Matt “the bobber” Lacoco and I had a great conversation last Friday while enjoying a fine cigar. We discussed the normal wrap up of the week and then discussed something very important that I wanted to pass along.
It has two parts:
1. The tiger is the most important companion on your boat
2. Every trader has a moment when they give up, and actually win
First, the tiger is the most important companion in your boat. This is reference back to Life of Pi (Trading Experiment Day 14). To give a brief summary, Pi and his family are sailing to the US from India with all of the animals from their zoo aboard a large tanker ship. The ship sinks and Pi ends up being the only survivor and is trapped on a life boat with the savage, wild tiger named Richard Parker from the zoo that he both fears and strongly admires for a reason he can’t understand. I am probably reading between the lines as it isn’t stated plainly in the movie, but I believe that all of us admire those that have that strength and raw power, especially when it is something we would like to see in ourselves. We even admire those that we perceive to have those traits, whether they actually do or not.
Our conversation focused on the point in the movie when Pi and Richard Parker finally reach land 277 days after the ship sank. Pi is laying on the beach, his ultimate destination, his only goal for 277 days. Everything he wanted in that moment had come about. He was safe. But that was strangely not the focus. The focus was on how Richard Parker walked into the jungle and would not even turn around to acknowledge that they had shared such an intimate and trying journey together. He just left. Pi knew full well that this creature he spent that much time with, that he wanted to kill, was actually the only reason he made it through at all. The taming of the tiger was never the point, Pi needed the tiger to change him.
And that brings me to #2
Every trader has a moment when they give up and actually win.
I believe that all successful traders have that moment where they realize that trading IS the tiger in their life. They wrestle and lose and then gain small victories, not over trading but over themselves. The small money made trading is always given back and then we meet the tiger again, alone, on our boat, in the middle of our seemingly vast ocean expanse. And we wrestle with him once more. And then it happens. We reach land and I truly believe there is only one way that this happens, we take trading from the inside, to the outside. I’m talking about trading as our desire. If trading results are internalized, then every win and loss MEANS something to me as a person. Landing on the beach is taking trading results, and through trading maybe its all results in life, and they become external, not defining anything about my day, my happiness, my smile, or my journey. The tiger has turned me inside out.
and then we give up
This is the beach that Pi ends up on. We, as Lacoco calls it, draw the line in the sand and say, no matter what, even if I never trade again, I just will never let myself lose the way I used to. The tiger has changed us. The experience on the boat has fortified us and forced us to face our deepest fears.
And as we lay on the beach, tired, broken, alone, and trading the way we once knew it, walks into the distance and doesn’t look back, we feel the same way that Pi did. Why? Why can’t it acknowledge the journey. Why can’t I keep this companion? The simple answer is, it was never meant to. It was meant to do exactly what it did, change us. Remember the power and raw strength we admired in the beginning about the tiger? The tiger imparted that same strength to us through the journey.
Now its our turn.
We are now like Richard Parker with one slight difference: we are meant to take that strength we have gained and put it to use in our own pursuits. It may still be trading, but it will be much different now. It may be taking it back to writing our book or doing our job or being stronger for our families. But we have been imparted with strength through our journey and it is now our turn to use it how we see fit.