How Mark Twain & NBA Shooters Can Make You a Better Trader

There’s a lot to learn to become a good trader. A lot of market understanding, strategies, and techniques. But sometimes it’s the things that seem completely unrelated to trading that teach us the most about it. And our task is to find those analogies and to use them to our advantage. Find one different way of looking at things, and your whole trading can change.

How Mark Twain Can Make You a Better Trader

The inability to forget is infinitely more devastating than the inability to remember. – Mark Twain

Twain wasn’t talking about trading when he wrote this, but nothing rings more true to anyone who has traded the markets seriously. In life, if you can’t forget your failures, disappointments, and past hurts, you will be miserable. It’ll be hard to be happy, and you’ll have almost no chance to bounce back and succeed. It’s the same way in trading. Your inability to forget- losses, missed opportunities, mistakes- will kill your trading. You’ll be in a continually negative state of mind, full of doubt and low on confidence.

So the message is clear. You have to forget. You have to have what is called “instant amnesia” when it comes to losses and mistakes. Once they’ve happened, you instantly forget and move on. If there’s a lesson, take the lesson and move on. It’ll feel like you need to linger on it and punish yourself. Your mind tells you that you’re not taking things seriously or trying hard enough unless you make a big deal of it and keep it firmly in mind. But don’t fall for that trap. It’s not about mental effort. It’s about your bottom-line. And nothing will hurt you more than replaying losses and mistakes in your head over and over. So recognize the trap and ask yourself if you want to make things worse. If you don’t, simply let it go and move on. As unnatural and too “laid back” as that feels, it’s what gets results. And that’s all that matters.

How The Great NBA Shooters Can Make You a Better Trader

Not only do great NBA shooters practice instant amnesia, they take it a step further. If a great shooter like Reggie Miller makes his first few shots in a game, he thinks “Man… I’m on tonight. I can’t miss. I’m going to shoot amazing this game.” But if he misses his first few shots, he thinks “Man… I got the misses out of the way early. I’m going to shoot amazing this game.”

What? Whether they make their first shots or miss them, great shooters think they’re going to do great? Yes. As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. And for those people who are going to ask how they can have it both ways, the answer is that it’s all a matter of choice. Who said you can’t have it both ways? Who said you can’t be confident when you make them, and be confident when you miss them? You can believe whatever you want to. Ultimately, all beliefs are just lies. They are just our interpretation of reality. And they can be harmful lies or useful lies. Choose the useful ones. Be the architect of your life- and your trading.

Use Everything Around You

You don’t have to limit this to Mark Twain or NBA shooters. Every area of life is full of analogies that can help you in your trading. There are competitors in every field who deal with the same type of psychological issues as you, and who have found creative ways that can inspire you. There are philosophers who lived 2000 years ago that spoke truths that can raise your trading to another level. It’s all around you. Look for it, and cross it over to the world of trading.

And if you’re up for it, I have an assignment for you. I want you to find something outside of trading that can make you a better trader. Whether it’s from the world of sports, or chess, or philosophy, or politics, or anything in life, what is one insight you’ve heard or read about that you can transfer over to your trading? Really think about it, and stretch your mind. Because if you can find something that has personal meaning to you, it can really take your game to another level. And if you do find or already have something, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Let’s all help each other become better traders.

  • TWSS79

    Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book comes to mind for me. A quote that stands out to me is ”
    once you address the ball, hitting it to the desired target must be the
    only thing in your life. Allow no negative thoughts, and focus on your
    goal.”

    • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

      Great quote. We tend to second guess ourselves so much when we trade that focusing on the good reward/risk and not allowing negative thoughts to come in is a key to trading well. Thanks for the contribution!

  • http://twitter.com/seanquinn99 Sean Quinn

    Ziad, first off, just discovered your blog…it’s one of my favorites. Thanks for all writing and sharing your insights.

    I’m not a golfer, but I do appreciate appreciate the game for what it is (as well as the many similarities to trading). My quote is from golf champion Chi Chi Rodriguez:

    “I never prayed that I would make a putt, I prayed that I would react well if I missed.”

    • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

      That’s a great one Sean. Excellent mindset to practice having. And glad to have you on board on the blog!

  • EasySkanking

    This is amazing, Ziad. I cannot stop from saying “Thank you”. It is amazing also to see how you’re developing as a trader. You’re becoming a great trader :). Seems similar to what I am going through, but in a different “field”. Your insights are incredibly helpful to me- it seems like the things that I’m struggling with at the moment, are things that you have already gone through. I value your clarity of mind and your graciousness as they are invaluable in my journey (and all those people reading this). It’s really amazing what you’re doing. Thank you!

