Time to Change ?

In the 1970?s, I grew up with the Bradys. Bobby, Cindy, Marsha, Jan, Greg, Peter, they were all my friends. Not only did we all spend 30 minutes together every day, but I?m more than a little embarrassed to admit that we shared quite a bit of the same fashions.

It?s not difficult for me to recall an entire Brady Bunch story line after just a few seconds into a rerun. And I have to admit, I still get hooked whenever I see the Brady kids perform their songs with those unmistakable dance moves.

In my top 10 favorites is the episode where Peter Brady?s voice begins to crackle under the pressures of teenage adolescence. Because of this, the Brady children wrestle with dropping Peter from their upcoming singing performance. The family is in great turmoil. But then, Greg gets an amazing revelation. "I got it!" he declares (three times). Greg hides himself away in his bedroom and emerges with one of the Brady kids? most memorable hits, "Time to Change", which features Peter?s crackling voice. It?s a classic! You can check it out at:


(See the shirt that Bobby?s wearing? I had that shirt!)

Sometimes change is thrust upon us, like Peter?s pubescent fractured voice. Sometimes we choose change, because the path that we are walking down has simply become too painful. With regards to change that we choose, we only make a change when the pain of continuing on our current path exceeds the perceived pain of change. Let me say that again:

We only make a change when the pain of continuing on our current path exceeds the perceived pain of change.

What are the perceived pains of change? Essentially, they are the costs against our time, our talent, and our treasure.

The Cost of Change
We have three basic forms of currency in this life which we can utilize to better our own circumstances:

· Our Time
· Our Talent
· Our Treasure

The extent to which we access any or all of these resources indicates our level of commitment to change.

Alternatively, we tend to make hasty changes when we perceive the impact on any of our above resources to be minimal. For example, inexperienced traders will be quick to tweak some component of their indicators, like switching from a 10 day to a 30 day Moving Average, because this adjustment is quick and easy. It has virtually no impact on their time, their talent, or their treasure. The problem here, though, is that the change may not be justified. If the cost of the change were more severe, our inexperienced trader would allow his system more time to prove its merits.

The fact that change carries with it a set of costs is a good thing. It keeps us from jumping ship every time one little thing goes wrong. It may difficult to quantify, and it is different for each person, but there is a definite point at which the cost of change is warranted.

Counting the Cost
Several years ago, my wife and I hit a rough patch. The issues at hand were having a very real impact on our ability to communicate effectively and were becoming the source of great pain. We discussed the idea of counselling, but neither of us rushed into it. You see, the pain of the situation had not risen sufficiently high enough to exceed our perceived pain of change. What were our perceived (and typically unspoken) costs of change? :

· Time: "Do I really want to take the time drive to a counsellor?s office, spend an hour with him or her, and then drive home? That?s at least a weekly two hour commitment in an already busy schedule."
· Talent: "I?m sure counselling is going to involve homework where I have to read and work on bettering my communication skills and develop other relationship building skills. This is also going to be a drain on my emotions. Do I really feel like doing this?"
· Treasure: "Counselling costs how much? Wow, I had no idea."

My wife and I eventually reached the point where the pain of continuing on the existing path exceeded our perceived pain of change. Yes, counselling did take up a couple of hours each week for several weeks. Yes, I had to do some reading in order to better understand my behaviour. Yes, I had to learn the talent of setting clear and firm boundaries with others in my life to minimize the impact of their behaviour upon my marriage. And yes, I had to pay quite a bit of money to an expert who understood the nuances of our situation and could guide us back to a healthy marriage. But after going through this process and experiencing the healthy marital relationship that the investment of my time, talent, and treasure produced, I only regret that I put if off for so long!

Choosing Change
The issues we described to our counsellor did not shock him. After years of counselling he was completely familiar with our pattern of behaviour. In fact, he described having gone through a similar pattern of behaviour when he was a younger man. This filled me with hope that our situation could be overcome. It also revealed a shared experience which built a bond between the counsellor and me. It allowed him to speak more easily to my circumstance and affirmed our decision to choose change.
So many traders struggle with issues that are nothing new to someone who has experienced and learned to manage those problems. They engage in destructive patterns of behaviour which seem to enslave them, but yet they continue in that behaviour without seeking the help they need to overcome it. The pain of continuing on that path has not yet exceeded their perceived pain of change. What are their perceived pains of change?:

· Time: "My day is already full. How am I going to find the time to take that class?"
· Talent: "I?m probably going to have to relearn a lot of things to change my trading behaviour. Am I ready to challenge myself? Am I willing to do that kind of work?"
· Treasure: "This is going to require a financial investment in myself. Am I confident that it will pay off?"

Agents of Change
Perhaps you have reached the point where the pain of continuing on your current path of trading frustration exceeds your preconceived notions about the pain of change. What should you do now?

You can start by seeking out a class or program that speaks to your circumstance. Learn about the teacher/coach/mentor of the class. Does he or she have trading experience? I don?t think that this is an absolute requirement, but it certainly allows for that shared experience we talked about earlier. This is especially true if you are going to do one-on-one coaching.

When taking a class or choosing a coach, it?s important that you have a good rapport with your coach. There are several ways to help ensure this. Find a trading coach who shares your views and perspectives. For example, as a trader and a trading coach, I am very upfront about my Christian beliefs and my views on how the Bible and trading intersect. I teach from that position. If you are someone who is not necessarily opposed to the Bible, but don?t see it as a guidebook for all of life, then you would be better served by one of the several other very capable trading coaches.

Finally, reconcile the amount of time, talent, and treasure you will have to invest in your growth. Don?t commit to a program that you absolutely do not have the time for. That will only compound whatever issues you are facing. Understand that you are investing in yourself and your trading business. I?ve heard it said that, "The advice people don?t follow is the advice they don?t pay for." When you have skin in the game, you are far more likely to immerse yourself in the process.

When you?ve come to the point where the pain of walking down the current path of trading struggles exceeds your perceived pain of change, then count the cost of the change, choose to engage in the change, and find an agent of change. Once you get started, stay engaged and fully committed to doing the work required of you. After all, no one can change for you. When the work is done and you can sing a new song, you will wonder why you waited so long.

Bill Provenzano can be contacted at Upside Breakout

Bill Provenzano is a 20-year veteran trader of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and an equity owner at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange since 1992. Having made the transition from pit trading to screen trading, Bill understands the struggles that pit traders face in making that conversion.

Inspired by a sermon one Sunday morning, Bill created Upside Breakout, a biblically based coaching and mentoring program for traders seeking to raise their trading results to a higher level for a higher purpose.

Bill Provenzano is a 20-year veteran trader of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and an equity owner at the Chicago Merca...