The Crab Principle

A few years ago I used to do seminars for people who wanted to learn about this business and were interested in becoming traders.

The obedient and disciplined spread betters ones went away and worked and became successful.

The disobedient and undisciplined ones gathered in a group to grumble about their lack of success, conveniently for them by, you know, overlooking their own inabilities. They then proceeded to pester the successful ones.

The successful spread betters at first were sympathetic and helpful...but...found themselves having to suffer unwelcome and distracting invasions to their privacy and mindset.

This situation became progressively worse as with increasing insistence the unsuccessful ones tried to invalidate, damage and impair the successful ones and to try to convert them to their attitude, which was their reality and the opposite of the other group. What happened?


The successful ones in order to get rid of the nuisance now pretend they are not successful and as a consequence, finally get peace and quiet to get on with their progress.

The successful ones now disconnect totally and make more and more progress while the others who have succeeded in totally corrupting themselves and anyone who will listen, fall behind fast and eventually fail.

They do not achieve satisfaction at the expense of the failure of the others; they achieve satisfaction at their own achievements. This is the human equivalent of 'The Crab Principle'. Put a bunch of crabs into a cage with no lid. Make sure the cage is small enough that the crabs could get out if they wanted to. You know what will happen? No crab will ever get out of that cage! This is because as each tries to climb out of the cage the others will pull it back down. In the end no crab gets out.

Humans can be like this. Many fear the success of others and attempt to pull them down to their level rather than rise up to the successful ones level. A very common phenomenon.

Humans also like to believe they are somehow inherently better than others. In its most ugly guise this takes the form of racism. In a less repugnant guise it is simply believing that somehow you have some talent that others can not match. This is ego. The sense that 'I' am better than 'them'. This, imo, is why many (not all) successful traders like to spin the mystique about how hard trading is and how only a select few, touched at birth with the right qualities, can achieve success at trading. It makes them feel special, it strokes their ego. It feels much better than to admit it is a learned skill set that anyone who wants it badly enough and works hard enough can also learn and achieve. I'm not saying this is bad. We all have ego and hence we all like to feel special and somehow better than others at something. It is human nature. However, if one is to have a list to work on or an obstacle course to complete one needs to be completely honest and admit that being human means they will have ego. This ego will affect them.

And it is incorrect to suggest that ego is a non-issue amongst successful traders. Some control their ego better than others but all humans are bound by ego. Many (again, I stress, not all) successful people (in all walks of life) can allow their ego to convince themselves that they must somehow be special and different to others. That some others could never do what they have done because they just aren't 'born to it' or 'not the right personality for it' or some other such reason. All of it is hogwash. Some will fail at trading but none are pre-destined to fail regardless of what they do simply because of who they are. This myth is, imo, perpetuated more by successful traders than by unsuccessful ones. The unsuccessful try to blame anything and everything bar themselves for their failure. They do not sit back and say 'well I failed because I am inherently flawed for the business of trading'. On the other hand the successful traders are quick to point out to the unsuccessful that there is no holy grail or secret to it all. They point out the failure is on the part of the unsuccessful trader. It is something about that trader that made them unsuccessful. Often times they argue that the trader failed because of who they are. I would argue they failed because of something they failed to do. They chose not to work at it until they had changed whatever it was that needed changing.

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