Friday, April 22, 2016

The Essence of Trading

Trading is very competitive and you have to
be able to handle getting your butt kicked. 
Paul Tudor Jones
To a large extent, the Prudent Trader web-site, like most others that deal with the markets, concentrate on the intellectual sphere: all the things we can know and understand with our mind. We concern ourselves with concrete, rational, and scientific ideas, the ideas of technical and fundamental analysis, economic principles, and trading strategies. For sure, these tools, and the mental ability to apply them intelligently are absolutely essential to success as a trader, investor, or a speculator. But success as a whole, as a human being, takes more than a good brain. It also takes character!

Webster's dictionary defines character as "the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person." Ethics are evident in the code of values that guide a person's actions and choices. Do you choose honesty over lying, integrity rather than hypocrisy, productiveness over idleness? The process of making choices and decisions may be intuitive and hard to explain, but it always begins with your own personal sense of morality and ethics - your character.

Personality on the other hand, again from Webster's: "(1) the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual; (2) the totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional tendencies; (3) the organization of the individual's distinguishing character traits, attitudes or habits; (4) their disposition."

The reason trading is difficult, is that you cannot lie, hide, or rationalize failure. Reality is what it is. In most, if not all other profession's failure can be rationalized. A lawyer might say he had no case, a doctor might say he did all he could it was "in the hands of God", but in both cases they get paid. However at the end of a trader/investors report period, be it a day, a month, or a year he will either show plus or minus capital. There are no excuses, traders don't get paid for failure.

"The symbol of all relationships among (rational) men, the moral symbol of respect for
human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws." Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon (New York: Meridian, 1988)

This is the essence of trading. Understand it, accept it, or pass on this profession!

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