I recently watched a movie: it’s called Peaceful Warrior and it’s inspired by the book written by Dan Millman.
The story goes: despite all of his success, college student and world-champion athlete Dan Millman is haunted by a feeling that something is missing from his life. Awakened one night by dark dreams, he wanders into an all-night gas station, meets an old man named Socrates and his world is changed forever. Dan begins a spiritual odyssey into realms of light and shadow, romance and mystery, toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him.
As a trader, I found an incredible amount of teachings from this movie that are going to help me during my journey and I’d be glad to share with you. So let’s start!
My favorite line is: “Throw the garbage and clean your mind”. Ask yourself why you want to be a trader. If the answer is simply to get rich quickly, then I’d urge you to think again.
Of course money is important. But for most professional traders it represents merely a score, a way to track your journey towards success. Your motivation and your vision about yourself should be something much bigger than just making cash.
So “throw the garbage”, stop watching TV, reading the newspaper, or following “get rich quick” gurus that promise you’ll become filthy rich in seconds, or give you a “quick fire” way to making money. Because in truth, nobody can give it all to you: the only answers that count are inside yourself and only you can find it!
A lot of you would have had the same experience as I did when I started trading. You probably did it the wrong way, with the wrong people, the wrong methodology and most of all, the wrong attitude.
When I started, I entered into a trading room. The guy running the trading room was also selling the software, created by him. I still remember the first conversation with this guy when I asked him: if I use your software and trade with you in the trading room, will I be able to break even after Year One? His answer was: of course, you will cover at least your living costs. To me that meant I would be able to trade for a living that very first year.
Well, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out how it actually worked out. I closed my first year with a loss (though thankfully only a small one, I was savvy enough to exit the trading room after seven months) and was forced to completely revaluate my business.
So if somebody tells you the same thing that I was told, that you’ll be able to trade for a living in your first year, then take a step back, and have a real think about the person telling you this. You may find that you’re better off looking for somebody else, for what they are telling you may be possible, but it is highly improbable – the statistics suggest only 5% of traders will achieve a profit in their first year.
It’s not all bad news though. If you work hard and become disciplined, you DEFINITELY will succeed. When? I cannot give you this answer. ONLY YOU KNOW IT. Tom Basso (Mr. Serenity in The New Market Wizards) took five years of consecutive losses before becoming one of the top traders in the world; so do not be discouraged early on.
Today, I see trading much more as a tool for self-improvement, to become a better human being, a tool to master myself and my emotions, to accept me when I don’t perform well, and to re-evaluate my values and beliefs.
For example, during my daily meditation process and NLP techniques, I discovered that I had a very negative value of the concept of risk. Why? Because I had a very conservative education where risk was considered the Absolute Evil. And guess how this value reflected in my trading? Not well, because I didn’t want to lose.
So, I realized that I needed to work on this value, to reframe this belief, otherwise I will have a very tough time trying to be consistently profitable as a trader. And no matter which methodology you use: if your top value is not losing, then your main focus is wrong.
Before trading, in the morning, I enjoy 30 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes of meditation in absolute silence. I find doing repetitive things like cleaning the house, running and swimming to be meditative as well, along with all the actions that allow me to be in the moment without thinking about the past, or even worse, the future.
But don’t just look to physical activity. Train yourself in every aspect of your life: the way you eat and what you eat, the language you use – always be optimistic. Avoid negative people, and refrain from watching the news on TV. Pay attention to correct physiology: the way you sit, the way you breathe, and use your peripheral vision to be aware of everything. Do not waste your energy.
The way you use your body, and therefore your mind, make a huge difference in the way you perceive reality. Do not make mistakes that a lot of traders do: trading doesn’t simply mean buy and sell. It’s much, much more. And you have to be ready for that. It’s a long journey towards mastering yourself.
Watch your mental processes, analyse your values and beliefs, and look for alignment with what you are doing, using valid techniques to shift beliefs if what you have does not support you. It requires realizing that most of the job to be done doesn’t involve the methodology, the buy/sell setup, the signals or even the new guru to follow: it involves just you and your capability to use the methodology you choose and adapt it to yourself.
It doesn’t matter which one you chose, it matters mostly on how you use it, avoiding internal conflicts with your beliefs.