The fate of a trader

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Old Sep 27, 2008, 11:12am   #1
 
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The fate of a trader

It is a sad point to make but I believe that the best traders have given up a lot to get where they are - much more so than many people realise.

In 1870, William Worthington Fowler wrote:

When once a man has fairly committed himself to speculation, his imagination soon grows to lend a hideous fascination to the objects of his pursuit. An evil genius seems to hold possession of him. He takes no note of time, save as an interval between his gains and losses; the thrill of the one and the pain of the other, grow duller as the years wear away, until at length he becomes the optimum eater of finance, living in a world peopled by phantoms which haunt his waking hours, and flit through his dreams. The unsubstantial pageant vanishes as the alarm bell of his ruin peals out, and he awakens to the desolation of reality.

The story of the whole shifting tribe of operators is little else than a dreary catalogue of losses - losses, not of money alone, but of health, character, heart and life.


When I read this passage I think of the bankrupt Livermore who ended up, after being unable to scare up a stake to make his lost fortune back, losing the will to go on and taking his own life.

Of Michael Marcus, who turned a $30,000 stake into an $80 million dollar fortune but as Thomas Bass noted in his book, "The Predictors": "His wife left him, but Marcus was too busy to notice."

I don't remember the name of the particular trader - but one from the Market Wizards trilogy that said his one wish in life was that he had spent more time with his children rather than isolating himself from then when they were in their formative years - being that untouchable father that never had any time for his children because of his obsession with the markets.

That's what it is for many of us and that is why I am writing this. When I am losing with big positions in the markets (I have been long indices for several days) I can think of nothing but where the market might open. When I am winning, I can think of nothing but the future. So I am never in the present.

And the life of a trader at times seems to be a life with a whole series of regrets: We regret what we lost. More often, we regret what we might have made but did not.

If we remove ourselves from our emotions than we are nothing more than a shell.

And yet still this is what we strive to do.

But when I do that, does it help or does the problem just manifest itself in other ways? With no fear and no greed, I am a money making machine but I am that because I work in isolation - studying charts all day, refusing to talk with or listen to others opinions - watching the markets in the dead of night when everyone is asleep and all I have to keep me company is a flashing price on a screen. And when loved ones talk to me it seems like my mind is never with them but always with the market.

I started my initial thread "Making Money Trading" to help people along the path faster and taught it on the TFS (Weekly, daily) that will ultimately give you that freedom to devote to the more important things in life.

But nothing is ever black and white and the spirit of the game can take you away from what is important in life.

I just wanted to write this because it is what I am feeling but also because I am sure that whether they reply to this post or not, there are others that do or have felt the same.

Tom
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Last edited by trader_dante; Sep 27, 2008 at 12:45pm.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 11:37am   #2
 
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A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.

William James
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 12:38pm   #3
 
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Therefore, is it right that we lose our life and soul to a profession or, perhaps more suitable, a game which can only redestribute wealth and not create it?
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 12:46pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by new_trader View Post
A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.

William James

So the question is: What price are you willing to pay to try for genius?
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 12:49pm   #5
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An excellent very true post TD.

I doubt there is a successful trader out here who has not gone through what you have just posted. Once the market gets its claws into you, it is very difficult to set yourself free.

This applies to most people, myself included, because their is no clear direction in the beginning. Though there are some that come in for a taste and leave before the market takes grip.
The constant emotional bouncing from wins to losses becomes comfortable and soon we hide these emotions under a different name, that of persistency, that we will crack this, no matter what. We always seem very close to the answer but it always eludes us. WE go through many stage of development, sometimes kidding ourselves that we know what we are doing. Occasionally we get more satisfaction from being right and for that moment the money stops being an issue, until we go back to live trading again and find that we are still at square one.

There is no clear definition as to when we come through the other side, I expect there are thousand of different reasons as each trader finds his own answer. Unfortunately many never do and I wonder what affect the whole experience has had on them at a deeper level.

Mastering trading is like mastering life itself. Once you have found your answer so have you also managed to control and conquer your emotions, perceptions, reactions. There is a different outlook and a very satisfying freedom as you free yourself from chasing money. In fact just being free from the chase is worth more money, than the money itself.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 12:54pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trader_dante View Post
So the question is: What price are you willing to pay to try for genius?
It isn't a choice. That is the point.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 1:21pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trader_dante View Post
It is a sad point to make but I believe that the best traders have given up a lot to get where they are - much more so than many people realise.

In 1870, William Worthington Fowler wrote:

When once a man has fairly committed himself to speculation, his imagination soon grows to lend a hideous fascination to the objects of his pursuit. An evil genius seems to hold possession of him. He takes no note of time, save as an interval between his gains and losses; the thrill of the one and the pain of the other, grow duller as the years wear away, until at length he becomes the optimum eater of finance, living in a world peopled by phantoms which haunt his waking hours, and flit through his dreams. The unsubstantial pageant vanishes as the alarm bell of his ruin peals out, and he awakens to the desolation of reality.

