Sunday, November 18, 2007

Old Ways, New Results?

The dialog below is from recent mentoring session. Brief history: trader M. comes to critical junction in his trading career, as his losses accumulate over time to a point where he questions his ability to make money trading. The most frustrating thing is not even losses themselves but absence of any signs of improvement. In what can be viewed as one of last steps to save his trading carrer he ask me for a few mentoring sessions. During those we discover some flaws in his approach that put him on a losing side on regular basis. Exact character of those flaws is irrelevant to our today's blog post topic, suffice to say we are able to outline the plan and we agree to make an interruption for a week so M. could trade for a while armed by new understanding, then we are supposed to analyze the results, make corrections if needed, outline new steps if needed. Week goes by, we talk.

I: Sending me the log?
M: Nah, not yet.
I: Why not?
M: Well, I haven't implemented any of changes we discussed.
I: Why not?
M: Well, I lost so much earlier that I feel I need to get a solid chunk of it back first, then start changes.
I: Let's see if I got this right. You want to achieve better result by doing things the old way, way that haven't worked before; then, AFTER you achieve those better results, you want to implement the changes that are supposed to lead to those better results?
M: Hmmm... it doesn't make much sense when you put it this way.

At this point I realized that I actually did hear this before. Variations could be different, underlying message was the same. A trader blows his stops, holds his losing positions indefinitely until they hopefully come back; we discuss it, come to decision to free his mind and money by taking the losses and starting anew, he says "Fine, but first I will wait for this and this positions to come back, I need to recoup some of my losses". Another trader loses on his overnight holds regularly, we agree that he quits his positions before day's end so we could analyze his criteria for holding and decide whether to change them or maybe quit overnights altogether; he says "Fine, but this one I will hold, it looks so promising and I lost so much, I would like to get some back before starting major changes". See the similarity?

To me it sounds like this: You drive from A to B, it's a long drive, let's say 500 miles. At some point you discover that you took a wrong turn a while ago and last 200 miles you were going in a wrong direction. Instead of turning back and making the right turn this time, you decide to continue wrong way because YOU ALREADY LOST SO MUCH TIME AND FUEL THAT YOU WANT TO CONTINUE GOING THIS WAY UNTIL YOU ARRIVE AT THE POINT OF YOUR DESTINATION: ONLY AFTER YOU ARE THERE YOU AGREE TO TAKE THE RIGHT WAY.

If you ever catch yourself thinking like those traders described above, re-read this capitalized sentence above; see if it makes any sense to you.

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