Specialty Skills

Ten Characteristics of Profitable Traders

Dr. Woody Johnson

There are reasons why profitable traders achieve the way that they do.  Here are ten characteristics that they share.

1. Clarity: They know what they want and they have a hunger for it.
Everyone makes mistakes, including market wizards and highly successful traders. The difference is that they “learn” from each mistake and rarely repeat them. That’s because they have a clear idea of what they want; and they want it very much. Once they make a mistake, especially if it results in a loss, they double down not on the trade but on their efforts to follow-through with what-matters-most. When you want something with an intense desire, the true nature of your potential is realized through the fire in your passion. This emotional fixation tunes the body, mind and spirit to work singularly for anything it focuses on. As the saying goes, you become “hungry.” You “want it so bad you can taste it.”

2. A strong sense of purpose…the Big Why
Profitable traders develop a strong sense of purpose. This is the real reason for making the effort, and it is well defined. The undisciplined person doesn’t know what they want; they often have no direction, can’t make a decision, are consistently changing, constantly looking outside themselves for the answer and are forever starting projects they never finish.

3. Goal setting and visioning
Another characteristic these traders share relates to goal setting and creating a sensory-rich vision. The undisciplined have vague goals that they might, maybe, someday achieve. They are capable of sensory-rich images but apply it to doom-and-gloom scenarios. Achievers visualize their outcomes clearly and creatively using all their senses to taste, see, hear, touch and smell the goal. They create the emotion of winning, which takes the spark of purpose and turns it into a flame.

4. A positive sensory orientation
Achievers have a positive sensory orientation. They expect to succeed. They see past accomplishments, no matter how small, as proof of the pudding—they did it before and can do it again. Profitable traders are not afraid of risks and trying new approaches. They never lose site of the goal. Each failure is a new and valued lesson that takes them closer to their goal. The undisciplined waste their time dwelling on past failures, and this often turns into reinforcement to stop trying.

5. A role model or mentor
Self-disciplined traders have a role model and/or a mentor, someone whose advice they trust. Throughout history, great men and women have looked to a role model for inspiration and as an example of how to do it. The achiever studies the patterns of the successful trader, someone who is already achieving what they desire. The undisciplined look for the quick-fix models; they think it’s a gimmick, that it’s luck or who you know. These people resent the truly successful. They blame their lack of success on excuses; bad breaks, bad luck and/or bad parents, and see themselves as victims.

6. Self-assuredness
The previous five characteristics help develop this one –  self-assuredness. Heavy hitters are fueled by self-confidence. They have a strong belief in self and their ability. They know that they can do it. The undisciplined are hampered by self-doubt. Failure haunts them and fills their mind with fear and stifles their ability to take risks.

7. The ability to plan and organize
The undisciplined have no clear game plan. The skill of prioritizing eludes them as they make endless lists they never get done. They are disorganized and waste time and energy chasing illusions. Achievers break goals into pieces and work with one job at a time. They prioritize their time and accomplish first things first.

8. The necessary education
Heavy-hitting wizards get the knowledge required to make the game plan work. The undisciplined look for short cuts instead of dedicating time and effort on a proper education. They take a weekend course and become experts. To them, it is too much trouble to get it right; they lack patience. Winners identify the necessary knowledge and they acquire it, going back to school if necessary. They recognize the critical importance of learning how to do it right.

9. Patience
The ninth characteristic of the peak performance wizard is patience. The undisciplined want everything now and can’t wait. They view time as the enemy and think it will be wasted if they don’t get on it right now, without the proper preparation, like starting a trading business without a business plan or entering a trade without a trading plan. All real achievers possess patience. They understand that true accomplishment takes time. Time does not intimidate this trader; in fact time becomes a tool. They know, as they are working on the goal, that each passing minute takes them closer to its achievement.

10. Persistence and perseverance
Free Trading WorkshopPersistence and perseverance rank as tenth on the characteristic list. The undisciplined are driven by quick fixes, impulsive schemes and are at the mercy of greed and fear. As soon as the tick goes against them they panic, and their minds are no longer focused on what the charts are giving. They see only what the distortion will allow. They are easy quitters when the going gets tough. Big time achievers stick to their vision despite setbacks. They don’t give up when met with hardships or the negative opinions of others. Successful achievers are relentless and stubborn. They succeed against all odds, and when they are discouraged they draw inspiration and motivation from their sensory-rich vision.

This is what we teach in “Mastering the Mental Game” online, on-location and XLT courses. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book; From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.

Happy Trading

Dr. Woody Johnson – wjohnson@tradingacademy.com

This newsletter is written for educational purposes only. By no means do any of its contents recommend, advocate or urge the buying, selling or holding of any financial instrument whatsoever. Trading and Investing involves high levels of risk. The author expresses personal opinions and will not assume any responsibility whatsoever for the actions of the reader. The author may or may not have positions in Financial Instruments discussed in this newsletter. Future results can be dramatically different from the opinions expressed herein. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Reprints allowed for private reading only, for all else, please obtain permission.