The story of the whole shifting tribe of operators is little else than a dreary catalogue of losses - losses, not of money alone, but of health, character, heart and life.


When I read this passage I think of the bankrupt Livermore who ended up, after being unable to scare up a stake to make his lost fortune back, losing the will to go on and taking his own life.

Of Michael Marcus, who turned a $30,000 stake into an $80 million dollar fortune but as Thomas Bass noted in his book, "The Predictors": "His wife left him, but Marcus was too busy to notice."

I don't remember the name of the particular trader - but one from the Market Wizards trilogy that said his one wish in life was that he had spent more time with his children rather than isolating himself from then when they were in their formative years - being that untouchable father that never had any time for his children because of his obsession with the markets.

That's what it is for many of us and that is why I am writing this. When I am losing with big positions in the markets (I have been long indices for several days) I can think of nothing but where the market might open. When I am winning, I can think of nothing but the future. So I am never in the present.

And the life of a trader at times seems to be a life with a whole series of regrets: We regret what we lost. More often, we regret what we might have made but did not.

If we remove ourselves from our emotions than we are nothing more than a shell.

And yet still this is what we strive to do.

But when I do that, does it help or does the problem just manifest itself in other ways? With no fear and no greed, I am a money making machine but I am that because I work in isolation - studying charts all day, refusing to talk with or listen to others opinions - watching the markets in the dead of night when everyone is asleep and all I have to keep me company is a flashing price on a screen. And when loved ones talk to me it seems like my mind is never with them but always with the market.

I started my initial thread "Making Money Trading" to help people along the path faster and taught it on the TFS (Weekly, daily) that will ultimately give you that freedom to devote to the more important things in life.

But nothing is ever black and white and the spirit of the game can take you away from what is important in life.

I just wanted to write this because it is what I am feeling but also because I am sure that whether they reply to this post or not, there are others that do or have felt the same.

Tom
TD,

Possibly some of the hallmarks of addiction there. This is an interesting read:

Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search

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Old Sep 27, 2008, 1:24pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trader_dante View Post
So the question is: What price are you willing to pay to try for genius?
I agree with New Trader that the genius probably has little choice but to pursue his obsession.

However it doesn't take a genius to have success in trading BUT to have success in trading and life is a tough call and I think trader_Dante's post opens up the way for an important discussion.

By way of coincidence I see that the credit crunch has forced many pros to cease trading and some are looking for more 'fulfilling ' careers such as teaching.

BBC NEWS | Education | Finance workers head for teaching
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 2:45pm   #9
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"You`re only as good as tomorrows trade" ?
I have put in 12/16 hours a day for the last 8 months forget about the loss of a lot of money
to try and learn this game which is on like any other game ive done before as Its just me where before others could get envolved or you felt you where building something you can hand down. But have to say what ever game your in which your self employed it comes home with you it goes for a beer with you it sleeps with you and when some one is talking to you, you only hear then 70% or 90% of what they are saying cause they are only interrupting the game.
But next week i am going to change all this are i might leave it to the week after.
May be you only as good as your better than your da
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Last edited by doberman; Sep 27, 2008 at 2:56pm.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 3:26pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rols View Post
I think trader_Dante's post opens up the way for an important discussion.
Not necessarily questions everyone can answer - some of them are very personal questions and others will provoke controversy if discussed but but here are the things I think about and I suspect others do too:

At what cost should fortune come? What would you give up to be where you want to be? Would you betray a loved one? Would you give up time spent with those close to you that, unlike the markets, will not be around for ever? I suspect there is not a single person here that would be bold enough to say they would but deep down have you or are you already doing this?

What have you already given up to get where you are now? Is what you have given up irrecoverable? (perhaps you sacrificed time with a loved one who has now passed on)

At what point does the dream become elusive? Niederhoffer quotes Tom Wiswell in his book "Education of a Speculator": It is never too late to be the champion you always wanted to be; but the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, and the months turn into years, and before you know it...your dreams are gone with the wind.

If you were on your deathbed right now, what would be your biggest regret? Is it something that is in some way involved with trading? My mother told me once that she had an argument with my father right before he died. How was she to know that would happen? And yet one time time my mother rang me to say she was feeling down and wanted a chat, I was offside hugely on a trade and couldn't hear a word she was saying. The truth hurts sometimes and reality is hard to face.

