I bought my first copy of Market Wizards almost 20 years ago and it remains not only the most read book in my trading library but also the most useful. In my early days I used to be an avid reader of trading books but most would get the once over and then get dumped in a corner and forgotten or they would go onto to perform a useful function such as holding one corner of a book case up.
Market Wizards never suffered this fate and still dragged out of the bookcase at least once a month when I have few spare minutes. The reason for this is simple – it contains brilliant stories of people who actually do what they say they do. It also presents a uniquely human face to trading. Often articles on traders focus on how much money they make or the luxury lives they lead. Market Wizards tells a different story because it looks at the early failures of its subjects and all participants are honest in examining their failings.
It is this relentless honesty that sets them apart from poor traders. Poor traders are the ultimate self-deceivers nothing is ever their fault. They are crap at trading because they have the wrong indicator, the wrong computer, the wrong broker – what they do have is the wrong attitude and a profound unwillingness to sit down and look at themselves and their own failures not just in trading but in all aspects of their lives.
We all fail – that is simply the nature of being human and the only way to avoid failure is not to do anything, which in many ways is the default human state. If I don’t want to fail at anything then I simply don’t do anything and if I do try something and fail then it can always be someone else’s fault since in today’s society it is never the fault of the individual.
If you have found yourself reaching into your excuse book after something has gone pear shaped then you may need to re-examine your motivation for trading or for that matter doing anything.
Consider this quote from Bruce Kovner
“[Michael Marcus – another top trader] taught me one other thing that is absolutely critical: You have to be willing to make mistakes regularly; there is nothing wrong with it. Michael taught me about making your best judgement, being wrong, making your next best judgement, being wrong, making your third best judgement, and then doubling your money.” – Bruce Kovner
How willing are you to make the mistakes necessary to fail and how willing are you to examine your mistakes.
PS: Interestingly Hedge Fund Market Wizards still sits only partially read on my tablet – to me it still seems to be an exultation of the ordinary. To date all I have got from it is that hedge fund managers are good at raising vast sums of money, generating ordinary returns and then charging enormous amounts for the privilege of doing so.