I guess we should prefix by stating this is our general opinion. Many of us here at Positive Equity have played recreational sports but we also have some ex-sporting professionals in the office. These are just some of the things we have found in common.
1. YOU HAVE TO BE COMPETITIVE
Trading is a zero sum game. I bet you have heard that before. Even though you don’t see your competitors, they are out there. It is your JOB to be better than they are, and that means motivating yourself to work harder than they do. Our resident football player would tell us: “You always have to think of yourself as the best out there. You would never amount to anything unless you were more convinced than the other guy. No one will believe in you unless you believe in yourself”.
2. YOU HAVE TO BE QUICK
The difference between awesome opportunities and horrible losses can be how quick you are, especially when the market is volatile. Your skill is determined by how many different things you can keep track of at once, and how fast you can react to ever-changing market circumstances. This means not only being quick with a mouse, but also being quick to decide. Just like in sports: Do you shoot or pass? If you think about it too long you won’t be able to do either.
3. YOU NEED ENDURANCE
Just like the way you need to stay in the game for the whole 90 minutes (or whatever full-time is in your sport of choice), you need to be able to stay focused for as long as you usually trade (which is typically all day for us). Your working week is like getting ready for an upcoming match. You have to avoid late nights, drinking and partying so you can be at your best when you step up to the plate (I know, I know I’m all over the place with these sports references. Expect more).
4. IT CAN ALSO BE STRESSFUL
Being in a bad trade, or having a string of bad trades can really pile on the stress of this job, just like the way pressure mounts when you lose a match and your whole season is on the line, leaving orders in the book or miss-clicking can screw your whole week if you are not careful, which means you have to be on top of your game all day long. This brings us to number 3.
5. IT TAKES MORE THAN JUST TALENT
Nobody is born a naturally talented trader. But a few who do the right things become very successful at it. It takes a combination of the right positive can do attitude, the right learning environment, and lots and lots of purposeful practice (Bounce: the myth of talent and the power of practice, Matthew Syed). Want to know what it takes to become a trader, read these two books: Bounce and Market Wizards.
6. YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TAKE A HIT AND KEEP GOING
One bad trade shouldn’t ruin your day. Look back at what you could have done better and then forget about it. One loss won’t ruin a season just like one bad play won’t ruin a game. If you spend too much time dwelling on what went wrong you might just miss the next great opportunity. Remain disciplined and follow your trading plan!
7. YOU HAVE TO PREPARE
Just like in sports It takes a lot of time and hard work to prepare for the match, It takes a lot of time to prepare for a trade. Hard work starts long before you put your first trade in with hours of research to develop strategy and familiarize yourself with your opponent.
8. IT CAN BE FUN!
Although we are looking at the ways in which professional sports are similar to trading, even a professional career starts out being fun. I doubt many would have stuck with the grueling schedule of a proprietary trader unless they were getting at least some enjoyment from the experience. In our case, it’s the joy of finding some good edge and reaping the rewards of our hard work, the thrill of a trade that is going our way or just enjoying the office banter on a slow day.
9. IT TAKES A LOT OF HARD WORK TO BE GOOD
There is no shortcut to success. The best traders and superstar athletes put in the time in order to perfect their work.
10. AND IT TAKES EVEN MORE TO BE GREAT!
If you truly want to be awesome at trading it isn’t enough to be just hard-working. In addition to being hard-working you have to be innovative, driven and inquisitive in all aspect of the markets you trade.