Over the years, traders have pointedly asked why they should spend so much money for Neuro-Linguistic (NLP) counseling to solve their trading problems. A fair number of these traders have gone through traditional therapy, taking months or years, of weekly and bi-weekly sessions that are relatively inexpensive per session. If these same traders have not achieved the results they wanted through such an extended therapy, how can I justify asking for a major financial commitment for two days of work? An excellent question, I will begin my answer by telling one of my favorite stories:
A ship breaks down just before getting ready to take off on a long trip. The engineers try all of their usual tricks to get it started, but nothing works. Just then, a clever but naive young engineer decides to look in the yellow pages. He remembers a TV commercial that said that you could find anything there. Low and behold, he finds an ad for a man who claims that he can fix any ship. The young engineer called this Mr. Fixit and told him that many people would be grateful if he would come to look at the ship and see what he could do. Soon, the man appeared on board. With only a hammer in hand, he descended to the boiler room, and appraised the situation for a long minute. Then, he lifted his hammer and tapped. Immediately, the ship started. While everyone was jumping with joy and gratitude, the man reached out his hand and said, ?That will be a thousand dollars.? In disbelief that anyone would charge a thousand dollars for one minute?s work, the captain shouted, ?I want an itemized statement!? ?Absolutely,? replied the man, scribbling out an invoice and handing it to the captain. The invoice read,
$1.00 for tapping
$999.00 for knowing where to tap
Psychological Changes Happen Instantly
Just as it is important to know where to tap to get machinery to work, it is important to know where to tap when you need to get people to work efficiently and effectively. All dramatic psychological changes take place in an instant. Getting to the point where that change can take place is what takes time. How much time it takes for the dramatic change to occur depends on the facilitator?s experience, training, and knowledge to determine where and how to tap – and on the desire of the client to allow it to happen. This principle forms the basis of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Doing the ?Trader Tap?
In spite of a good methodology, in the end, a trader?s success is all about his ability to tap his psychology into taking the trade. When a trader has psychological blocks because of fear, he will sabotage his method and himself. The decision-making moment is defined by a trader?s ability to face the demons of the past and the pictures he creates of failure or success in the future. Just like a good tap dancer flows from one step to the next, the same flow has to exist for a trader to get the most out of his system.
Michael was a good trader; but when he had a high level of stress, he would revert back to being a vulnerable child. This pattern created indecision and sabotaged his results. When Michael first started trading, these stressful moments would occur as infrequently as once a year. After years of trading, however, he began to suffer from episodes as often as twice a month. He called me when these episodes began occurring even more frequently. Michael had good reason to develop more stress in his life. His new baby son was diagnosed with autism and the child?s condition absorbed all of his wife?s attention, making her exhausted and depressed. When Michael came home at night, his wife made his life miserable through her complaints and demands.
In addition to dealing with Michael?s present situation, we also had to deal with the issues from the past that caused his moments of sabotage.
When Michael spoke to me about his life, it would seem by his programming that he should have been destined for greatness. There did not seem to be anything that would hamper great success, but intuitively I felt that there was. So, I did what I call ?one-upmanship counseling.? This is accomplished by going through a series of stories about issues that other traders have had that have held them back and watch for some reaction. When a client feels compelled to speak about a situation that is similar in his life, I listen. Michael?s unconscious responded. He talked about an incident from his childhood where a summer camp counselor took him aside and proceeded to coerce him into inappropriate behavior. As Michael spoke of this incident he was detached from his feelings, as if the incident had no effect on him. Later, in an altered state, this situation proved to be traumatic and the cause of his not feeling worthy of achieving success.
Learning Where to Tap
I started studying psychology while going through a difficult divorce. My husband was suffering from the psychological effects of serving in the Vietnam War. Feeling helpless and vulnerable, I decided that I needed to understand the workings of the mind. I wanted to understand how a normal human could instantly change into a troubled person by experiencing one or more horrifying moments. If a person could change in a negative way so quickly, I was convinced that he could change quickly in a positive way, as well.
At first, I investigated various forms of ?talk psychology.? In typical ?talk psychology,? a person needs to discover ?why? problems occur. This discovery period can take a long time. Too often, the discovery has little effect on making dramatic changes. Then, I started studying hypnosis and found that while it was useful, it had to be used in conjunction with other types of psychology to be effective. Ericksonian hypnosis led me to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). While I have found that all forms of psychology have been useful for me to study, NLP is the fastest and most effective way to make changes. Once a skilled NLP practitioner learns how people have programmed themselves, knowing where to tap makes dramatic change immediate and effective.
