I am reading a book by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin, two former Navy Seals, called Extreme Ownership (Find it HERE)
I will be honest, I started this a while back and put it down. I guess I just wasn’t ready to hear it. You ever do that with a book? Get part of the way through, put it down thinking “mehh. It’s good but…” and then pick it back up later and feel like when you open it the golden rays of sunshine blind you with the first word? Kinda how I feel right now.
Let me back up a little bit first. I’ve been struggling with defining progress in trading. I know, the simple answer is “did your p&l go up or down this month or this year or this ___________”. I’m not sure that’s the right measure for progress here. At least hear me out on this one.
I think p&l is a byproduct of progress, not the measure
Am I progressing with my ability to control fear? Am I progressing in my ability to be patient for a setup? Am I patient in profit? Do I cut a loser off quickly? Do I put in the work outside of trading hours to hone my skills? How am I interacting with the people around me, traders or not? Am I seeking out ways to get better outside of the charts?
THESE are where progress should be measured I believe. Am I doing these things and making repeatable measured efforts to confront them?
P&L will be the visible byproduct of taking these other things seriously.
There is one more that I want to cover though. That is belief.
Am I working on my belief?
Are people born with ability to believe anything is possible? Are they born with a negative mindset that hinders every single step they have ever taken? Or are these beliefs products of environment and upbringing?
I don’t have a clue. But some believe well, and some don’t.
Leif Babin discusses belief in “Extreme Ownership”. He is giving an example from a BUD/S class he instructed where they do a bunch of grueling boat exercises in 7 man teams. One of the teams, team II was really good and won almost every race. Team IV lost almost every race. They switched the team leaders and boat II finished first for most of the rest of the day, followed closely by boat IV. This is a super short summary and leaves out a ton, so read the book.
Here’s what Leif said when asked why the change happened when the leader of boat crew II took over boat crew IV:
“When the leader of Boat Crew Two took charge of Boat Crew Six, he exhibited Extreme Ownership to the fullest” … “He faced the facts: he recognized and accepted that Boat Crew Six’s performance was terrible, that they were losing and had to get better. He didn’t blame anyone, nor did he make excuses to justify poor performance. He didn’t wait for others to solve his boat crew’s problems. His realistic assessment, acknowledgement of failure, and ownership of the problem were key to developing a plan to improve performance and ultimately win.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, HE BELIEVED WINNING WAS POSSIBLE.
In a boat crew where winning seemed so far beyond reach, the belief that the team actually could improve and win was essential.” (Page 58)
If we measure our P&L, we are looking at the wrong thing. Did I go into my trading day with that fundamental belief that winning was EVEN possible?? This business, these charts, they do every little thing they can to tear you down and steal your belief. They don’t do what I want them to, therefore belief becomes difficult. We are only ever defeated when we stop believing that winning is possible.
If we are looking at and measuring the other characteristics mentioned above, we are getting closer. They are all important and will be helpful in making progress.
But to truly get to the core of what we need, we have to start with what we believe. My best days are when I believe I can do it. Not a single setup ever works on days when I don’t. It’s the stupidest thing I have ever seen but it’s 100% true.
So how do I work on belief? Unfortunately there is no magic pill or any amount of circumstances that will help. Your belief is yours. You have to make the simple decision to believe differently in every situation. EVERY. SINGLE. SITUATION. YOU. FACE. EVERY. DAY.
Try it. I am
Have a good weekend.