Get Out of the Trading Comfort Zone

by : Stuart Mcphee

Many people who have traded have heard how important your psychology, or mindset is to your trading success. Books have been written, entire seminars presented and numerous tea breaks at traders club meetings across the world are devoted to the subject of the ‘psychology of trading’. Many traders would argue, I included, that your mind is the largest part of your overall trading success. I always wonder however, how many people truly understand what it is they mean when they talk about it and its relationship with trading. In reality, your mindset controls anything you do and consequently, any endeavour you undertake. Trading is no different and it could be argued that it is even more applicable in trading as your money is involved, and that triggers many other emotions inside of us. Numerous examples that confront the mind and our natural emotions include wanting to be right all the time and getting our own way, having our opinion matter and having some influence and control over what happens. In trading, these natural thoughts within many of us will place us in a position of disadvantage. These are just some examples of why our mindset and preparing our mind is so important to our overall success. Furthermore, you would have thought previously about why some people are so successful in life and others are not. How many books have been written about having a positive attitude and taking action towards your goals? There is, and always has been, a single ingredient that separates people who are successful in life from people who are not. It is the mind and how we use it. Many people live their lives with an endless series of "what if" questions that they ask themselves.

An activity I will perform when I speak to a large group of traders about the mindset involves asking for a volunteer. I would have spent the last 10 minutes or so explaining how traders must often ‘think outside the box’. In other words, don’t think and act upon natural thoughts … think beyond normal thought. I say to the group, “OK, for my next session, I need the assistance of a volunteer from the audience just for a few minutes. Can someone come up here and join me please?" When I say this, I make sure that I look down at the floor and don’t make eye contact with anyone. After asking, I continue to avoid eye contact with the audience as I pretend to fiddle with my notes or have a drink of water. About 15 seconds pass and no one has made a move. I then look up at the audience and again, I ask for a volunteer for my next session. The atmosphere begins to become slightly awkward as the people in the audience begin to wonder whether my next session will go ahead without a volunteer presenting themselves. I stand there and wait, not saying anything but still determined to wait long enough until someone volunteers. Almost out of pity, someone will inevitably stand up and declare themselves the volunteer and make their way to the front to join me. As they join me and I introduce myself to them, I provide them a copy of my book with my compliments, thank them for volunteering and then ask them to return to their seat. Often the person will then receive a round of applause as he makes his way back to his seat. This simple activity illustrates how the vast majority of us are perfectly happy in our comfort zone. When I ask for someone to come up in front of everybody else and therefore expose themselves to the possibility of embarrassing themselves, everyone feels uncomfortable and hopes that I don’t look directly at them. Therefore, nobody wants to take action. Yet, to trade successfully and master the trader’s mindFree Web Content, we need to be prepared to think beyond natural thoughts and subsequently take action based on those thoughts.