By Joe Ross
Power in trading is a fascinating and often misunderstood concept. In general, it involves the capacity to cause something to happen, and effect change. Market movers are able to exert power in the marketplace, but so can individual traders. Individual traders can couple their moves to the power of those able to move prices. However, people often misunderstand and mistake force with power.
It’s Not About the Fight
Many people assume that to accomplish anything meaningful requires going into battle; often, traders approach trading in this manner. In other words, they think trading demands force. It is true that force when attempting change in oneself can work for a time, and in fact work quite well. But force creates counter force and then locks in when these two forces collide. For individuals, counter-force is the stubborn side of the personality that wants what it wants when it wants it and isn’t happy about not getting its way. The problem is that outcomes based on force never leave people satisfied, even if they win due to the high emotional costs that come with the win.
The Opposite of Force
On the other hand, power is quite the opposite of force. Force is aggressive… power is creative and uses vision. Force focuses on the ends justifying the means. Power actually occurs in a process over a series of moments, all of which work in a constructive and unified fashion toward the goal.
At the core of personal power is self-trust. You must believe in yourself, your vision and your intentions, believing you can make something happen.
A critical piece in cultivating your power in the markets is developing your integrity. The only time a person actually feels deep satisfaction and peace is when the heart, head and actions all line up. This applies to all areas where you don’t honor your word to yourself — cheating on your trading plan, thinking one thing but saying another, failing to pull the trigger on a trade when you know you should — all create a deficit with yourself and your confidence. Even if you don’t keep your word to yourself, even if no one knows it, you emotionally punish yourself and diminish your own power.
The key to creating power is to put yourself into alignment, and conversely not allow yourself to be out of alignment by making excuses for what you did even when you know it was wrong. Examples include justifying cheating on your trading plan, blaming everyone and everything for your bad trades, and settling for a trade you know you shouldn’t take, but you take anyway because you don’t like not taking some sort of action in the market.
When you give up your mind’s right to explain or feel bad you find yourself in the very powerful place of choosing what you did. No more victim. No more excuses. Your actions are your choice.
Often fear of failure stops people from developing their power. This is not to imply that having power means you have no fear. With power you take action in spite of fear because you trust that action, belief or behavior is right for you. You still might fail — but that’s okay. Life is full of failures. At least you failed in a powerful way — doing what you chose to do. Anyone who has given their all to something, holding nothing back, knows that feeling that even if you don’t get what you want — there’s little better than knowing you gave 100%.
Having the freedom to choose, and the personal power associated with it is extremely freeing and allows people to enjoy a “lightness of being.”
To establish personal power or strengthen yours, do the following:
· On separate sheets of paper, write all the important areas of your life including health, body, relationships, your marriage and family, your work as a trader and your finances.
· Evaluate in each area what you really want for yourself and what standards you want to meet. Be creative here — carefully locate what has true meaning for you and would be most fulfilling.
· With your lists in hand, determine where you are coming up short. What are you doing that undermines your intentions and dreams? What are you lying about, hiding and protecting? Examine anything that is stopping you — in even one area — because that behavior seeps into other parts of your life. If you feel that having great health is mandatory for you but you regularly eat fast food, that behavior counters your personal standards and consequently undermines trust in yourself in general.
· Starting with one or at most two areas, think through changes you can make that will bring your dreams and intentions into reality. Pay close attention to where you get stopped and why — understanding a pattern in one area will increase awareness and insight in others and indicate where you need to do work.
· Forget making excuses. Be aware that your mind will make excuses for everything because that is just what the mind does. But excuses are power killers and should be put aside.
· Go for something you’d be so proud of — and risk failing. This has you committed to winning, and going for it fully, with everything you’ve got.
While developing your personal power, also consciously watch where you are being “forceful.” Watch what you do — and watch the consequences of that behavior. Over time, you will see how unsatisfying, hurtful and ineffective forcefulness is. In the places you notice you’re forcing, be creative at identifying a different way to reach your goal; that keeps everybody’s dignity intact.
Remember, too, that nothing is fixed. You are free to change direction in your life as a trader any time you find another path that might work better because you design your life. And it’s personal power that enables your efforts.