I think a dedicated trader's progress can be comparable to a chart that puts in a long base of steady sideways action, and then has a major breakout to the upside (followed by a sustained uptrend if the base is good). It can be VERY frustrating to get nowhere but sideways for a long period of time- yet the knowledge base is necessary to get the big uptrend that follows. The learning pattern is not to see a steady rise. It's to have long grinding periods of seemingly getting nowhere followed by intense Eureka! Moments that represent all that knowledge interconnecting itself and coming out forcefully AFTER it has been connected and integrated and not one second before.
The knowledge you've got already is like a bunch of jumbled legos in a bag, now you just need to put them together in a way that clicks. Just trying to highlight that making the connections for yourself is what is key. When you 'get' something for the first time, it is a very powerful feeling. I went through the creative destruction process myself in a huge way.
A good while ago, maybe seven years in, I remember feeling like a complete know nothing jackass. I had made money and lost it, made money and lost it, made money and lost it. Made a 400% return in a few months and gave it all back. I had read at least 60 books by that time, and been studying the futures markets all day every day. I was giving regular advice to clients (as a commodity broker), regularly giving currency and index commentary to the newswires, doing articles and newsletters. But I didn't really get it. I wasn't a good trader at all. After a really bonehead move at one point I said to myself, 'You know what man? You are just another fool broker who talks the talk but can't walk the walk. When the rubber meets the road you couldn't trade your way out of a paper bag.' Talk about a depressing feeling! I felt like a complete chump, just another fast talking sucker peddling dreams I couldn't even fulfill myself. Emotional wasteland. I was basically looking at the possibility that the years I had spent were a waste, that there was some mysterious element I was missing from my gut, that I just 'didn't have it.' But my personal pity party got old pretty fast. So I said to myself 'Forget that whiny crap. If I suck then I suck and that's all there is to it. Clearly I've gotten nowhere, so I might as well start over. What have I got to lose?' I viewed starting over as an admission of complete failure- which was fair, because from a trading perspective I Had been a complete failure up to that point.
So I threw everything out, declared myself a dummy, and went back to square one from a mental perspective. I went back over ALL the old ground. All of it. And you know what? At that point, two years in already, is when I really started to learn. All of my true 'Aha!' and 'Wow! and 'now I SEE it!' moments came AFTER that point, AFTER I threw in the towel on my ego and started over as a self declared know nothing. The entire first two years had primed the pump and nothing more. I remember going back and reading Market Wizards and Reminiscences again, and each time it was like reading entirely new books I had never seen before. I kept saying to myself, 'how could I have missed that! It's so obvious now! How could I not have seen that before!!!' But the reason I had that flood of clarity is because of all the slogging I had done. I had to lay that groundwork and then go back over it again before I got anywhere. I had to build a base of knowledge in my subconscious to connect and solidify later, and I had to break myself before I could break out.
I believe that before you get anywhere substantial as a trader, you really have to flush your ego down the toilet and embrace the pain of feeling like a fool, no matter how much it hurts. Most people cannot do this. They may want to, they may talk like they can do it, but they can't. You know how some people talk and talk and you know that talk is all it is, no matter what they say? When it comes to embracing the pain, that's the barrier right there. Most people are WEAK, plain and simple. That's just the way it is. See, what I am saying ADDS UP because it reflects the real world. To make it as a trader you have to be strong, mentally, emotionally and maybe even physically. So why do most people experience long run failure at trading? At the root of it, because they are weak. Period.
So the only real secret is to always treat yourself like a beginner and always be on that hunt for clarity. Thinking is the key whether you have a few rules or a truckload of rules, because thinking things all the way through is the only way to establish those connections deep down in the recesses of your mind. Tips won't do it, specific advice won't do it, generalisms won't do it, because no one knows what your flaws really are but you. If I give you advice in area A but your problem is in area X, nothing is solved. If you yourself don't know where your problem is, you can't hone in on it. All I can say is, don't see the re-haul as an admission of failure- or if you do see it that way, don't be afraid to admit it as failure. Creative destruction is vital. Going back to square one - or square seven, or square fifteen, whatever - is a necessary and vital thing to do. That's one reason why so much market specific or technical specific advice on this board is, in the end, a waste of time. You have all these peeps who have never gone deep in their thought process and never embraced the pain. And I don't care if that sounds like Freud, lack of deep knowledge and lack of trial by fire has real world effects on the trading account, period.
So again I say, thinking is hard, admitting your own inadequacy is hard, backing up the truck is hard, embracing the pain is a bitch kitty. But that's the whole point. This stuff will always be tough, if everyone in the human race were strong and smart and disciplined there would be no one to take the crappy jobs. Mediocrity is like a black hole, you have to fight with all your might not to be sucked in by it. You might be close to breaking through, you might be years away yet. But it may help to know that it depends on your knowledge and your curiosity and your strength to persevere, NOT on some magic bullet.
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