I was a freshman in college. Naive and curious. Lived in one state my entire life. Grew up in a huge Catholic Hispanic family.
He was three years older. Well-traveled. Calm and confident. Disarmingly great sense of humor.
He had a map of the world stuck full of push pins on his college dorm room wall. He studied at a desk he made out of a door and two file cabinets. He had a table full of books. Books on trading and writing and history.
I tutored him in Spanish. He recommended a little stock to me called IOMEGA that helped me make it through college.
This guy was different. He stayed home writing and trading while his dorm mates partied and puked in trashcans. And somehow, we just fit together.
Five years later, we got married.
It’s still a toss up on which was the bigger risk. Me, investing my financial aid money into IOMEGA. Or him, marrying a first-born Catholic, Hispanic girl.
So far, both risks have worked out.
Since I was 19, I’ve watched my husband, now a full-time trader and entrepreneur at work. I’ve seen him take risks. I’ve seen him mess up at times.
I’ve watched how he’s developed the behind-the-scenes discipline and courage to take the life changing risks.
Over the past 20 years, creating a life around risk and uncertainty has been our journey. Creating a business around this first love of the stock market has been our journey. For many of us, we put the brakes on when risk shows up in life. Maybe we’ve been burned in love or career or childhood. We put up our shields. We play small and stay small. I have often.
Fear of risk protects us and it shackles us. Unless we learn to master it.
How about instead of putting on the brakes, we learned how to lean into risk and navigate our circumstances up or down?
Taking risks is learning to manage the edge of where fear meets possibility. If I think about it, I’m married to a guy who is in a profession that asks him to daily manage that edge.
In my marriage to a trader, I’ve learned to navigate, break down and manage some of the elements of risk. I’ve seen my husband and other traders learn to balance these spaces:
REBELLION- INTUITION- STRATEGY- KNOWLEDGE
REBELLION – (noun) the action or process of resisting authority, control or convention.
To be a trader, you have to let go.
You have to be comfortable with a level of independence and autonomy and self-governance. You have to see opportunities where others don’t, and not fear taking them. You often have to go against the trend.
Rebellion is a double-edged sword. The instinct you need to take action in the markets is the same instinct left unchecked that can kill you in them. Your state of being is everything.
Success in the markets is like peaceful rebellion.
It is learning to stay grounded in your unique position. Yet, it is having the capacity to flow with the circumstances you find yourself in.
Ask yourself, why are you trading today? Are you pissed? Are you euphoric? Do you have something to prove? Are you in a state where you feel like YOU?
If you aren’t, and are in a negative rebellious energy, go to a golf course, go the the gym, go drive race cars. Do yoga. Get it out. But don’t get it out on the market. Don’t get it out on your marriage either.
INTUITION – (noun) the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
Has a market move ever just felt good or you just have a hunch about a stock without researching why? Yes, my husband has too. And he’s been annihilated.
In trading, some clients feel my husband has some superpower. Some hunch. Some intuition about the markets. My observation is that his seeming intuition in the markets is simply trust in himself gained over time. It is trust in his ability to make a decision.
Strategy + Knowledge + Pulling the risk trigger = Experience. Through trial and experience, we gain a more intuitive trust in ourselves. We cultivate our intuition. We learn to listen to and filter the information at our disposal to create a knowing and decisiveness. Acting on a hunch is different from cultivating your intuition.
STRATEGY – (noun) A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future.
Many of our clients have had a degree of success in another field or role first. Tech, medicine, law, real estate, parenting – disciplines that all involve a plan and persistence.
Whether you are a lawyer, a doctor, an IT director or a parent, you have a method. You have a way of doing what you do, that you repeat, that makes you successful. You create your unique method for consistent performance. You observe your results and adjust your course, often automatically.
Trading involves doing this everyday, consciously. The markets will seek out those without a strategy. It will sniff out the folks going into the arena without a plan. It will seduce and play you just like my five year old will when he knows I’m off my parenting game.
In creating your strategy, a huge hinderance is over thinking. I’ve seen traders fret long and hard about which content provider, stock or style to follow. The Power of Decision by Raymond Charles Barker states,
“Every failure motivated mind has been an indecisive mind. Only the dreamer who acted with decision on his dream brought forth something new and valuable.”
Follow your curiosity and choose paths or strategies to follow that interest you. Decide.
Give yourself enough practice and runway to test and find your method. There is no one-size-fits-all in trading success. You will develop more and more strategies as you gain skill.
Decide on what makes sense, don’t over think it and practice at your craft. I imagine trading is a lot like writing, or any other profession. At the end of the day you are alone with yourself in your decisions. But if you can’t start with one decision – nothing else is possible. For me it’s what to write. For traders it’s what to trade.
Then, be honest with yourself. Be honest in your accountability to your strategy. If you aren’t entering the arena each day with a strategy, then you are handicapping your chances for success.
KNOWLEDGE – Noun. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education.
There is a term in Zen Buddhism called beginner’s mind. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level.
I recently observed my husband at a trading event our company hosted this month in Austin, Texas. I watched him give a bunch of talks and coach others during live trading. Then I watched him in the back of the room, listening to other traders, taking notes.
He is in a constant state of learning. He recreates beginner’s mind.
The attitude of humility and growth is the same attitude that creates perseverance and joy in trading.
Trading is cultivating a skill not just growing a bank account. You would not expect to make one million dollars in any other profession without honing your skills and knowledge. If that’s what you want, do it once, and then go home.
For traders wanting to learn to master the trade, learning is not static. You may get frustrated because you feel you don’t know enough. Give yourself some grace and pace in your learning curve. Focusing on consistency of practice can be more powerful than trying to cram too much information.
I’ve watched my husband put thousands of hours into his profession.
He’s put thousands of hours into the technical, mechanical and strategic understanding of trading. He still makes mistakes. But when you put your hours in, and take care of your human state, you are going to get better at what you do.
You succeed at what you do.
What I’ve found being married to a trader, is that you create your relationship with the market. You create your relationship with risk.
The relationship you decide to create with RISK will define the kind of trader you are.
For my husband, the kind of trader I’ve seen him evolve into is:
The kind of trader that takes care of himself and his state of being.
The kind of trader that has perspective.
That kind of trader that doesn’t go into battle without a plan.
The kind of trader that never stops learning.
The kind of trader that trusts himself enough to take risks.
The kind of trader that envisions the big picture.
The kind of trader that can push the pause button and reset.
The kind of trader that surrounds himself with a community of people that are supportive and elevate their game together when the arena gets challenging.
It’s been a road of lots of learning and lots of risk. RISK is someone and something I’ve learned to love.
Best of luck in taking those risks in trading and in life.