Trading as an Art Form
I started learning about myself and who I wanted to be when I decided to make music a full-time profession. I was in corporate America during the dot Com era of the early 90’s. After the 3rd computer sales organization closed on me I took a very hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. I had dabbled with music as a side line for a number of years and decided that now was the time to get serious about my craft.
Becoming a professional musician is not for the faint of heart (gee, where have I heard that before?) Going into it I had some romanticized ideas about being a musician and living the musician life. In full disclosure, there were some excellent perks to the gig. I got to play some interesting venues, meet and played with some great players, was the keeper of my own hours and generally had a great time. The down side was that the gigs didn’t always come through, venues were sometimes questionable, audiences were occasionally less than cordial and the money wasn’t always the best.
But through the trials and tribulations of being artistically and financially viable as a musician, I learned some very important lessons about who I wanted to be.
I learned about being in the moment. Not concerning myself with what was in the past and not worrying about what was in the future.
I learned that mistakes are only mistakes if you acknowledge them as mistakes. ‘Mistakes’ became a way for me to express myself in new and interesting directions. Sometimes they worked brilliantly and sometimes they were a complete and utter disaster. More times than not, the only people who could tell were my band mates and my wife.
I learned about not passing judgment. If I walked off the bandstand thinking I stunk up the joint inevitably someone would come up to me and express what a great performance they just heard.
I learned that perceptions are our own personal reality and often have nothing to do with the reality of the rest of the world.
So what do these lessons have to do with trading? Quite a bit. These are the exact lessons I needed to apply as a trader. When I’m asked, “when did you think you ‘made it’ as a trader?”, I have to say it’s when I realized that being in the moment, changing my attitude about ‘mistakes’, not passing judgment on my performance, and realizing that my perception of the market may not be reality were part and parcel to the success of being a trader. These are just as important as having a way of identifying opportunities, proper money management, and risk assessment (more on these topics at a future posting.)
The Art of Trading comes with the practice of these lessons. If a magic pill existed that allowed me to live in the moment, or change my attitude about mistakes, I would buy it in a heartbeat and stock up on the supply. For better or worse, I don’t know of such a wonder drug and therefore have to rely on myself to make those adjustments.
The good news is that those adjustments are possible but they’re not quick and they don’t come without sweat. Those adjustments are going to be a topic of future postings.