The other day while looking at a sports show on TV I watched an interview with Holly Holm. If you are a sports fan, and those of you who aren’t please forgive the reference, you may remember that Ronda Rousey, former women’s undefeated bantam weight mixed martial arts champion who had obliterated all of her previous opponents by knocking them out in the first few seconds of the first round, was thoroughly trounced by Holly in a knockout. Now, even if you don’t like fighting or even sports for that matter, you can appreciate that when an undefeated champion with myriad first round knockouts enters the ring with a new challenger, all of the attention and the bets go to the champion. Well, as you might be saying right now…”all this is good but get to the point!” OK, here is the point. In the interview Holly was very gracious to her opponent and insisted that a rematch was and should be on the horizon. She also discussed her preparation for her upcoming fight and assured all listening that she was getting “ready” and making sure that she was in “top-notch”- shape. She had the intention and ability to focus on what-matters-most and to maintain clarity of purpose and be comfortable with discomfort. Sound familiar? Isn’t this, in principle, what you must do and how you must prepare to get the trading results you want?
Becoming comfortable with discomfort may seem a no brainer; you must put yourself on the line every time you pull up your platform just as the fighter must put herself on the line every time she steps into the octagon. Essentially, when you put your hard-earned capital at risk you are very much like Holly and Rhonda; that is, you are going into the trader trenches to face an adversary on the other side of the trade who is trying to beat you and take your cash. You must enter into a physiological and psychological position of power and personal control. This is scary, is it not? This is uncomfortable.
The prospect of going into that trading octagon feels just as chaotic, personally affronting and daunting as putting your dukes up to go at it physically. In other words, it is very uncomfortable but despite this discomfort you must maintain your composure in order to walk away from the trade moments later with a win and the knowledge that you went as far as you could, with all that you had. If you performed at your peak then you braved the urge to do something that was not in your best interests; you braved going against your need to be right; and, as you felt most vulnerable to breaking a personal promise you took a deep breath and questioned your underlying motives (limiting & irrational beliefs) thereby positioning yourself to get more data by letting the trade play out. This means that you didn’t second guess the plan and, therefore, you were positioned to learn more of what the trade could “teach” you. You were able to be “curious” enough about what would happen in order to later, in another trade under similar circumstances, use this knowledge to proactively and preemptively adjust your responses so as to eliminate bad behavior.
This data is the process coin of the trade. You’ve got to get and adroitly use the data… it’s all about the data! You can’t excel at anything important without the information –the data- of what it takes to perform well. For instance, with trading you must learn about the mechanics of the markets (charting, drawing levels, indicators, news, economic reports and platform idiosyncrasies, to name a few). That data is critical to your success. By the same token, you must gather data about your internal self; the images in your head and the limiting and irrational beliefs that create emotions which drive what and how you take action… or not! This data invariably must be tracked, measured, verified and documented in order to identify what does not work, and what does. The documentation is like a fulcrum with a lever. I believe it was Archimedes who said, “…give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” So, your documentation allows you to identify those issues, set-backs, urges and problem behaviors that are severely compromising your ability to resonate with reality and maintain a laser focus on what-matters-most in the trade. But, you can’t do this if you become so distracted by discomfort from the internal or mechanical noise that you continue to act erratically.
Being able to tolerate those uncomfortable moments that disrupt your equilibrium and cause you to chase trades, move stops and exit trades prematurely is paramount to becoming a consistently successful trader. Without the ability to tolerate and be comfortable with discomfort you will continue to reach for temporary relief (those rule violations mentioned above) which equates to doing things that jeopardize the results that you want.
Written by Dr. Woody Johnson, Online Trading Academy Instructor. Dr. M. Woodruff Johnson has actively and successfully traded stock options, forex and futures since 2000. He is the former Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente, Watts Counseling and Learning Center. He holds certifications in Accelerated Learning, Neurosensory Development and hypnotherapy, and he is a Certified NLP Master Practitioner. Dr. Woody is also an Associate Professor and teaches graduate psychology courses at Pacific Oaks College and Ryokan College. He has provided clinical staff services in hospitals and community clinics as well. He has a passion for helping others to achieve their goals and get the results in trading and life that they desire. Dr. Woody has been using mind/body healing techniques both professionally and personally with much success for many years. He is the author of “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”