    Anyway, I’m far too tired from all this growing to write about the better insights that I have, but I do have one that helps me cope with the hard times – music! I find music that have messages that are similar to the lessons that I’m learning at the moment and use them to motivate me when I feel down. For example, check out this one – it talks about “letting go” being the remedy to everything (similar to what this post is about) – and I believe it because that artist seems to have gone through as transformational journey and made it ‘big’ after having gone through it. You can also see his “air of greatness” in his character. Anyway, it is my believe that he’s a *great* artist and I take great lessons from him. There are many artists and music that we can take such messages from. And they help during the tough times. Hey, this insight turned out better than I thought! I guess your positivity and confidence is contagious :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCTxMZrPAYo

    One thing that, if I could ask, that I’m struggling with is accepting that “all beliefs are lies”. I’m such a truth seeker that I only want to believe the truth… but I’m starting to see that that is very difficult or impossible :). If you could help me understand that, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you.

    • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

      Thanks for the kind words! Our development as traders- and human beings- never ends. It’s great to see that my journey towards greatness in trading is helping you too.

      Thanks for your insights and the video. I enjoyed the music, and I agree that music can be a great motivational tool. Athletes use it to pump themselves up and so can we as traders.

      As far as your question regarding the truth, real truth never has to be- nor can it be- believed. It’s simply known and lived. Not through thought or words, but through experience. That’s why all beliefs are lies. They are a step removed from truth. They take you out of pure experience and knowledge. However, as people we need to beliefs to exist. So don’t think that you have to reject them. Just choose the ones that reflect the truth as you see it, and they’ll prove very useful to you. This isn’t something to dislike- it’s a great think. It means that you can create the exact life you want simply by choosing beliefs that will get you there. In the end, the useful ones are a reflection of the ‘ultimate’ truth.

      • Kishan Bobba

        Ziad Masri,

        What an answer! What a clarity!!
        I just had a mental ejaculation (I do not know if this phrase exists).

        Thank you Ziad Masri

      • EasySkanking

        Strangely, Kishan took the words right out of my mouth, well, except the “mental ejaculation” part lol :). Thank you, Ziad!

        • Kishan Bobba

          :D

          • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

            lol. too funny guys! Glad you liked it :)

      • Arshad

        Thanks Ziad for your wonderful thoughts, I always enjoy reading your articles. Just some comments and a question regarding “all beliefs are lies” …
        Problem with “beliefs” is they are usually hidden and because they are hidden, its hard to recognize them. They come from our early life experience and have been formed as a way to protect us from hurt. And because they lie under our unconsciousness, they operate like an autopilot. They become so powerful in our lives that they become the foundation for what we experience as adults … of-course including as husband/wife, parents and as trader.

        I totally understand that we need to make a commitment to heal those hurtful pictures in our mind and believe the truth about ourselves.

        But with due respect I am struggling with religious beliefs … What’s your perspective on religious beliefs … are they lies too? If they are not lies then its means not all
        beliefs are lies. Again my question is with due respect to ALL religious beliefs.

        Thanks Ziad.

        • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

          Hey Arshad,

          Thank you for your comment. My answer above to EasySkanking is what I would say to you about religious beliefs. They can be a reflection of the truth, but are not truth in and of themselves. Truth can’t be believed; it has to be experienced. So from that perspective, the belief is still a lie. But again, this is not meant to be understood from a negative sense. A ‘lie’ in this sense is not the same as lying to others that is usually seen as wrong. What I mean by it here is that it is something that gives you the ability to define meaning as you choose. The important part is your intentions. A belief will be useful if you believe it for your own good and that of others. That’s all that really matters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/viktor.mihalyi.35 Mihályi Viktor

    This blog will be my “single trading partner”! Thank you everything!!!

    • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

      You’re very welcome Mihalyi. Glad to have you on board!

  • http://twitter.com/ari5000 Mark@ari5000

    I definitely feel certain parallels with bodybuilding. First of all, the constant drive to focus on your nutrition is relentless and promotes discipline. The training itself is an ongoing experiment to constantly increase your performance but also keep tinkering with your workouts to achieve hypertrophy. You can’t do the same workout every week and you can’t find a trading pattern and expect it to work forever. And furthermore, bodybuilding will obviously increase your energy, focus, and ability to concentrate on trading. Transforming your body is a little different than most other hobbies/sports in that you have to focus every single day, with just about every single meal, to progress. If you can do that, you can apply the same 24 hour focus to your trading.

    • http://www.opentrader.com/ Ziad Masri

      Thanks for the great comment Mark. I think this a great parallel few people would think to draw. Years ago the documentary “Pumping Iron” was a huge motivator for me in my trading. It upped my level of focus, motivation, and intensity. So I totally agree with you on this one.

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