So said Vince Lombardi a former NFL coach and whilst the quote is directed towards athletic endevour it can be equally applied to any manner of performance based activity that tests the individual.Over the past few months I have noticed this exact same phenomena in trading – the fatigue of several years of sideways markets has made cowards out of many. A lot of people I know who I thought had the right stuff have given up either entirely or are so damaged emotionally by a few difficult years that they might as well have given up. The interesting thing about giving up is that most people give up at the bottom of cycles not at the top. This raises the question as to why they give up at the bottom and the simple explanation is that that when tested they were found wanting. Life tests people in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of ways people manage to fail not because of any external factor but rather because that is who they are.
The wonderful thing about trading is that it asks nothing of you other than honesty and commitment. You are honest with yourself regarding your own failings and committed to changing them so that tomorrow is different from today.
Consider the chart below of the NYSE cumulative New High-New Low index.
This chart tells me something and it is something very important. In the US there are more stocks going up than down – this may or may not translate to our domestic market but it tells you something about a market. And it provides you with an opportunity but, with many the fatigue of a few tough years has made them cowards so they cannot see this chart. All information they receive is filtered to bolster their inaction, to support their reasons for doing nothing. To do something would confront their fear and that’s the last thing they want to.
In trading we often talk about systems, tools, software and trading platform but we often miss one essential ingredient and that is courage. Being a trader requires a special sort of courage that most people don’t have and most people who aspire to a being trader don’t have it. Courage is not only the ability to keep going but to keep going by yourself. As a case in point we have someone who did the mentor program a few years ago and who is now a leading light on US stocks within the mentor graduates. This women lives in the arse end of Queensland where I think they still worship Joh Bjelke-Petersen and dont have tv (at least not in colour).
She made the decision to become a gun in US stocks by herself and is now dragging others along with her (and its friggen brilliant to watch). You could make the case that she had the support of the mentor program but so too have many others and they have not made such an impact. Being lead by others only gets you so far, after a certain point you are on your own. As a counterpoint to this we have a graduate of the mentor pgoram from a decade ago who is yet to place a trade. The reluctance to place a trade comes from cowardice – this person cannot stand that there is no perfect system.
Remember the person who gave up…….no one else does either.