Thursday, March 24, 2016

Committing to Success

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: 
it is the courage to continue that counts. 
Winston Churchill
If there's a single belief that seems almost inseparable from success, it's that there's no great success without great commitment. If you take the time to look at successful people in any field, you will find they're not necessarily the best and the brightest, the fastest and the strongest. What you will find is that they're the ones with the most commitment. "To follow, without halt, one aim: there's the secret of success" - Anna Pavlova 

You see this in any field, even where natural ability would seem to have the strongest hold. What made Larry Bird one of the great basketball players? It wasn't speed, nor was it his jumping ability. He certainly was not graceful, often looking as if he were playing in slow motion. He succeeded because of a great commitment to success. He practiced harder, played harder - he simply wanted it more, and made the most of his skills. Tom Watson's (the great golfer) coach at Stanford once said he marveled at Watson, "I never saw anyone practice harder". It's the quality of the commitment that separates the good from great. 

At 15 a budding actress went to a dramatic school in New York and was thrown out for a lack of talent. Somehow, she always knew she would someday make it as an actress. She didn't give up. She was committed. Her name, Lucille Ball. When she married Desi Arnaz every studio and company said that Americans would never accept a girl like Lucy being married to a Cuban. So to prove them wrong, they put on a Mr. and Mrs. Vaudeville act. They were both committed. I'm sure
you know the rest. 

If you wish to be successful in the markets, first make a commitment to learn everything you can. Start building (if you haven't already) a good library, not only for learning but also for future reference. It sure would be a waste to spend your book money on donuts, don't you think? Seek out and become friends with people who are successful in the marketplace. Learn from them - ask questions. You will be surprised at their willingness to help. They may even learn from you, and they know that. Your questions may jog their memory or spark an idea. 

Successful people are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. That as much as anything else separates them from the pack. Of course it goes without saying, you do whatever it takes to succeed without harming another person.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

There is no Such Thing as Failure

If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. 
Jim Rohn
There is no such thing as failure. There are only results. Most of us have been programmed to fear this thing called failure. Successful people do not see failure. They do not believe in it. It does not compute. Successful people are not people who do not fail, but people who know that if they try something and it does not give them what they want, they have had a learning experience. They use what they have learned and simply try something else. They take new actions and produce new results. 

What is the one benefit, the one asset, you have today over yesterday? Experience! Some of you have not previously experienced a vicious bear market. Some of you, old enough, have experienced more than one bear market, and the action we see is not new. We have learned from the past, from our experiences. We do not fear the bear, but we respect him. People who fear failure make internal representations of what might not work in advance. This is what holds them back from taking the action that could ensure the accomplishment of their goals. Failure is something that is just not perceived by people who achieve. They do not dwell on it. They do not attach negative emotions to something that does not work. 
"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." William Shakespeare 
Winners, in the market and elsewhere, understand that if you try something and you do not get the outcome you want it's simply feedback. You use that information to make finer distinctions next time. That's why we analyze our investments, both good ones and bad ones, to make finer distinctions on what went right and what went wrong. It's feedback for next time. We learn from our successes as well as our failures. Buckminster Fuller wrote, 

"Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial and error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes." 
And I might add the mistakes of others. 

Take a minute to reflect on the five greatest so-called "failures" in your life. What did you learn from those experiences? Chances are they were some of the most valuable lessons you have learned in your life. Treat your trading in the same way, failures are merely feedback, lessons to be learned for finer tuning the next time.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Whatever Happens, Take Responsibility

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. 
Jim Rohn
A most important attribute of successful people and successful investors share is simply; no matter what happens they take personal responsibility. They operate on the belief that they create their world. The phrase you'll most often hear is, "I am responsible, I'll take care of it."

Most of you I am sure, at one time or another, have purchased a stock based upon the recommendation of a stockbroker, a friend, investment newsletter, or in the modern age a web site or web blog. I am also sure, that like myself, sometimes those ideas do not work out and result in a loss. Most stockbroker's, investment advisors, newsletter and web authors are honest, hardworking individuals. They are merely conveying to you what they honestly believe to be an outstanding investment idea or trade, at least at the time. The one, however, who has the ultimate responsibility is you. You bought into the argument, the idea, the concept; you bear the responsibility, regardless of the results. No one held a gun to your head when you acted. The position you are in, you created, if not by your physical actions, maybe by the level and tenor of your thoughts (fear and greed come to mind). 

If you don't believe that you're creating your world, whether it be successes or failures, then you are at the mercy of circumstances. Things just happen to you. You're an object, not a subject. If that is what you believe, its time to look for another culture, another world. Why be here if you're just the product of random outside forces? 

Taking responsibility is one of the best measures of a person's maturity. It is also an example of beliefs supporting other beliefs, a coherent system of beliefs. If you take responsibility, you are in control, and if you are in control, you will succeed. 
"Those who take responsibility are in power. Those who avoid it are disempowered" - Anthony Robbins. 
Dan Rather once said John F. Kennedy became a true leader during the Bay of Pigs incident, when he stood before the American people and said that the Bay of Pigs was an atrocity that should never have happened, and then took full responsibility for it. When he did that, he was transformed from an able young politician, to a real leader. He didn't choose to blame circumstances or advisors or anyone but himself.

By retaining responsibility, you retain the power to change the result you produce. The next time you have a bad trade, take personal responsibility for it, and learn from it. Avoid at all costs blame. Remember, it is not a failure, it is a learning experience, its feedback.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. 
Don't lose faith. 

Steve Jobs
When most young children are given a puzzle to solve or put together that is especially challenging, most will make a good effort at solving it, but if unsuccessful, will soon lose interest and abandon it. Some will even become angry at their failure to solve it and may throw a tantrum.

Contrast that with the experienced puzzle player (Editors Note: read experienced investor / trader) who proceeds to put the puzzle together with an air of certain confidence that they will complete it. They know that they have all of the pieces of the puzzle before them so it is only a matter of finding out which pieces work where and once that’s done the puzzle will be complete. Putting a piece in the wrong place is not a cause for concern, it is simply another step toward putting all of the pieces in their proper place.

I think of all the times in my life when I acted like a young child in dealing with the current markets or investing puzzle. Instead of turning over and trying the next piece, I got angry and walked away from the puzzle, seeing the puzzle as a problem instead of as an opportunity.

Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich, knew Thomas Edison and Henry Ford personally. He said of both men that the ONLY thing that was different about them from everyone else was their persistence. Which gives rise to an interesting thought. Where would our civilization be today if either man had treated his puzzles like the impatient young child?

If you don’t have all of the pieces of your puzzle on the table, then stop, identify them and get them on the table before proceeding. If, however, you’ve got them on the table, then take the approach of the experienced puzzle player (investor). When they don’t fit --- don’t quit --- try another piece or move them to another place. While you’re at it, learn another valuable lesson from great puzzle players. They don’t just enjoy completing the puzzle, they delight in putting it together.

Napoleon Hill thought Persistence was a pretty important key to success --- he used the word 97times in Think and Grow Rich and he devoted an entire chapter to it. Some of his wisdom includes, "The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on DESPITE all opposition, until they attain their goal. These few are the Fords, Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Edisons. There may be no heroic connotation to the word “persistence,” but the quality is to the character of man what carbon is to steel.”