Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Silent Confidence

While I wasn't going to initially post a follow-up to yesterday's Weekend Trader edition that elicited a number of reader emotions, I changed my mind after some further reflection, especially since as I mentioned in my follow-up comments that I know firsthand that some of the world's top traders follow and can clearly relate to our journey.

For perhaps with all the diary blogging over the past year emphasizing the constant need for humility, the comeback mentality, purposely focusing on my bad days more than my good, general psychological venting (sometimes interpreted as whining), etc., the ingredient of silent confidence hasn't gotten enough attention. And the reason you probably don't see me touch on it much is I'm always careful not to cross the razor-thin line that separates the powerful (and profitable) concept of silent confidence and that of its evil twin, equally powerful (and losing) cockiness. For once crossed, one can't easily go back.

And so it's for that reason that I must mentally step out of the room for a moment to allow my inner-caddy to say a few words on this topic, before I return to close.


Hi all.

Today, I want to touch on something Don purposely doesn't talk about, yet something that you should all know. For despite his intentional blog downplaying of his abilities and results (remember, this is his motivational diary and venting tool ... sort of like talking to me, his internal caddy), he's actually one of the most confident traders I've ever seen.

And it's not a false "fake-it-until-you-make-it" confidence that's sometimes needed early in one's career, rather it's a feeling that he's more than earned based on factual data and discussions with his broker who houses accounts for many of the world's top traders. Frankly, I know that when Don is motivated and focused on the markets that he could stand toe to toe (and has) with any trader in the world, sometimes besting them.

Yet Don will never let you see that side of him. In fact, for those that stumble across this diary for the first time somewhere in the future, they'll probably never know it exists unless they read this particular post. To them, he may seem like a constantly frustrated trader balancing trading with life, and who's never satisfied with his performance. And such is what keep him on the "other side of the line" he mentioned.

Perhaps the best analogy I can provide is that of the now-overly hyped, yet forever-powerful Susan Boyle video. For if you view it closely one last time, you'll find two crystal clear moments (right before she began singing at the 1:54 mark and again later during a brief pause at the 3:48 mark when she glanced at Amanda) where her facial expression silently beamed an inner confidence scream of, "I know I'm a helluva lot better than Elaine Paige and I'm now going to show you." Of course, she had to feel that way to stir the performance she gave ... and the results proved she was right. Yet if you didn't catch those two brief moments, or simply see her off the stage, you'd see a rather ordinary person who "seems" to be lacking confidence.

And so it is with the tiny minority of consistently successful traders -- many of whom are purposely intensely private -- as you'll never "see" them perform or hear them saying how great they think they are. Especially when someone steps out on an extremely public limb with an intensely private motivational diary.

I know Don better than anyone, along with other top traders, who despite their constant post-market venting and self-flogging, are indeed the most confident traders I've even known when they're toiling away in private during the day ... a justified confidence and inner belief that is absolutely necessary for any level of sustained peak performance.

In Don's case, you'll just have squint really hard and pause the tape to see those few moments where he shows it.

Yet it's there. And watch out when he grins quietly.


Is he done? Good. I hope he behaved himself, as sometimes he says things I don't quite agree with ... sort of like a Biden/Obama moment.

I'm sure I'll hear it if he didn't.

ck to work on another comeback on Monday and improve on last week's lackluster performance. And pehaps not so ironically, that's exactly what Tiger is trying to do today at the TPC.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Dtowntrader said...

I think our overly media-centric society and marketing-oriented professional scene severely lacks an appreciation for silent confidence. This then translates to an underappreciation for ability and truth and an overemphasis on self-promotion (and misinterpretation of character). Our society has become more superficial to the casual observer, with people who display excessive loudness praised as "extroverts" and people who display wealth as being "successful." People who exhibit such tendencies, along with ample gluteus maximus smooching, are then promoted in corporate America as tomorrows "leaders." This leads to less thought and care about quality, more hype, and perhaps elements of what eventually lead to a financial/societal meltdown.

But hey, the flipside of all this? Those who have adapted such mentalities pretty much don't stand much of a chance in seeing what really matters in things that require immense objectivity - things It is best for silent gangsters like Don (and hopefully myself) to simply do their thing and let their results and financial happiness speak for themselves. So for you haters out there who think he's whining half the time, it's time to check yourself.

Why did I just call Don a gangster? Well check out Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangster and you'll see why:

E said...

I like the symmetry in Don's column and the "intent" behind the TPC stadium.

Personally, on the 17th I would rather swing my old beat up club with confidence, rather than be using my newer clubs without belief in myself.

I would still carry a few extra golf balls in my bag ...

Thanks for the stadium Don..., as well as a look at the thin red line.

E-Mini Player said...

Don, great post as always! You definitely are a great trader, but I think you're actually selling yourself short by setting this $1 million target (ceiling). Your goal last year was $1M and you knocked it out of the park. Why limit yourself to $1M this year when you KNOW you could be making $2-3 Million, with additional size. Reading over the posts, I sometimes feel like you view last year's gain as a "gift" due to the volatility, and are afraid to give it back to the market. Just my opinion. I'd love to see some $50K+ days posted on your blog; like last year :)

Don Miller said...

E-Mini -

Just enjoying life a bit this year ... certainly not "afraid" to give it back from a fear perspective.

Much of last year's take has been tucked away to secure retirement, college funding etc., and I'm purposely choosing not to risk more capital than I did last year.

Nope, back-to-back $1M remains the current goal at this stage in my life, and there will be plenty of years left should I decide to have some fun and again go "all-out".