Yes that is what I meant. Remember the old saying? A wolf in sheep’s clothing? Wikipedia describes it like this “Wolf in sheep’s clothing is an idiom of Biblical origin. It is used of those playing a role contrary to their real character, with whom contact is dangerous.” Focus on one part of that, “It is used of those playing a role contrary to their real character”. So often this story is related to watching out for those that appear to be tame and easy going and of little threat, but that those are actors playing a part to get close to you and cause you harm. Pretty straight forward. We all know what this means.
So why did I say Sheep in Wolves Clothing?
Have you ever thought about it that way before?
Simply, faking and disguising for selfish gain can go both ways. What do we say of someone who tries to be an expert on a subject but neither fully knows or practices the subject in any way save what is easy and convenient and will allow the facade of being an expert. I would say this is a sheep in wolves clothing. A sheep. An animal content to stay on the flattest, clearest ground and graze on the easiest food and be lead around by a dog that while highly trained, has no upper hand on a sheep in the big scheme of things. On the other hand, the wolf is ferocious. She is a hunter that methodically stalks her prey and plans out the attack. She has superior speed, strength, agility, and physical make up. She uses the meat to feed her pack of wolves. She is the pure picture of what it means to work hard and be excellent at a craft.
So here is the question I can’t stop thinking about in the context of trading: Why would a wolf want to wear sheep’s clothing? To get closer? Why? The upper hand is already dealt to the wolf. I will put this in trading terms. Why would an excellent trader want to put on the costume of a miserable lazy trader? To what end? The great trader should always be superior and aloof from his surroundings, always confident that he can go take what he wants from the market when he wants it, no hesitation, no fear, only perfect hunting skills. This trader trades for the kill, the end of adding more money to the account so that later, he can hunt bigger game, all the while, only caring that he kill for the sake of survival, not to prove to the other wolves what a bad ass hunter he is.
In contrast, what does the sheep have to gain by putting on wolves clothing? Short answer, maybe everything, except real ability. The sheep is still a sheep. That can never really change. All the wolves clothing can do is give a perception to the outside world that something has changed and that the sheep is no longer a sheep but is now a wolf and as such is more powerful and is a force to be reckoned with. The other sheep fear him now, not because he IS more powerful or a more disciplined sheep, but because he has had to go to great lengths to fool those around him to gain what he did not know how to attain. Who is this trader? This trader talks a lot about trading, to his family, to his friends, to other traders, to anyone who will listen. She puts on the robes of trading prowess and grandeur and sits a top the idealized mountain hoping that somehow, someway, this new found glory will translate in to something real, something lasting. This trader has traded many days and many lots and many systems and many instruments, yet still can only find solace in the fact that he knows so much about trading and that one day soon, it will all come together and he will really be a wolf, no fake clothing required. This trader trades to trade, not to make money. This trader trades to talk, not make money.
So which would I rather be?
The answer is obvious. The Wolf. The real wolf. The one who knows how to hunt and kill and succeed. The sheep only know following and reliance on some benevolent force to bring about good and the sustenance they need. The wolf hunts and will almost always come back with a kill, or others in the pack die. Wolves have it in their nature to hunt, sheep have it in their nature to graze. I am a hunter, at least I think I am. I can’t imagine many reading this trading blog and deciding they would rather be sheep. It’s firmly against the nature of a trader. That trailblazing spirit, never quit, faster, stronger, better attitude that keeps a losing trader coming back for more is not characteristic of a sheep. Traders are wolves. Some of us though are sheep, wearing wolves clothing.
Am I one? Have I been one? Yes. Sometimes I find myself still playing the game to play, not to win. The infinite loop. I play the wolfs game, but unfortunately, I have still been a sheep playing in wolves clothing it seems. Probably the best way I can explain what I am driving at here is to once again visit how these two animals both obtain their food and what they eat. A sheep grazes on grass. That’s it. Small bites, small portions, eating all day and working very little to obtain that food source. No hunting, no killing, the benevolence of the grass to be food is all that is required. And maybe most importantly, what a sheep finds, it cant share. Ever think about that? A grazing sheep can not help the other sheep around them. There is enough for that one sheep alone, not hungry mouths of the young or other sheep in the herd. There isn’t enough collected taking one bite at a time to share.
Contrast that with a wolf. There is no large field for a food source. There are certain animals that must be sought out, hunted and killed. The level of skill and difficulty is high but the reward is also much greater. And what that wolf kills, other wolves can share in. Energy and time are managed as hunting is a risk, unlike grazing, but at the end, there is enough to go around. One kill, many meals. Many other wolves fed. So bringing this full circle again back to my trading, I have been a sheep in wolves clothing. Have I learned enough about trading to sufficiently call myself “a trader”? Sure. But eventually for anyone who desires to trade like a wolf, to just wear the wolf suit no longer suffices. I have learned how to take little bites of the market here and there, grazing like a sheep, acting like a wolf. It is time consuming and the payoff is no where near what the real wolves I know are able to kill. I can take pips in small bites. I can make those pips pay enough for small victories, like a sheep taking one bite of grass and always being forced to take another. But I want to hunt like a wolf, finding the kill that will actually do some good. Grazers have to move all the time, hunters have a territory.
My mentor always told me “put away the shotgun and get out the sniper rifle” and “don’t fight to fight, fight to win”. To fight like a sheep, whether wearing wolves clothing or not, is a sure way to get myself killed by the wolf. Its time to take away the costume, and actually learn to hunt.
In trading, always remember, sheep will always want to be wolves, and wolves will never care. They are too busy hunting for their next meal.