Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Weekend Trader - The Blue Wall Part 1

On my way to Foxwoods yesterday morning to refresh and clear the mind at the card table, I had a lot of time to think by myself, while listening to a highly inspirational message that reminded us that we've all been given the gift of a limited amount of time in this temporary "tent" we call earth ... a gift that we could lose at any moment.

Key excerpts from the message included the following:

Queen Elizabeth said on her deathbed, "I would give my entire kingdom for just one more day"; and:Imagine every morning your bank deposited $86,400 into your account, and the money was yours to use as you wished, and the only catch was that whatever money you didn't use by the end of the day, you'd lose. If that were the case, you'd likely be focused and purposeful, and not let one penny go to waste because it's valuable. It's the same thing with time, for each day we're all given 86,400 seconds to spend as we like. We can invest it by living positive, hopeful, pursuing our goals, helping others, or we can waste it by being disorganized, unfocused, unhappy, negative, defeated or discouraged.

Wow ... talk about reflection time. Have I at times fallen into the "wasting" category? Absolutely. In fact, even to this day I still do. Yet as I get older and approach 50, I at least tend to more fully see the difference in what I'll call effective "human production" when living each day in the first category.

So what thoughts did this message trigger in my head? Here are a few.

First, I wonder how a trader who has acquired the skill would trade if told he/she only had three months to live. My guess it that he or she would trade with no fear and likely reap the bounty of their lives.

Second, I wonder how people in general -- including me -- might live their lives if told the same thing. My guess is that we'd tend to actually live more positively, especially when backed by an unwavering faith that we indeed do live in a temporary tent that will ultimately be packed up before moving to our true and final home of permanency. And such positive actions would hopefully plant seeds for other positive actions.

At my end, for some reason I've been placed in the very unique position of having a highly public profile in an industry that is full of greed, fear, distrust, cynicism, and skepticism ... with even myself being at the top of the list of skeptics with regard to some areas. It's also an industry that relies heavily on the Internet where myths, untruths, bloggers, and anonymous posters can have a field day blurring the lines beyond myth and reality, as the term "editor" has gone the way of non-steroidal baseball. And I'm smack dab in the middle of it.

And yes, I fully accept the attributes that come with being put in such a position, including accepting the rare, but inevitable barbs from the tiny minority of those who disagree with everything from my trading style, to my trying to help improve the educational side of this business of which I've been highly critical, to my wanting to give a portion of the educational proceeds to a worthy cause.

And speaking of which, believe it or not, I actually received an email from someone yesterday stating my donating to the ADA was, "throwing that money away" and that "Sickness is a multibillion dollar business and that will not be jeopardized by the finding of a cure." Egads ... I guess we should all just fold up our tents and cower. On the other hand, I received another email from a more rational optometrist, stating, "Thank you and I have to tell you, your donation to the ADA is very appreciated. I'm an optometrist and I've seen first hand how devastating it can be to one's sight." Welcome to my world.

Have we really lost that powerful vision that Jimmy V had whe he spoke at the 1993 ESPY awards those 16 years ago??

Frankly, I've never understood why some in this world will stare at a blue-painted wall and call it red until they truly convince themselves it's red. And then they'll try to convince others that it's red ... using every tool and argument they can muster. Or they'll simply state it's impossible, too hard, or too expensive to paint a wall blue ... or that it can't be done unless one was a member of the union of professional blue painters.

Perhaps it's because they simply hate blue (btw, nothing will ever change that), or just that they enjoy unproductive habit of believing the glass is always 1/2 empty vs. 1/2 full. Or perhaps they're simply in denial. All I know is that they can call the wall red all they want, and the wall will always remain blue. btw, there are huge trading implications to this analogy as it's likely that such people will never become successful traders and will often be the unfortunate losing "squeezees" as they try to short the "blue" moonshot, or spend more time finding fault with the color blue instead of shopping for cost-effective blue paint or improved eyeglasses, or accepting the fact that they may simply be color-blind.

At my end, my goal in life isn't to be liked or disliked. It never was and never will be. For years ago I was placed in a public trading role, before going off the grid a few years ago to focus on my own needs and ambitions, before realizing that simply serving oneself -- while being the easy road in terms of not having to deal with the complexities that comes with public exposure -- wasn't exactly helping anyone other than, well, myself.

So I bit the bullet, and again chose to open myself up to the doubters and skeptics to prove once and for all that a certain level of success can be achieved under the right conditions of personal focus and commitment, while remaining steadfast that opening myself up once again could hopefully make a small difference in the trading "community". Yet in doing so, keep in mind that I'll never waste limited and precious energy defending the blue wall, lest we waiver from more important tasks at hand.

Then what is my goal? Easy. It's essentially to do better today than yesterday, and to do better tomorrow versus today. And that's probably not a bad way to approach both life and trading.

The other day, Tim Bourquin contacted me about a trader who going through a very rough time and asked if I could help. So I gave him my direct phone number, spoke with him at length one evening, and provided him with some materials and counseling without asking or looking for anything in return. And during yesterday's two hour drive home, I spent the majority of the time talking to a trader who simply wanted to chat.

You see for some, a phone call and helping hand is the only help needed. For others, the blog seems to help, while yet others benefit from an abbreviated formal course to compliment other education, and still others require a full immersion college-like experience as they prepare to launch a new career.

So what are my long term plans as I near the sixth decade of my life? I'm not sure, as every day we're given the gift of personal choice and free-will. At my end, I could decide at any time to stop trading, blogging, and/or the current interim phase of trying to make a difference on the educational side. Yes, blogging does take energy, and I do have other unfulfilled aspirations falling in the category of climbing Mount Everest, playing in the World Series of Poker, and going on an extensive tour of Europe with my wife.

Yet as all of those latter choices seem to fall into the selfish category, and given the overwhelming response to continue our current journeys, I for now remain steadfast in our efforts. And when I do decide to perhaps move on to something else, it will be at the time of my own choosing. For the mountain will always be there, and Doyle Brunson still plays pretty darn well as the age of 76.

Are our current efforts perfect?

I'll answer that by asking if that wall is really red.

And I imagine if you look real closely, you'll see a few imperfections in the blue paint job, just as my car Grace still shows. For those new to the blog, here's the important story of my car Grace.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, including all 86,400 seconds of today.

And in the words of Jimmy V, "Don't ever give up."

Click here for Part 2 of "The Blue Wall".