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Attitude Check: Where Can You Improve?


Regardless of how long we have been trading, how large our account is or how proficient we may believe we are, we all have areas we need to work on.


I believe as traders we have to start thinking much more like athletes. Not necessarily in the competition sense, but in the continuous pursuit of excellence. Trading can be unlike any other profession out there. Whether you are full-time, part-time or just starting out, you should desire to improve your skills and achieve excellence.

In a general sense you are always working on your game, which is rather unique and different when compared to some other jobs or hobbies. However, there is one professional that definitely resembles a trader in their desire to improve: a professional athlete.

How often do you hear a professional athlete discuss a certain part of his or her game that they are working on, trying to improve as they seek to achieve excellence? Would it be odd to hear Tiger Woods say "I haven't been happy with my putting lately, I need to work on that," or Kobe Bryant say "I really need to step up my jump shooting"? Of course not! We expect to hear these things from professional athletes because it is all of these elements that are combined to make them the pro they are.

They love their sport and desire to be the best at it, so they are continuously trying to improve on any area that is suffering. I will never forget when Michael Jordan had broken just about every record set and had started collecting championship rings when the pundits starting discussing his defense. All of a sudden you heard things like "Yea, he can shoot, but his 'D' is weak." What did Jordan do? Well, he spent the next several months working on his conditioning and defensive skills only to come back and win the league's most valuable defensive player.

What is the best trading attitude to have and how can it help you succeed? Find out in Attitude Check: Where's Yours?, Overcoming the Fear Factor and Patience Is A Virtue.

As traders, I feel we need to always be thinking along these lines. I believe we always need to be working on something, improving upon something in order to continue our pursuit towards excellence.

Let me tell you a secret. Are you sitting down? Are you ready?

You will never be perfect. If you believe that you have "arrived" in trading, that when you sit down the heavens open and the angels declare that you are the greatest, then my friend, the humble stick... no, the humble bat is coming. Be careful.

Regardless of how long we have been trading, how large our account is or how proficient we may believe we are, we all have areas we need to work on. We should always be working on something. I will be sitting down at a dinner with fellow Tickerville Citizen Members in New York City in December. One question I will ask each of them is "What do you want to work on in the coming year?"

So what is your area or areas?

  • Do you find yourself getting stretched too thin, owning stocks you aren't sure why you do?
  • Do you find yourself panicking on down days, getting washed out of good stocks that go on to make significant gains without you?
  • Do you continuously sell winners and hold laggards?
  • Do you rush your buying rather than methodically track a stock and plan your entry and exit?
  • Do you get emotionally caught up in the good and bad?
  • Does your account value swing in a manner that simply is not prudent?
  • Do you stink at shorting?
  • Do you stink at buying?
  • Do you feel you have reached your limit?

Trading is a craft where we must think much more like athletes regardless of whether or not you have ever been one. Athletes are always analyzing their game and working hard to improve upon it. This weekend, when you have some time, take a few minutes and contemplate how your game is. Don't just view it from your P&L, but the entire game. Michael Jordan was winning championships but needed to improve on defense. Where do you need to improve?

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