Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Tomorrow is Today

Labor Day Weekend.

Traditionally, it's the artificial demarcation point that separates "summer" and "fall" trading. And this year, it's also the starting line that separates my getting personally serious again about trading. Yet before the starting gun goes off, I need to take one last look at "What I Did During My Summer Vacation".

For me, the summer of 2009 will forever go down in my memory as the inner tearing down and rebuilding of Don Miller ... in part by choice, and in part by circumstance. For on the heels of a record all-out, non-stop run, a mental wall, fatigue, and that famous & literal bump on the head "hit" me (pun intended) out of nowhere. The guy who far surpassed his lifelong goal and topped the industry in 2008, couldn't lose in January '09, and barely lost in Q1 2009 suddenly appeared mortal. No scratch that ... I was the epitome of mortality.

Of course, sometime in May (I forget exactly when), I essentially shut down the inner personal race that had been extended far beyond the initial one-year plan as the result of continuing, albeit waning personal performance momentum, and essentially stopped keeping score. The mind and body simply screamed "enough", and ultimately led me to other efforts which became far more important than simply maximizing personal income.

If you recall, I repeatedly stated during the record run that I knew trading in such a "prolonged zone" wouldn't and couldn't last, yet it continued month after month in an absurd fashion until finally fading. Similarly, during this summer of retooling and focus on people other than myself, I knew the inner engine would shift out of neutral and into gear, yet the exact timing was likewise unknown.

Yet before continuing, perhaps it's best to briefly go back to my post of June 25th:


Yup, I bleed red just like everyone else. Reminds me again of that scene in Rocky IV when Ivan Drago finally gets cut and the announcers scream "The Russian is bleeding" and then Duke turns to Rocky and says, "He's worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He's not a machine, he's a man!"

As most should know my now, I view trading as a competitive mental sport, where performance momentum begets momentum. We saw that in spades last year with an avalanche of profit day after day and month after month. And right now, I'm trying like hell to hold back the rolling snowball so it doesn't become an avalanche in the other direction.

Which brings us to Rule #244 in The Tao of Poker that reminds us that such extended periods happen for professional athletes, and that there's not "something wrong with the universe" when it happens. A reminder this is why I floored it 24x7x52 last year ... lest we forget
yesterday's key video about the need for "outliers".

OK, so what am I going to do about it??

Essentially nothing. I'm the same person I was in 2008, and am simply going to keep breathing and swinging, knowing that at some point the performance momentum will again turn in my favor, at which point I plan to again floor the accelerator. I also look at May and June as bit of a "Perfect Storm" in terms of my being tested in both the market and in my personal life.

So that's going to be how I spend my summer vacation ... one step at a time.


And so I did. And in doing so, I chose to try to improve on what I strongly feel are significant educational deficiencies in this industry by again putting my actions where my mouth was and devoting myself to building as intense a developmental experience I could think of based on 100% transparency. In doing so, the idea was to jump-start the engine of not just this one trader ... but the engines of multiple traders simultaneously.

I suppose such is the case with life. We take it one step at a time, not knowing how long current circumstances will last. Yet we do know one thing with certainty. The circumstances will always be temporary. The good, the bad ... they're all just single pages in the book we call life.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm even here, as I was the second of two children -- yet only after my parents experienced a devastating stillbirth before somehow finding the inner strength and faith to try yet again.

And like everyone, there were other challenges along the way. I was born while my mother was experiencing chicken pox (not a good thing), had severe asthma as a kid, missed most of my junior year in high school due to a mono-like virus, then missed our High School basketball championship run due to a broken ankle while working on my comeback. Later in life, there were other setbacks including rocky career transitions, almost losing my wife to a massively burst appendix (it had gone gangrene) and subsequent infection, and then learning only a month later that at the age of 10, my youngest daughter Chelsea -- whose weight had been dropping at an alarming rate -- was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and would be forever dependent on insulin ... thus my passion for supporting the American Diabetes Association with some of the Jellie proceeds. Here's her own inspirational story as published on the front page of the local paper last year if you've missed it.

And this doesn't even touch on the trading highs and lows.

Yet thankfully, we're given a world of tomorrows. Tomorrows that give us an opportunity to do even better than yesterday. Tomorrows that at this end -- with God's strength -- have somehow given me the time to overcome every challenge thrown in front of me. Examples include overcoming my senior year illness and injury to set summer league scoring records the following year, rising to the top of three companies, seeing my wife bounce back in a major way -- recently losing 75 pounds and regaining her health and vigor, and currently watching Chelsea enter her senior year in High School as an accomplished athlete and violinist, as well as the leading candidate for valedictorian when she graduates next spring. No pressure kid! And yes, the competitive streak runs strong in our family.

For the rainbow will always appear after the storm, just as the joy of Easter will always follow the pain of Good Friday. And while the timing of personal rainbows is always uncertain ... just as the extent of the Bamboo heights is ... there is certainty that there are always things more powerfully at work in our lives than we'll ever know.

And so we all begin the new trading season with a blank page ... and at this end, with a new engine. For my capital is essentially fully in tact from the record run, my body feels good with my weight down from 201 to 187 in three short weeks (on its way to 180) and eating healthier than I ever have, and having spent the last few months assembling and training a team and support network that's about ready to step out on the playing field in the regular season. For now we begin to find out if the needs of the many indeed outweigh the needs of the few ... or the one.

Yes, from a scorecard perspective, both the personal run and break lasted longer than I expected. Yet I believe there's a greater scorecard at work in our lives that we may never fully understand. And in the end, that's the only score that matters.

All is know is this:

Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow starts today.

Let's take advantage of it ... in trading and in life.