HOW ARE MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS AND TRADERS ALIKE?
Mountains fascinate me. I spent much of my youth in the mountains, and I still thoroughly enjoy being able to explore the higher altitudes of our world. I began alpine climbing in college, and later I developed a passion for the financial markets. When I am asked by new traders and aspiring traders how they can become successful in the stock markets, it is perhaps not surprising that my responses usually compare trading to climbing. Mountaineering and trading are risky endeavors but, at the same time, they are incredibly rewarding, and I have found in my experiences that they appeal to a particular group of people. In this article, I would like to share with you three traits that successful alpinists and successful traders have in common.
1. Both are process-oriented.
Achievement in any venture comes from being process-oriented, not result-oriented. Bernadette McDonald, a Canadian author and mountain climber, writes in Freedom Climbers, “To be a climber, one has to accept that gratification is rarely immediate.” You will invest time and energy and resources to climb a peak, only to have to turn back because of the wind, the weather, or the unexpected. If the only aspect of the climb you look forward to is standing on the summit and taking photographs, you will soon find climbing to be the most boring of pursuits. For me, the beauty of climbing is found in every step, every move, every turn, and every new glimpse of scenery. It is the same with trading. New traders will usually lose money at the beginning, and some will become frustrated, curse the markets, and leave. Those who come to trading with the goal of learning the process of how to trade, and are not caught up in their first months with their P&L, are the ones who most likely will make it. This is true in every undertaking of life.
2. Both take risks, but they also manage those risks.In mountaineering, you literally take a risk with every single step. But that does not stop climbers from doing what they love to do. They manage and minimize their risk as much as possible. They adopt rules and build protocols on how to protect themselves so they can do what they are passionate about. There is no gain without risk. This is the same for traders. Since every trade puts your money in jeopardy, you need to learn to manage your risk. How? You set stop losses, you ensure you are diversified and that not all of your money is tied up in one losing trade, and you must always have a well-thought-out trading plan. Those who trade “big” and try to make a so-called home run trade, without any plan, are like those who jump out of a plane without a parachute. They are gamblers at best.
3. They both have passion
You can never truly become a climber if you do not have a passion for mountains. In addition to all of the risks, it is common to experience moments of extreme temperatures, exhaustion, frostbite and other challenges. However, we climbers are a passionate people, and we thrive on these things. There is truth in the saying, “It does not have to be fun in order to be fun.” Anatoli Boukreev, the late mountaineering legend, said, “Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” The same is true with trading. If you sincerely want to become a trader, you must embrace every aspect of it, including its losses, its unpleasant moments, and its complexity. That is the same for any endeavor in life. Accomplished entrepreneurs, politicians, professionals, virtually anyone who has found success in their field, are passionate about what they do. These are the people who we remember. As Stephen King wrote in Pet Sematary, “There is no gain without risk, perhaps no risk without love!”
My advice: choose to become what you love, not what you need or what you should be. Be brave enough to take the necessary controlled risks to get there. Be patient. Focus on the process. Learn from your experiences.
A Few Final Words
You need to practice. You need experience deciphering market patterns and you need to be constantly tweaking your “if-then” statements for your trading setups. Every day is a new game and a new puzzle to solve.
You must start recognizing patterns and developing trading strategies. Moreover, these strategies must be practiced in real time and under stress. Trading in simulators can help and is absolutely necessary, but there is no substitute for trading with your real hard–earned cash where your results actually matter.
When you begin as a trader, you most likely will be hopeless at it. Many times at the beginning of my career I came to the conclusion that day trading was not for me. Now that I am an experienced and profitable trader, there is at least one day almost every month that I wonder if I can trade in this market any longer.
If you are signing up for a training course or mentorship program, you should very carefully read about their plan. A good training program will encourage you to trade only the easiest setups when you start.
New traders often expect to make money immediately, and when they do not, they let this affect their work. When they do not see the results that they expected, they start to focus on the wrong things. Some increase their share size, hoping that this will help them make more money. Many will not prepare as thoroughly as they should because they become discouraged. They ask themselves, “What is the point of preparing hard if I cannot make money?” They start to take chances that a successful and experienced trader would never take. They become gamblers. This leads to even more significant losses and only adds to their problems.
While there is no one right way to make money from trading, there is only one right way to begin your trading career. When you first begin, you must focus on the process of trading, not on how to make money for a living. You must allow at least six to eight months before you will become consistently profitable. If you are not willing or are unable to do this, then you should find another career.
I cannot emphasize enough to you how unimportant the results are from your first six months of trading. They do not matter. During these first months, you are building the foundation for a lifetime career.
All of us have mental weaknesses that we must conquer. If we stubbornly insist on trying to prove to the market that we are right, we will pay a high price. Some traders cannot accept a loss and exit stocks that trade against them. Some take small profits prematurely instead of waiting for the final profit target. Some are afraid to make a decision to enter a trade with an excellent risk/reward that they recognize. The only way to get better is to work on your weaknesses.
There is no shame in failing as a trader. The real shame is in not pursuing your dreams.
- Develop your trading skills with this free real time day trading simulator.
- Check out the most advanced tools for traders and investors: https://tradingterminal.com/
- Learn about one of the best technologies for active trading.
- A Glossary of terms frequently used in day trading.
……Would you like to ask Andrew Aziz some questions or share your own experiences? He would enjoy hearing from you at [email protected].