"Nuke" The Market to Go Your Way...
The Psychology of Successful Trading
A CTCN article contribution by Mr. Kent Calhoun
At a KCI trading seminar, I asked seminar attendees why they were attending the trade seminar. I stated if they thought the answer was to become a better trader, or to learn to make more money, to think again on a deeper level of understanding.
Most people attend seminars to pursue their goals and feel better about themselves. Many traders are dissatisfied with certain aspects of their lives, yet believe by obtaining valuable trading knowledge and taking action, they may improve the quality of their lives. Once traders become aware of why they are trading the stock market or commodities futures markets, their attitudes become more positive as they increase their levels of acceptance to new ways of trading the financial markets.
The Importance of Attitude - In the Webster's New World Dictionary the first definition of "attitude," does not mention "one's manner of acting, thinking, and feeling that shows one's disposition." The first definition is "the position or posture assumed by the body in connection with an action, feeling, or mood etc." Webster's implies that a person's actions and body posture expresses his attitude.
A person's attitude is the way he looks at life, and this is reflected in his actions and beliefs. People who believe life and people are basically good, have a positive attitude. The opposite applies to a negative attitude. How is your attitude? Your answers to two questions will define your attitude. How is the world treating you? If your answer was "good," then so is your attitude. If your answer was "okay," or you took a while to answer, then your attitude is about average.
If your answer was "badly," here is another attitude question. Do you expect good things to happen in your life? If the answer was "yes," then your attitude is good. If your answer was "no," then you should definitely not trade the futures markets. There is a strong correlation between expectations and results. If you expect negative results, then that's exactly what you will get, in the form of losing trades.
A person who expects negative things to happen in his life has a losing attitude, and is labeled a pessimist. Instead of dwelling on the future opportunities for success, the pessimist looks to his past failures as justifiable excuses for not making an effort to move forward with his life. The worst psychological aspect of being a pessimist is that the possibility of positive behavioral change has been eliminated.
To the pessimist, a glass of water is half empty, but to the person with a positive attitude, an optimist, the glass is always half filled. The optimist expects good things to happen in his life, because he is willing to take responsibility for the events that occur in his life. The assumption and acceptance of personal responsibility is the key difference between optimists and pessimists, and between successful and unsuccessful traders.
A positive attitude does not guarantee commodity futures trading success, but little success in life would be achieved without a person believing in positive results from their efforts. A positive attitude finds opportunities in the midst of failure, and is considered to be the psychological foundation from which all success is possible.
Think about this for a moment. Do people attempt to achieve goals they absolutely know they can not achieve? Or do people attempt to achieve goals they believe are within their ability? A person's probability of success is directly proportional to the belief in his own abilities.
Expectations create attitudes. When the nation's 100 largest corporations had their CEO's list the psychological characteristic they felt most responsible for their success, 93 of them placed the word "attitudes," as their first selection. High levels of peak performance and positive attitudes elevate one another to even higher levels, but the positive attitude usually preceded the actions.
The Cosmic Law of the Universe- There is one immutable Cosmic Law of the Universe, that has many different applications, "for every effect in life, there is a cause." This is sometimes called Socratic Law, since it was observed by Socrates over 400 years before the birth of Christ. The Bible recognizes this law as the "Law of Sewing and Reaping." It is recognized in physics as Newton's Second Law of Motion, for every action there is a corresponding reaction. Ralph Waldo Emerson called this the "Law of Compensation," given in his essay with same title.
Cosmic Law states we live in an orderly universe, which has specific laws that lead to success. For every effect there is a cause or series of causes that preceded it. If a person wants to achieve a specific effect, the individual needs to institute the causes to achieve the desired effect.
The Law of the Cosmos applied to individual psychology and trading states, "thoughts are causes, and conditions are effects." Winning and losing, and success or lack of it, are direct causes preceded by actions, or inaction's, which were in turn preceded by thoughts.
Expectations define attitudes, and attitudes dictate actions for any given set of conditions. Success is basically knowing what trading actions should be taken in any set of technical circumstances, and developing the iron-willed self-discipline to take those actions.
By the way, Socrates believed an idea could change the world, and taught this to Plato, who was the teacher of Aristotle. (Fortunately, Plato wrote down the teaching of Socrates, who never recorded his lessons.) Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great, who conquered the world.
The Four Steps to Trading Success - Only one person can give you success, and that is you. The most difficult step to success is the first one, which is total commitment to achievement of a specific goal. Commitment to achieving a specific goal is 51% of all trading success. It is very important for each person to decide what, and why and when a person wants to achieve any goal before making any trading commitment.
The second logical step to successful goal achievement is to acquire the education necessary to obtain the goal. Doctors go to medical school, attorneys go to law school to receive the education necessary to practice their trades. Successful traders must seek out educators, and try to learn from their instructional presentation of materials.
The third step is what Einstein labeled the most important step to achieve success - action! "All the knowledge in the world is useless without the ability to take action," as Albert Einstein pointed out. Step-3 applies the knowledge obtained in step-2 to real world situations.
There are two kinds of trading education, learning obtained from books and seminars, and knowledge obtained from the experiences that life teaches. Formal education may or may not teach an individual how to trade, but allows the trader to learn from the mistakes of others. This is a good learning experience, since it would take the trader a long time to make all the same mistakes. Education from real life trading experiences teaches an individual survival instincts.
The final step to achieve success is to apply analytical evaluation to the actions taken in step three. This places emphasis on repeating actions which produce the desired results, and examines closely what does not work. Once the reasons are clearly understood why some technical actions do not produce desired results, they should be adjusted, improved, or discarded.
Article Summary - Traders have learned the value of a positive attitude, and how important it is to have a trader game plan to achieve trading success. This presentation on the basic psychology of successful trading may leave the reader with the false impression that achieving trading success is an easy process. Not so. Unfortunately, three powerful negative emotions stand in the way of successful trading; fear, anger and guilt. These deeply internalized and intertwined emotions undermine trader's development of self-discipline, a vital necessity for success trading futures and other financial markets.
General George Patton stated, "a warrior's greatest asset is self-confidence," this comes from self-discipline. Understanding how the three negative emotions relate to trading, and managing their negative effects, so self-discipline may be achieved is the subject of an upcoming new trading article.