I was chatting to Jim Armstrong a mate of mine who teaches combatives/self defence and he is probably the best teacher of this sort of thing that I have come across in all my decades of knocking about the martial arts. The discussion turned to the notion being preemptive (language) – that is hitting someone first. Unfortunately, the majority of classical or traditional martial arts teach their students a variation of this rubbish.
Sadly, it doesn’t work – you simply end up on your backside nursing broken nose or worse. This is why in real self defence the idea of being preemptive comes into play. It is also extremely hard for any right thinking person to do, no one wants to hit someone else first. Quite correctly the thought of doing so is abhorrent to many, but it may be a necessary tactic. Despite it being a necessary ( I would say essential) skill many people simply cannot do it. As such they need to be taught ways to ride out the first hit which is difficult but not impossible and takes a very good instructor to get you to that point.
This raises the question of can you do it and the idea of asking yourself hard questions permeates everything we do. Too often though we avoid the hard questions.
For traders the hard question is can you do it. Leave aside the notion of sitting analysing markets, drawing on charts, devising trading systems and all the other clutter that seems to infect the trading psyche. The most immediate question is can you place a trade and then sit there and watch it go wrong and can you do this repeatedly not for a period of a few days but for years. It has been my observation that most cannot, be it as a result of the short term nature of the world we live having infected the thinking of most. Or simply, that humans cannot stick to anything for any period of time. I have a theory that most fitness and diet plans are based around 12 weeks because that is as long as we can conceive of as a forward plan. We may have inherited this part of our psychology from our ancestors because 12 weeks is about he length of a season – to them it would have been a natural cycle. A natural beginning and end. To us it has become a measure of time that we must race against. If I am not super fit, lean, ripped or able to bench press a truck then I have failed.
The problem is that trading is not a race but a grind where you do the same thing day in day out and there is no let up from that routine. Likewise, there is no let up in the number of losing trades you will encounter. Granted there are good times when you think you are master of the universe but there are also times when you think that you might just have had your day and will never encounter another winning trade again. The periods of struggle might go on for months or even years. So the question you need to ask yourself is – can you tolerate this or is trading simply a hobby, something you tinker with and pretend to your friends about.
There is no shame in realising that you cannot do it. What you then have to do is to see if there is a framework within which you can operate and achieve some measure of success. But before you move into this phase you must have asked yourself the hard question – can you do it?