It sounds like a contradiction, but becoming vulnerable, that is, exploring and admitting that you have a soft underbelly (your issues, problems and setbacks) in your trading goes a long way toward addressing them and becoming a consistently successful trader. In fact, unless and until you are able to unabashedly peer into your inner self by digging deep and uncovering the irrational beliefs, learned limitations, faulty values and misplaced biases that are causing you to do things that are not in your best interest, you won’t be able to mine the treasures of growth that are hidden in the calcified rock of your programming and conditioning. This might seem like a no-brainer for some of you, that is, that you’ve got to face your fears and run through the gauntlet of emotional discomfort to create effective change, but there are others of you who are either scared to death to look inside for fear of the demons that might be awakened or you’re one of those other traders whose hubris and chest beating don’t allow for any admissions of weakness; even in the face of rampant rule violations and unrelenting drawdowns. This ability to look at yourself in the mirror and firstly accept that what you see is the manifestation of your programmed thoughts, conditioned feelings and the choices you’ve made up to that point, is the beginning of your trading salvation. It means fessing up to the fact that you, like everyone else, are a flawed human being.
Vulnerability is taking stock of “all” of you and resolving to be uncomfortable in the service of your highest and best goals. Vulnerability is the realization that once you have made a bone-headed error by blatantly violating your rules and defaulting on commitments, what’s most important in that moment is to acknowledge the violation or error, accept it to be an unchanging historical fact, learn from the mistake and…wait for it…Move On! So often traders kvetch, ruminate and play the tape of the rule violation over and over again. That is a prescription for instilling the bad behavior as a default pattern which will ensure that it remains stuck in your trading craw for way too long. And, vulnerability is avoiding mental violence perpetrated on yourself by cursing or otherwise beating yourself up. While it is important to acknowledge your improvables, it is also just as important to monitor your thoughts to “reframe” bad behavior from internal statements like, “I can’t do this right” or “I always muck up my entries” or “I’m a horrible trader” to something like, “I haven’t done this right yet, but I know that I can change my execution” or “I made a mistake in my execution and I know that I can do better” or “every day and in every way my trading is getting better and better.” When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, rather than becoming weaker, you are more able to open the portal to your courage; you are confronting your weaknesses and incrementally developing capacity for emotional strength and endurance in the trade.
Being OK with the fact that you are not perfect will take you a long way towards optimizing your internal and external resources. You will need them if you want to activate and access your A-Game…and keep it at the platform. Becoming vulnerable in the service of your trading is not softness but just the opposite, it is brave. This and other concepts are what we teach in the “Mastering the Mental Game” online and on-location courses. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”
Dr. Woody Johnson