The lonely trading game

Petri RedelinghuysTraderPetri

Many times I have heard and read people saying that trading is a lonely profession. I never really understood it, although I think I am starting to understand it now.

Even though there are groups of people who like to chat to each other, share ideas and support each other, at the end of the day it’s each person for themselves. Each and every trader in the market is there because he or she is looking out for their own best interests. When the orders enter the market there are no faces, no loyalties, no thought to whose money you are taking when you win. It is purely each man or woman for himself or herself.

People will offer advice and try to give you guidance from time to time. I try to do it with people that I think I can help and I have people do it for me when I need it. On both accounts I am grateful for the opportunities. For the most part people trading the market are good people who try to look out for each other, but that doesn’t mean that they are actually able to help.

Each person is uniquely different and has different tolerances for stress and pressure. I have had the privilege of sitting in a trading room with some of the best traders in South Africa and was able to follow them into and out of trades. Almost every single time that I followed one of the most successful traders I have ever met, I have burned. The irony is that they, almost every time I burned, made money. Not because I burned or because they took my money, but simply because they had different tolerances for risk and a different framework for what they believed was possible or probable to happen.

They may have traded huge in my perspective at the time, although odds are they were probably trading really small in their own perspective. So when I had taken enough pain and stopped out because I traded too big, they were still happy to sit in the trade and see what happens. My point is that even though there are people out there who are willing to help and guide you, this is a journey you must ultimately take by yourself.

That being said, do not dismiss the lessons that are to be learned from others. More experienced traders can be a tremendous source of knowledge. Applying that knowledge though is up to you. It is said that one must mimic successful people in order to become successful. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean that you should mirror the trades that other seemingly successful traders are taking.

That’s a fool’s game. You should mimic successful traders, yes, but not by following them in the market. Look at their routines, learn their mantras. Each one of the absolute best traders that I have met have rock solid ways of doing things. They follow a set process in order to find trades and they have a very clear, and different, way of thinking about trading and the world at large. They have become secure in their routine and their outlook on the world. This is what we should strive for. Not to make money, that comes later. We should strive to become consistent in our approach and in our mind-set.

This takes introspection and a lot of work on your own feelings of self-worth. Continued belief in your own ability while you are on a losing streak is difficult to maintain. Conversely it is easy to believe that you are great when you are actually just lucky. Keeping our mind-set consistent is our greatest challenge. To be self-assured in the face of adversity and humble when you are on top, that takes knowledge of self. And that pursuit of self-awareness is what makes this journey such a lonely one.

You have to accept that you are in this alone and that no-one can help you get to where you want to be, but you.

Trader Petri

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