Aspiring Traders: Focus on the details

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The article uses examples to demonstrate why aspiring traders should focus on the details rather than on their grand aspirations to achieve trading success.

The Problem with “Thinking Big”

As kids we’re told told to “think big”.  Aspire to greatness; become whoever you want to be. Big dreamers achieve great things right?   The problem is, those big dreams often make people feel good but often prevent them from getting started and accomplishing much.  People often become paralyzed with the fear that they won’t accomplish anything of real value or worth.  They get caught up in self-criticism. In their mind’s eye, their work can’t stand up to their aspirations or other’s criticisms.

About Tennessee Williams and Mauricio Barbuto

Tennessee Williams was one of America’s great playwrights but it didn’t start that way. As a teen, Williams used to write after finishing his day job.  Mostly poems and short stories.  Most of what he wrote in the beginning ended up in the trash cans of editors, but that didn’t stop him. He kept writing.  With fortitude and diligence, Williams improved on his craft and eventually got some stories published and won a few small writing awards.  His first Broadway play was a flop. It wasn’t until several years later that he broke through with “A Streetcar named Desire” did he become accomplished.  After 10 years of stardom, Williams’ style and subject matter fell out of favor. That didn’t stop him though. He kept on writing.   What’s the point?  Williams was a writer and writers write, no matter what.

An artist I am fond of is Mauricio Barbuto from Brazil.  His intricate paintings of the Amazon rain forest intrigue me.  Look at this painting. Imagine the practice, patience, and talent required to place every pin-prick of color on that canvas. Simply incredible.

I can imagine the years and years of dedicated practice of painting “junk” that came before the painting you see here. Can you?   Writers write; painters paint.

What if either Williams or Barbuto were so worried about if they would become great that they never began their journey. That would be a shame.

Focus on the details  and value process over outcomes

The dissection of Williams and Barbuto experiences show and what Buddhist teachings and other spiritual traditions encourage us to do. That is forget about “grand plans” and “great expectations”.  Simply focus on the details in front of you.  Do the best you can and forget about expectations and outcomes.  Trust that everything will work out the way its supposed to, because it will.

What does this have to do with Trading?

It turns out, in my opinion, it has everything to do with trading.  Listen, we all have aspirations to become great traders.  I think the thing that opens the door to greatness, however,  is focusing on the details, day in and day out.  Here are some of the details I am talking about.

Actively work on calming your mind –  Traders don’t battle markets, they battle themselves.  If you work hard to calm your mind, you’ll be able to take your ego out of the equation and eliminate the detrimental impulses that effect us all.  You probably know about those impulses don’t you.  I work on calming my mind through meditation and its helped immensely. You choose whatever way works best for you.

Maintain a Journal –  Write something in it each and everyday no matter what. Even if you think you have nothing to say.

Create a trade Plan for every trade – it really is the basis for good trading

Recap each trade – Take the time to something from every trade you make.

Value process over outcome –  Great traders have great processes that they lean on and follow to a tee.  Great outcomes flow from excecutional excellence centered a a solid process.

Study – There are lessons to be learned all around us. Be open to those opportunities. They often come from places and people where you least expect them.

Practice time in the chair –  Writing isn’t easy; ask any author. Painting a work of art isn’t either.  So it is with trading. Learning to be a craftsman takes time. As you practice the craft of trading you are getting better. Imagine the progress you’ll have made after making 5000 trades.

My own trading journey

When I ran a successful business for 20 years, I was the guy with the grand plan. Truth be told, that plan was accomplished, in large part, by a team of dedicated people that took care of the nitty gritty details on a daily basis. Scheduling trucks, generating invoices, making sure the UPC’s were right, pulling the product, ensuring supplies were ordered etc. A business breaks down when those things don’t get done consistently and consistently correct.

When I started trading, it was pretty ugly.  It took me a long time to realize that the process I used to run a successful business for 20 years wasn’t working. I didn’t have “people” to focus on the details.  I had to do that myself. Focusing on the details was hard for me and I fought doing the “grunt work” for a long time. I lost a lot of money too.  It was painful.   Things turned the corner for me when I began attending to all the details.  Trade plans, recaps, meditation etc.

I learned that grand plans are accomplished by doing all the little things consistently well on a day-to-day basis. I truly believe that if you focus on the details, you will improve your trading. It will either help you turn the corner toward consistent profitability or propel you to even higher levels if you’ve already crossed that profitability bridge.

Good luck! Hope all this helps you!!

Happy hunting and good trading.



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