What Are The Requirements for Elite Trader Performance?
In one of blogs that I follow, a discussion has arisen asking the question if trading can be taught or is it reserved for a small group of special individuals that possess some innate ability. My feelings, not surprisingly, fall into the camp that trading is a teachable skill that anyone with the desire can master.
And that desire is really what separates the “successful” traders from the wannabes. As with any laudable skill, playing a musical instrument, performing the perfect layup, executing the perfect golf swing, the talent to perform a skill are only second to the hard work needed to perfect that skill. Talent can take you so far but what separates the truly elite are the hours spent learning their particular craft.
The only exception to the trading world is that unlike the arts or athletics, where the environment doesn’t change, the environment of a trader is constantly changing. For example, I learned to play the saxophone when I was in high school and the notes of the instrument are still in the same place to this day. How I use those notes, or what might inspire me to play one note over another will vary, but the mechanics of what I’m doing haven’t changed and I count on that consistency to be able to play.
I can’t make the same claim about trading. The market environment that I learned to become a trader in 2002 is very different today. And the environment is constantly changing depending upon people’s perceptions. The “tools” that we use as traders; indicators, oscillators and the like, are just feeding us back information that has already happen. The “constant” to a trader’s success is within the trader themselves. Its our ability to adapt ourselves to the market environment. How we are going to use those tools becomes more important than what tool we’re using.
And that’s why it’s even more important to be willing to spend the extra time to practice how we, as traders, are going to react in certain situations. Giving yourself the permission to find your “sweet spot” comes with many hours of, what Christine Carter, PhD from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center calls “grit.” In her article for Psychology Today entitled A New Theory of Elite Performance, she talks about how deliberate and persistence practice over time is a greater measure of someone’s success than any innate ability.