked, and they could develop into a self-sabotage process.

One other key point that McCormack recommends, which can easily be translated from the boardroom to the trading arena - be a good listener. Traders can be prone to try and impose themselves upon the market. That is doomed to failure. Listen (and observe) what the market is telling you, within the framework of your own entry and exit rules.

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