Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Continual Discovery

Sunday night's edition of 60 Minutes (also viewable on the web) devoted two thirds of its show to chronicling the life and travels of Robert Ballard, the world reknown explorer who discovered the Titantic, the Bismarck, and PT 109.

At the end of the story, there was this following exchange between interviewer Lara Logan and Mr. Ballad:

One of the things we noticed about Ballard as we tried to keep up with him darting around his ship is that he still has the enthusiasm of a man fulfilling his boyhood dream.

It turns out the shipwreck he discovered during our visit was a rare find: only one wreck from the 7th century has ever been excavated in its entirety, and that was 50 years ago. This wreck appears to be better preserved, and archaeologists are excited by the possibility that it could shed new light on one of the most important periods in maritime history.

"In all these years, is it the same passion now that inspires you" Logan asked.

"Oh yes, of course. Discovery is an unbelievable, unbelievable feeling," Ballard said.

"And it never loses its magic?" Logan asked.

"No, because it always could beat the last one," Ballard said. "People say, 'What is your greatest discovery?' And I say, 'It's the one I'm about to make.'"

In a nutshell, this closing exchange aptly described why I -- and likely many others -- pursue trading.

Fulfilling a boyhood dream. The journey of self-discovery. The inspiring passion. They all fit. Especially as I now gear up for what may be my final and toughest journey as referenced in the last few blog posts.

You see for me, this business is about constant discovery. Certainly discovery about the markets, yet more importantly, discovery about who we are.

At my end, the last few years have been an incredible period of discovery. For in the last two years alone, I've discovered the following:

- Focus all of your energies on a specific mission and target, and you can be as good as anyone in your field of interest. ANYone.

- I'm human. Duhh! You can't sustain peak levels of performance without at least one extended break each year. As I've said before, the summer of 2009 taught me why sports have off-seasons.

- Continual multi-tasking may result in you being a jack of many trades, but a master of few. While the Jellie participants and their brokers will probably disagree, I imagine that at times my continual and simultaneous mentoring & trading ended up sub-optimizing both. Nevertheless, since I believe that the only bona-fide and credible way to teach this biz is to do so live on an extended basis (would you ever listen to a smoking doctor tell you to stop smoking??), it's still undoubtedly the best approach.

- Motivation fuels focus, and in turn, peak performance. When I'm motivated, I trade my best. When I'm not, I'm a combination of lazy, apathetic, and ... well, suffice it to say that I simply suck during those times.

- Motivation may need to change over time. Years ago, I was motivated to turn a highly successful executive corporate career into an equally successful trading career. Then, early in my "new" career, I was motivated to migrate my trading abilities from stocks, to ETFs, and finally, to futures.

Then I was motivated to speak to others about the challenges of such a transition via a host of speaking, writing, and interview engagements. Later, I was motivated to go off the "grid" to focus 100% on optimizing my own trading, before being motivated to share my live journey via this diary (with its own crazy movie & sports parables for motivation) while throwing out a crazy Million dollar target at the age of 47 to further fuel the competitive juices.

Then, when my brain said "enough", I was motivated to establish and train a trading team to recapture my own passion and look at this business through another lens, while allowing others to benefit as they began/continued their own journeys.

And now, I'm motivated to complete what I believe will be the final leg of my trading journey ... that of placing some substantial, sizable bets at high probability times, while at the same time protecting that which I've worked so long to build after the last dozen or so years.

I'll talk more about the evolution in size as it evolves, yet for now I'm working on closing the year the way I began it ... with as perfect a month as possible to book-end 2009, while using the post-Jellie consistency as the springboard for January's changes.

I'm sure I'll discover more about myself and the markets over upcoming months.

Yet like Robert Ballard, if you were to ask me what my greatest trade was, I'd say "It's the one I'm about to make".