Friday, December 19, 2008

Special Post - It Is Time

... the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned, but time and chance happen to them all. -- Ecclesiastes 9:12

I dedicate the following to:

My wife Debra and my family, who lived through my craziness over the past decade and whose faith in me never wavered;

Dr. Brett Steenbarger, who will never truly know how powerful his seeds of thought in his first book were;

To my broker Pat Lafferty and MF Global, who provide the best service in the industry and is the best lifeline I could have;

And most importantly, to God, who gave me strength when I was weak, patience when I was impatient, and was the true Gardener of this year's miraculous
Bamboo Tree.

*** Please note if you haven't yet watched last night's important prefacing video, please view it before continuing. ***

And so it is time. Time to measure the Bamboo. Time to rest and reflect.

Time to lock in and protect $1,620,000 on the year with a tighter than tight trailing stop that only allows for a $8,000 loss between now and December 31.

My only disappointment has been the last two weeks of sub-par performance. Yet I clearly realize that's like saying the Celtics beat the Lakers in six games last year instead of four. Fatigue finally took its toll in December via lack of focus and interest, as if to keep my humility in check for the future.

At the same time, I can see how easily Archie Karas and poker amateurs (and even a few pros at times) can begin down a slippery slope of eventually giving back all one's gains from even dizzying heights. Recognizing my mental state and having the self-control to hit the brakes after modestly donating to the market over the last few weeks and not trying to "win it back" has by far been my most difficult task of the year. Such is why I must now implement the tight trailing earnings stop.

$1.62 Million. 97.5% of my chip stack high. +210% return in the most volatile year in market history. Ever. I'm told it will be near the top of 2008 industry performance. Back to our ongoing poker analogy, it's comparable to 7th place in this year's World Series of poker, and 4th place in the 2007 event. And there's no profit sharing as it's my own private fund. It's still just a blur and hasn't sunk in.

Right now, my only memories are those I mentioned in last night's video, as it's incredibly easy to remember the hurts and pains. For now, I don't remember the wins. None. Perhaps that's because the fictitious draw concept is so ingrained in my mind, I think they're always ahead of me.

I now know how Michael Phelps' mental state felt near the end -- emotionally drained and spent -- and understand why he didn't set foot in a pool for a few months after the Olympics. At the moment, I just want to lie on a warm beach for a month (although the market would have to be closed). In trading, there are no off-seasons ... just fast and slow seasons. We have to create our own off-season. That too, will be hard. Usually, the market or our performance dictates the off-season.

And so I present the following Bamboo whose 1-year moonshot was more than a decade in the making (click to enlarge):

Yes, it's real and 100% auditable. It's not like the Newhart show finale were Bob wakes up next to Emily after nine years at the Vermont Inn and realizes it's all a dream. At least I'd better not wake up in 1999 tomorrow ... that would be sick.

It's said a picture says a thousand words. That's good, because I may be out of them, other than to say I hope this provides inspiration for all who may doubt themselves -- regardless of their pursuit -- and all who are weary.

Many told me to write a book. I thought the blog would be better. But that will be true only if we someday see a forest of Bamboos.

May God richly bless you and your families during this Holiday season and into 2009.

Thanks to those who took the time to comment on last night's video. I'll take them to heart and will continue to post reflections over the weekend and coming weeks as 2008 draws to a close. Something tells me I'm not going away.

Also, Part 2 of my TradingMarkets interview with David Penn has now been posted.


Anonymous said...

Hi Don,

Congratulations on such an outstanding year! Wow - very inspirational!

Thanks for taking us along on this incredible journey of yours Don. And hopefully you'll be able to continue sharing with us in the future.

Best Wishes,

E-Mini Player said...

Amazing performance Don! I don't know what to say, except Congratulations and thanks again for sharing the ride! Your blog is a source of motivation and inspiration for us. Have a nice and safe holiday and I look forward to more posts from you into the new year!

MikeH said...

Awesome Don.

This blog sells nothing but gives you everything you need.

Don Miller said...

Nor will it ever sell anything Mike :-).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, your diary helps a lot of people to realize about the human side of trading.
Trading is an endeavor in which one must perfect his human side in order to survive and you are doing great!

RexVulgaris said...

Superb and consistent.. congrats.

The challenge now is can you maintain those % stats on larger size?

man thats a whole new struggle and do you actually want or need to take it on?


Don Miller said...

Thanks everyone.

I'm not sure what I'll do in 2009 Rex. I'm torn between increasing size on the 2008 balance and taking on another simpler challenge for a while like growing a $50K account into $250K.

I certainly don't need the money, but increasing size with the existing balance is certainly something I've considered.

Regardless, at the age of 47, I expect to tuck a good portion of this year's balance away.


socal trader said...

Don- Congratulations on your outstanding achievement! You've been an inspiration to so many of us and I am so glad that I was able to find your blog early on.

Anonymous said...

210%? congrats- but surely that wont be near the top.

i know many traders who nailed 1000x+% years in 2008

Don Miller said...

Anon -

And I'll be truly happy for them. I only measure myself against my personal goals and care solely about the personal net income $.

At the risk of stating the obvious, ROR %s alone means little, as turning $1K into $11K is a 1000% return. Been there, done that.

Yet I imagine there are many legitimate bamboos far higher than mine, and that is a wonderful thing.


Anonymous said...

Hello Don,
Congratulation on a great year. I think this will be a source of inspiration
and motivation for years to come.

I think that is a fantastic Idea on growing an account from $50K to $250K.
As you know a lot more people would be able to relate to that then
starting out with a quarter of a million. They could no longer use that as a crutch.
“Oh sure, if I had that to start with”.

I do concur that would be smart to put most of this years earnings away, at any age though. If anything we did learn this year is the Black Swan lives.

On a favor note since I have just found you a short time ago and still am in
catch up mode. There are times that I read you use a 1 minute as well as a 5 minute and 15 minute chart. On other occasions I read you draw reference to a 30 minute as well as
a 60 minute chart. I also know you use 3LB as well as Tick, Vix, moving averages etc. I think it would be fantastic if there was one area where you listed everything you use. Normally I would not ask this of someone being that it may fall under ‘secrets of a great chef’, however since you already have secured your future and do not intend on selling anything I will indulge myself and ask if you would.

Thanks for sharing,


Anonymous said...

"I'm told it will be near the top of 2008 industry performance" - infers comparing yourself to others not you against yourself.

$1mil into 18$ mill at my shop for biggest hitter here

again- congrats - big win 210%.

i like the blog

Don Miller said...

Sam - No problem, keeping in mind as I've said throughout the blog, there are may successful ways to "paint the blank canvas" and certainly no hidden secret "ingredients". I'll look to do so in a future post.

Anon - Outstanding! My bad if the comment was misinterpreted.

My suggestion for traders looking to compare their personal performance against industry benchmarks and managed money is to check out Futures Magazine, which has some of the best bonafide CTA & industry benchmarking performance statistics around which they publish monthly. [Pere Trading Group for example, stood out with a 337% YTD return thru September].

Such has been my broker's source for personal performance benchmarking, although I again think traders are best to compete against themselves. Nevertheless, the benchmarking data can shed some decent comparative light on how one's doing.


MM said...

Truly remarkable and inspiring!!

Don, you are one of the finest examples of what can be accomplished with dedication, discipline, and a love for the markets.

Enjoy your well deserved Christmas holidays.