Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Guest Jellie Writer #3

For the third time, it's one of the Jellies' turn to again take the virtual pen and give this trader the evening off from writing. I think the piece is especially enlightening since I lectured the group on focus at the end of today! Enjoy.


Focus & The "Cool Hand"

Have you got your mind right, Luke?
Yes sir, Boss. I got it right. I got it right.
Are you sure, Luke? You ain't gonna backslide on me are yuh? You sure your mind's right?
Yes suh, Boss. Please. Please don't hit me no more.

The above exchange between Luke (Paul Newman) and the Captain of the prison is from the 1967 classic "Cool Hand Luke".

There are many facets to having one’s “mind right” when it comes to trading. One component eloquently and sometimes loudly emphasized by Don to the Jellies is the importance of Focus. What is focus? Why is it important? And how might we enhance it and minimize distractions?

Tim Gallwey, the author best known for writing the classic, The Inner Game of Tennis, speaks of focus as “the quintessential component of superior performance in every activity, no matter what the skill level or age of the performer”.

The reality is we do our best when we are centered on task. This is no surprise. What's most interesting is not that focus equals results, but something more indirect. If we’re focused, it’s as though all the “other stuff” is out of the way. All those fears, concerns, and doubts are no longer influencing the outcome of our efforts. When we’re focused we’re in a way too busy to notice all the gremlins that can hinder performance.

Legendary futures trader, Richard Dennis, commented on trading by saying, “there’s less here than meets the eye”. Could this be another way our success is diminished is by losing focus? Perhaps our conscious mind emerges and does everything it can to over complicate this endeavor we call trading.

Themes I’ve taken from the tank to enhance focus include:

1. Simplicity. Don often responds to our queries about the relevance of some indicator or news item with “TMI”. Too much information. Less information can allow us to focus more effectively on the most important indicator of all, price.

2. Play. Don speaks to trading having a great deal in common with poker. Structure this endeavor so the learning process is enjoyable, even before the profits begin. Remember, focus is aligned with interest. Also do our best to travel this journey with as little pressure as possible. Our interest is then focused because we want it to be, rather than because it has to be to meet some monetary objective. For example, Don often speaks to the merits of having a supplemental income -- if possible -- to pay the bills and mentally "assist" one’s futures trading.

Perhaps it’s simpler than we care to believe, and our mind is already right. We just have to better nurture our focus. As a result, those fears and doubts will evaporate, and competence should ultimately follow.


And in case you missed it, here are the earlier first and second guest Jellie posts.