The Cycle of IT
Thanksgiving, as we all know, is the one day of the year where we all reflect on what we are thankful for and the really important things in life, love and family. It is a day where most people really take time to understand how fortunate we all really are. Now, think about that very moment when you were sitting at the dinner table and everyone was going around the room telling your family what they are thankful for. Think about how you felt… Now, imagine if you could feel like this all the time for the rest of your life…
It is time to revisit a piece I wrote a while back. Don’t worry, this is not simply a rehashed article, there is plenty more in “The Cycle of It, Part III.” I have been in the trading and trading education world for many years. This has allowed me to watch traders grow at different levels and reach different levels of success, and failure. I have often wondered and speculated on the difference between those who achieve success and those who fail. For me, the answer lies in the proper definition of success when it comes to trading, or any occupation for that matter.
Let me explain a scenario that I have experienced so many times with individuals going through trading education. There was a gentleman back in 1999, whom I met at a trading seminar. He walked up to me before it started and introduced himself. He had been reading my daily trading advisory letters and was very excited to meet the face behind the letter and take the seminar that I was giving. He explained that he had a family and that trading was going to be “IT” for him. He wanted to make lots of money from trading and do it for a career. After the seminar, he thanked me and could not wait to get home and get started on his quest for “IT.” A couple weeks after the seminar, he sent me an email and said he was doing well, but he said, “Sam, if I could only take all my stop losses according to plan, I would really make “IT.”” Time went by and I contacted him months later and asked him if he made “IT?” He said yes. I said, “How is IT?” He said “IT” was good. He then said that if he adjusted his rules a bit and added a moving average for a trail stop, he could hold on for larger gains and really make “IT!” More than a year went by before I heard from him again and when I did, I asked him the same question, did you make “IT?” He said he did. I asked him how “IT” was and he said “”IT” was good.” He also added that his marriage was falling apart and he did not know where things were going in his personal life. He also added that he only needed to make a little more money from trading than he did from his day job to quit the day job. This would finally be “IT,” this would save his marriage, his family…
Let me let you in on something I realized long ago. “IT” is never “IT.” The “IT” cycle will have you chasing an illusion of happiness your whole life in many forms if you let it. If you are looking for “IT,” the real “IT” only exists in a much grander vision. This grander vision will meet all your needs and become “IT” for you. I want to invite you into a simple reality that most consistently profitable market speculators share. They are not looking for trading to be “IT” for them. They have a much grander vision. The best traders I know spend very little time trading and spend less time talking about trading. They make plenty of money trading and they use that money to feed the grander vision. One person I know who has done very well in trading bought three vacation homes on a lake all next to each other. He has a family with many kids and invites families who would not be able to afford to do this to stay at these vacation homes in the summers. His life is all about his family; that has always been his grander vision. Because of this, he is not looking to change or improve his trading strategy; he does fine. In fact, he never talks about his strategy, he would never waste the time as he is too busy with his grander vision. I know his strategy and let me tell you, I see many people come out of the Online Trading Academy classes with better strategies that don’t make money because they are always looking to improve the strategy so they can really make “IT.” People who keep changing their trading strategy and keep taking more and more seminars and read more and more books never make it in trading. They are always looking for the artificial “IT,” not the real one. From what I see, the successful people at Online Trading Academy become passport members, take the classes, and then go and run the strategy they have developed from the education. They don’t rush off to take more and more seminars and courses. The group that has taken every trading course around the world and has read every trading book written is typically not the group that makes money trading, this is the group that typically pays those who have a grander vision.
In trading, the best outcome each day is more money in your account. If you keep striving for more money, you will never be happy because you will never have all of the world’s money. How many times do men and women get into relationships because they think that partner is “it” for them? They are counting on that partner to make them happy and fill all their needs and voids. These relationships always fail because the other partner will never meet these expectations. So much pressure is put on that partner to be “it” for that person. Trading is not all that different. The pressure people put on themselves with unrealistic expectations is simply setting them up for failure.
