Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday Notes - Facing the Bridge

Just north of Vancouver, British Columbia (one of my favorite places to visit when I lived in the Seattle area in the 80s), you'll find the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge, which was originally built in 1889, stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above Capilano River.

It's an awesome wonder amidst the incredible beauty of nature. It's also scared me to death.

You see, I suffer from Acrophobia ... which is an irrational fear of heights. And while it's never kept me off an airplane (I've flown hundreds of flights over the years, and it's not as bad if I'm in a moving vehicle), tall buildings and -- yes -- narrow suspension bridges hundreds of feet above rocks, bother me.

Now you can imagine all of the trading analogies -- both conscious and subconscious -- which could literally and easily fill up dozens of blog posts. And yes, I'm confident there's a direct psychological effect on how I perceive my equity curve that contributed to my creation of the fictitious drawdown concept late in 2007, along with other conceptual ceilings over the years.

I loved that bridge. And I hated that bridge.

I did cross it once, but each subsequent time, I simply sat on the bench and allowed my guests to cross while I took pictures.

And so as I find myself facing the final trading challenge of my career -- trading major block sizes -- I'm admittedly reminded of my days in the beautiful Northwest when I visited that majestic site in North Vancouver.

I wish I could tell you the memory it brings back is that of the time I crossed the bridge. But today, it's not. For at this moment, the memory it brings back is that of standing in front of the bridge ... with camera in hand.

Today, I should have crossed the bridge. We had MATD (Morning After Trend Day), and I chose to look for the unsustainable break of the first hour range on which to short 400 contracts for a targeted 1.5 points. (I couldn't get size on the previous and more-preferred long fade into Monday's support when the economic data hit, as the price action was simply too rapid to go all-in at the time.) The Jellies will tell you such a sequence is one of my favorite high-probability entries and like a comfortable slipper for me that I could trade in my sleep. Hell, we even had divergences out the ying-yang. Volume, stochs, TICK ... you name it. In basketball terms, it was an unguarded lay-up. In "Capilano" terms, there was no wind and no one swaying the bridge.

Yet I hesitated as my focus slipped for the moment, perhaps because of a bit of a head cold, and by the time I acted, only got 75 on before price fell below which I felt was an acceptable high-probability wholesale entry price.

Sure, the trade was profitable, but that's of course not the point.

I knew this last jump in my trading wouldn't be easy. Dr. Brett highlights such a critical struggle in his own trading in his acclaimed book, The Psychology of Trading (page 264 of the chapter entitled "A Session at GunPoint"), and anyone who wants to psycho-babble their way through telling you there's no difference has likely never placed a trade in his/her life. And I respectfully ask for no "home remedy" emails of how to increase size over time ... I of course know what has to be done, have done it and taught it before, and simply need to follow through consistently.

The good news is I'm pi$$ed at today's "camera snapping" effort, and in the past, that's precisely the state of mind I need to move on.

For those new to the blog, a reminder that this personal journal is 100% reality and I'll never sugarcoat anything. You'll find no balloon boy or Tiger perfection marketed hype here. Frankly, right now I'm fighting one final, but extremely critical personal battle. The battle to make that quantum leap from seven to eight figures.

To get me to that "other side" of trading.

To get me to the other side of the bridge.

Don't look down.