Develop and Use a Beginner’s Mind to unlock your Trading Potential

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Developing and using a “Beginners Mind” is a powerful technique to help the aspiring trader unlock their true potential.  As you’ll see, the beginners mind is free of preconceived notions and known truths. It vibrates with an inquisitive and positive energy, which when applied to markets is a powerful tool.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.” 

Suzuki Roshi  Zen Teacher

First a Story……….
There was a time in my life when I played a fair amount of golf.  Inevitably the season began the same way. The weather breaks, the guys call, we set a tee time, then we show up.  Stiff muscles, no practice, no competition and no expectations except to walk in the fresh air and catch up with friends.
With an uncluttered mind and zero expectations, my golf swing was free, easy, and pure. The resulting ball flight was much better than usual. Any undesired results were met with “who cares” we’re here to have fun. Great shots were celebrated; bad shots ignored. My first – round scorecards were often the best of the year for me.  A beginner’s mind and mind-set if there ever was one.
After that, the trouble begins.  Take lessons. Read instructional books. Seek advice. Keep that head still; keep that elbow tucked in; rotate your hips and release. Wow! That Tee shot sucked! I can’t make a putt to save my life. How come I’m not winning? I know how to play this hole; why didn’t it work?  I keep practicing but I’m getting worse; not better.Have you had experience’s similar to these?  I bet you have.


Sometimes the “Beginner’s Luck” phenomenon is not the result of a statistical anomaly, but a product of approaching the problem with a “Beginners Mind”.  A mind free of clutter, preconceived notions and known truths.  Those that study trading and traders often see trader performance drop off significantly after their first year of trading. Why is that? As aspiring trader’s, we are often all to eager to clutter our mind as we hungrily gather information in a futile attempt to get “the edge”.  We desperately want to learn. More knowledge means more competence. More competence means more success. We want to be sure we’re right. Unfortunately, that path often leads to down a dark alley. We don’t know. We’ll never know. Once we recognize we don’t know and accept that, we will be walking toward the beginner’s mind.

This putting down and letting go of ideas is a terrifying place. Why? Because we’re left wide open, naked and vulnerable. We hide behind our concepts, calculations and hypothesizes. Information is a weapon. Data points collected – a badge of honor.

But here, with a Beginner’s Mind we’re presented with something that shatters that way of thinking. It breaks apart our solidified idea of who we think we are.

Zen Master Bon Soeng explains it this way,
“There’s all of this bias toward knowing. But we don’t really know. We have this radical teaching: How about admitting the truth that we don’t know and go from there. If we really live that, it changes everything.

A Beginner’s Mind doesn’t mean stupid. It means What Is It? Suddenly our eyes are open, we’re vibrating with energy because we wonder, ‘What?’…rather than, ‘Oh yeah, I know that!’

So this Not-Knowing actually gives us life. It gives vibrancy and energy to the world we live in. This kind of I-Know shuts everything down and we get stuck…

We fill our minds up with all this stuff, and it gets stale and dead. Not knowing is what opens us up and comes alive…

Clear it away. Return to zero. What do we see, what do we smell, what do we taste, what do we touch? Everything is truth. What we know blocks the truth. Returning to not knowing opens us up.”

Takeaways and Action Activities

  • Seek to Trade ( and Live ) with a Beginner’s Mind that is alive with possibilities
  • Seek to reduce external noise and thoughts that clutter your mind. 
    • Examples might be financial media and harsh, judgmental self-talk
  • Let go of your desire for certainty; embrace not-knowing
  • Assume you don’t know; not that you do. Look at trade set ups with an open mind
  • When you put on a trade; fully release it.  Winner? Enjoy it.  Loser? So what   Both are just trades; neither are a comment on you

For Further Study
“Zen Mind; Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki
Available at Amazon for $10.47   Find it Here

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