My Rude Awakening

I would like to share how I gained some insight, rather abruptly, not long after I was introduced to trading.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about the mindset of a successful trader was shared with me by a trading professional I met early on in my trading education.

He suggested to me that I view trading as “Financial War.” At the time I thought this was a bit extreme. However, he went on to describe trading as a “zero sum game” – that is to say for someone to profit, someone must lose. I have heard this several times since, but have no evidence as to whether or not this is true – and opinions vary.

He went on to say as he looked me straight in the eye . . . “if you are not going to take this seriously and do what it takes to figure this out, then just write the check directly to me right now, because I will be the one in the market taking your money.” He explained why 95% of traders lose money and that he absolutely counted on their laziness every day to make his seven figure income.

As harsh as those words were and as shocked as I was, the idea that any of this might be true motivated me to get serious. I could not stand the thought of being a wide eyed newbie and just handing my money over to the sharks like a sucker. I stopped trading, started over and found some very successful traders to emulate.

My trading education was not free. It cost a lot of time and money, and was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was more than worth it. Why was it so difficult? . . . because I had to work on me. I have been fortunate to have some success in my previous career, but nothing I previously knew correlated to trading. I was not prepared to enter an environment with no boundaries. It was equally difficult to believe that my emotions, which had been responsible for my previous business success, were now irrelevant from the market’s perpsective, and yet would also be the cause of my greatest challenges,

What I also learned is that almost anything free in this arena usually has no value – at least for me, no perceived value. There are exceptions, but very few. Through this journey I learned to ask questions only after I had exhausted all other means of research on my own. I learned that for me to be successful, I had to do the work. I learned that for me to have confidence, I had to put in the time to actually learn the skill of trading, not just how to trade. I learned that for me to call myself an expert or professional trader and make a living at trading, there were no short cuts.

I could not figure out why I originally thought trading would be any different than learning any other professional skill. Once I came to the realization that trading is no different, my approach totally changed. It became more natural, more relaxed, more focused, and more profitable. This was familiar to me – reaping the rewards of commitment and hard work. What I didn’t know when I began was that this is not a “feel good” warm and fuzzy environment. These folks in the market can and will eat you alive.

Just though I would share a defining moment. This guy really shook me up and got me laser focused. I owe him big time.


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