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I bought a seat at the CBOT in 1980…..jumped into that jungle called the “pits” and traded 30 year bonds with the best the world had to offer. You not only had to find your “edge” and trade well, but you had to dodge pencil points that could stab you in any part of your body and then pick yourself up after a hoard of 200 pound traders shoved you down 15-20 flights of steps. But that was the easy part. How about when you thought you bought 1,000 bonds and the next morning the bonds were limit up, and the trader on the other side denied selling them to you (aptly named an “out trade”), and now you are short 1,000 bonds and they are limit up? In those days, careers were over in minutes. Can’t tell you how many times I saw people come into work in the morning, hear about an out trade, were forced to sell their seat to pay their losses, and were filing for unemployment in the afternoon.

But I was fortunate enough to survive all that, and after 15 years, go on to trade on line, and find new “edges” in a different environment. Its still the same game, but played in a different arena. You still need the same skills….the number one skill being extreme patience, followed by controlling your emotions, sticking with your methodology, never trading in anger, never holding losers but hanging onto winners and finally a technical “edge”.

The system you use is one of the least relevant parts of the recipe.  I can show you a thousand systems that will produce profits but traders fail with them due to lack of patience and excessive emotion.  Too many traders feel they HAVE TO do something and that is their pitfall. 90% of the time when a trader feels he has to get out of the trade, that’s the perfect time to double up.  When you are totally convinced its going to move in your direction, 90% of the time that’s the perfect place to get out.  Trading is way more about emotion and psychology then about  technicals.  Everybody knows technical; few can control their emotions. If technicals were the answer, everybody would make money. After all, all traders read the same books, attend the same webinars, and follow the same start gazers and tea leaf readers. So as I say, what everybody knows is not worth knowing.

What every trader needs is a personal coach.  The very best pros in golf, tennis, skiing, etc: have personal coaches, and trading is no different. Why?  You may have all the talent in the world, but if you are in a slump or want to get to the next level, the student rarely knows how.  Also a coach can see things that the student can’t see or refuses to see.  It’s a known fact that pros and amateurs alike revert to their old habits when under stress.  That’s the recipe for disaster.  In trading, you not only need a coach to point out your flaws and get you on track, but to trade with you and watch you under fire and stress to make sure you don’t backslide. That’s real coaching.

Read more psychology of trading articles here.