Recently, as I was flying over the Arabian Desert on my way to Dubai, I was watching a Disney documentary called “Oceans.” It is a fascinating documentary about the world’s oceans and the life within them. While there are many documentaries about the oceans, trust me, you have never seen one like this before; Disney did a great job. There is a scene in the movie that shows a family of three Walruses, two parents and their offspring. It was just the three of them playing together in a massive body of ocean water. Then, everything began to slow down, the playing stopped and the three came together and just held each other with the young one softly nestled between the parents. They were all floating in their world, just holding each other. At that moment, my world paused as well. It was such a moment of love and family. I realized that all they had their whole life was each other and the natural surroundings they shared which basically consisted of ice and water. They looked so happy and at peace. It was at that moment that I asked myself who has the better life, them or me? After all, I was the one sitting in a metal tube breathing a mixture of jet fuel and oxygen on my way to a city famous for its metal buildings and artificial this and that. First-class on an International flight all of a sudden meant nothing to me. I was the one away from my family and the things in life that are most important to me. I was actually envious of the Walrus family and what they had at that moment. They didn’t care about a good or bad economy or some economic report. They were not interested in the next iPhone, iPad, iTouch, iPod, or the full iLife that so many people are lining up for. Their mood was not shaped by the next up or down tick in the S&P. Money, markets, metal, and plastic have absolutely no impact on them at all. Can you imagine a world where your happiness is completely detached from these things? Their world had not been poisoned by the artificial Cycle of “IT.”
Why do I trade? The focus for me is the grander vision, not attempting to attain all of the world’s money. THIS is what allows me to run a simple and successful trading strategy year after year after year. I have not changed one thing about how I trade in many years. The income from trading allows me to feed my grander vision. I have played hockey all my life and still play in the most competitive leagues around. I also coach kids’ hockey and that has been great for me. Many of these kids can’t afford to do certain things that will benefit them. Trading allows me to dive into these kids’ lives and expose them to things some of them could not afford to do on their own. For example, I don’t have an iPod but could afford one. Instead, I felt much better buying these kids 1-year family memberships to the fantastic museums in Chicago. Hhmm, loud music in my ears or exposing a child to some of the best science, art, and history museums in the world? If I wanted the iPod, I would also want the iPhone, and the iCar, and the iLife… You see, “IT” never ends and in the trading world, this thought process will drain your account. Instead of buying the latest power computer, my grander vision had me buy the Dr. Seuss series of books for a local school in the area that didn’t have a budget for new books. My grander vision is making a difference in the life of children which will end up making a positive difference in the world. That is what I spend some of my free time doing. This just so happens to also allow a successful trading strategy to run, there is no pressure of better numbers and more dollars.
The next time you have a few minutes and you are about to tweak that trading strategy because your strategy while profitable, may not be allowing you to really make “IT,” understand that “IT” is never “IT” if you’re focused on the artificial “IT.” You are likely chasing something that does not exist. You’re walking east and west trying to find the North Pole. Instead, open your mind to the possibility of a much grander vision which has nothing to do with trading. In doing this, you may just find that the grander vision is what finally allows you to execute your successful strategy with disciplined precision for the rest of your life. More importantly, this grander vision is where you will find the real “IT.”
What if you are not a consistently profitable market speculator yet? Don’t give up! Remember, most of your failures could have been converted into success if you had continued on for a short time longer or made a little more effort. With a positive attitude, you are ready for all the adversity and short-term defeats that lead to success. You see, adversity is really a stepping stone requirement along the path to success. Without the positive attitude, adversity more often than not leads to failure. When you eliminate failure as an option and remove all escape routes, you will be surprised how fast you figure out how to succeed. What about Thomas Edison? He attempted to create the electric light bulb only to fail 10,000 times. How did he press on with so much failure? That all depends on how you define failure… He viewed each failure as a very positive step in his quest because with each failed attempt, he was eliminating a way NOT to produce the light bulb. The more times he failed, the closer he was to achieving his goal. The same goes for trading. So often, people give up just as they are about to become consistently profitable. The next time you get discouraged because of a few trades that didn’t work out, think of Edison’s 10,000 bad trades and the success that came from those failures. Next, once you invent your light bulb, make sure you spend your life using it to feed your grander vision, not trying to improve “IT.”
The maze of life is such a gift and I don’t intend on wasting a minute of it. Make each day count.