Is the money you trade with needed by someone else? Most of us, I presume finance our trading with work (I worked as a web editor and I used my salary and later on part of my savings to finance speculation) but how many people trade with money earmarked for a childs education or money that might be needed to build a family? Yes it is up to the individual what they do and we should all trade with money we can afford to lose etc but how many do take that risk?
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Last edited by trader_dante; Sep 27, 2008 at 3:34pm.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 3:55pm   #11
 
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Well this is very interesting. But you know "genius" is a term often used for a specific area...Genius in math for eg can be a dummy in art etc. I assume we are talking "trading genius"? Is there such a thing?
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 4:03pm   #12
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This is why I don't trade forex. I trade 9 hours a day, 5 days a week; the rest of the time is spent pursuing my other passions and with people I care about. My mind has always been consumed by its interests and I have a complete inability to make small talk, all you need to do is make friends with a similar approach to their interests and they will understand where you are coming from. Luckily I find spending time with friends and family cathartic, otherwise I could easily see myself ending up alone.

edit: genius is a way of being, the field in which it is applied is irrelevant.

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Old Sep 27, 2008, 4:41pm   #13
 
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Life is about balance. If you're finding trading is consuming you (and you are concerned?) then perhaps you need to look at doing other things that focus your mind elsewhere. You can still be extremely good at something without needing to do it 24/7.

The problem can arise if you fail to succeed long-term at trading and it has been your life. It can become a massive loss (non-monetary) and a big impact on your ego, leading you down a path of depression. Similarly for any one thing that you commit a lot of energy to, whether it is a person, a career or a hobby.

(I'm sure some will say I'm talking **** so my reply is that perhaps they are talking ****. Saves me having to reply later.)
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 4:45pm   #14
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A very interesting thread TD. Some relevant quotes:

"Wishing will not bring riches. But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognise failure, will bring riches"

Napoleon Hill

"Do you know why you trade? Is it the fun and excitement, the sheer nerve-jangling, adrenaline rush that comes from trading the world's financial markets? Perhaps you enjoy the status of being a trader?

For some traders it's an escape. They hate the world around them - their job, their boss, their spouse, their whole life in fact. Trading then becomes a fantasy to slip into at will.

The fact is, trading has to be about one thing. Making a profit.

If you do it for any other reason, you are probably doomed to failure, because you'll operate from emotion instead of the cold, mechanical thinking that's the hallmark of a good trader. Look at your own motivations for trading . See if you can discover a hidden agenda. If there's something missing in your life that trading is currently filling, then you need to address that.

Live a balanced life. Don't spend the whole day trading. Meet people. Get out! Start a business. Find new interests.

Keep your trading desk free from emotional clutter."


Day trading mind.com

"Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't realise this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being.

To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important. This total reversal of the truth accounts for the fact that in the ego mode the mind is so dysfunctional. It is always concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it - who are you? It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of fulfillment or release there. It says 'One day, when this, that or the other happens, I am going to be okay, happy, at peace'. Even when the ego seems to be concerned with the present, it is not the present that it sees: It misperceives it completely because it looks at it through the eyes of the past. Or it reduces the present to a means to an end, an end that always lies in the mind-projected future. Observe your mind and you'll see that this is how it works.

The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the present moment as long as you ARE your mind"


Eckhart Tolle


imho trying to live a balanced life while learning to trade is pretty tricky given the screen time and practice required to become competent. There is a necessary sacrifice required to attain success. However knowing when to switch off is important.

Trading, by nature, is a solitary pursuit but this is where forums like T2W come in handy.

However once you can consistently make money, the balance can be restored. I like Danarm's style.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 5:50pm   #15
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Not having clearly defined rules and expectations is the biggest downfall
Like rag2riches says
Quote:
Trading, by nature, is a solitary pursuit but this is where forums like T2W come in handy.
However once you can consistently make money, the balance can be restored. I like Danarm's style.
Most people who come to trading think they can be the next livermore and lose sight of what trading can offer.
People have this idea of compounding and increasing their stake and making bigger trades, reading books on livermore and Buffet and Market wizards do more harm than good the inspire you with a sense of power and opportunity.
As I have said several times before trading is not Astro Physics its fairly straightforward and easy the only emotion you need to conquer is greed, how many times have you traded well in the morning to give it all back and more later.
The other quality you need to develop is patience. Watch and follow the NB thread, Phil waits for the trade to come to him and there are times when he calls it a day as he sees no opportunities.
Satisfaction and acceptance is illustrated very well by danarm quite simply it is possible to make 40/50 points a day just by following Phil or Danarm and this can be done before the morning is out'
Even if you were trading 2 pounds a point that is roughly an an income above the average U.K considering you don't have to pay tax on it.
If you were to forget about being the next Jesse and just treat trading as as a job which provides a means rather than an end you should do well.
The biggest problem with trading is we enjoy it too much ,if we treat it as a Job we would have a more successful outcome.
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