In working with traders, I have often revisited the horrors of Vietnam. Many of the men with whom I have worked have gone through years of therapy, only to have nightmares and daymares that continued to affect their lives. Recently, I received the following e-mail from a client who had come for work after experiencing years of war flashbacks and trading sabotage. Peter has allowed me to quote from his letter:
?First of all, I must tell you that since I saw you, I have had NO, NONE, ZERO, ZILCH FLASHBACKS, and my decision-making ability has returned to peak form. Even my wife tells me the money was well spent. I just wish I?d done it sooner. Last year was my best overall business year since I started my own business.?
As dramatic as the results are that this letter spells out, it is by no means extraordinary. Of course, Peter was highly motivated, and a client?s motivation is the second most important ingredient in the formula. But, once a trader makes up his mind that he is willing to work on the issues that are blocking his success, there is no stopping him when he applies the right method.
So, here are the questions you might want to be asking yourself?
1. Do I have a trading block or pattern of self-sabotage that is preventing me from reaching my goals? If you are unsure of the answer, you can answer in the affirmative if you have a pattern of giving back to the market as much or more every time you have a successful trade or series of trades; or if you have done everything you need to do and more to create a successful trading business but continue to fail to reach your objectives; or if you find yourself engaged in self-destructive behaviors such as gambling, excessive drinking, taking drugs, putting your marriage and home in jeopardy, abusing your health, etc.
2. Have I been putting off dealing with this problem because I believe that I cannot afford the time and money involved?
3. Do I lack confidence in anyone?s ability to help me? Have I had a bad experience in the past (or someone close to me has had a bad experience) in which I spent a lot of time and money in counseling, without the benefit of a major change in the problem?
4. Could my trading results benefit greatly from a process that could transform a long-standing problem, issue, or pattern if that process were very fast and effective? In other words, how much money am I losing and how much money am I failing to make each year because of these unresolved issues?
5. Am I willing for a change to take place, and to do whatever I need to do in my own attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to ensure that it is a lasting change?
6. Or do I have too much at stake in maintaining the status quo, regardless of how much unhappiness it creates for me and those closest to me?
The Bottom Line
The bottom line in paying for a counseling service should be the same one a trader applies to any of the many services and support systems he buys. What is the risk-reward ratio? In other words, how does the cost of the service I?m paying for compare to the financial benefits it confers? If you are paying more for a service than you are benefiting financially from it, it is a bad investment. If, for example, you pay a thousand dollars for a trading service and you see no incremental increase in your profits, you have made an unwise investment. On the other hand, if you invest in a resource that increases your profits many times that investment, you have chosen wisely.
Last year, I had a highly motivated client who increased his trading results from $75,000 annually to $3,000,000 in the first year and over $10,000,000 annually in the second year. If you think that these results represent a major benefit from money expended, you are quite right. Do you think a weekend of hard work with an NLP counselor was a wise investment for him? Do you think that he made a solid commitment to getting results and maintaining them? While this particular client was unusually motivated, it is not unusual to see dramatic improvement in trading results after counseling.
Finding the Right Counselor
As much as I would like to say that I am the right person to help every trader, this is clearly not the case. In order to find the person who knows exactly where to tap, each trader has to find the right counselor who is the right fit for him and for his unique situation. Just as I do not accept everyone who calls as a client, a trader must have a solid set of criteria for selecting a counselor:
- Does this counselor have a track record in working with traders who have similar problems?
- Have I checked his/her references and spoken with others who have worked with him/her?
- Did someone that I know and trust refer me?
- Have I heard this counselor speak or have I read anything he/she has written so that I know something about him/her?
- Do I feel that we are compatible and that I can work with this person? Do I have enough confidence in this person to accept what he/she says and to do what I am asked to do?
If you are wondering how to solve a trading sabotage problem and you are reluctant to spend the money on counseling, you need to consider the cost of not working on your problems. Should you decide to continue on your present path, you need to consider what the cost is to you versus the cost of one-time counseling. But, remember this caveat, knowing where to tap in a trader, regardless of how much it costs and how quickly it can be accomplished, is a team venture. Unlike a piece of machinery, tapping the right place in a trader works quickly and efficiently, only if the trader is willing to do his part.