Embrace Intensity

I sat on the patio of a small coffee shop in Venice Beach.

I hadn’t ordered anything yet, I was waiting for someone. Not just anyone but someone in particular. Heart rate was elevated. Trying to be cool. I took a deep breath.

I might as well have been 400ft up a bare granite wall trying to fit a cam while my legs shook.

I was scared.

Sure, I’d gotten coffee with plenty of young ladies before but something about this felt more important. My typical cool headed, ultra casual demeanor had given way to raw nerves.

I stopped my mind from racing for a moment and though, “this is what I am here for”. I took a deep breath. My heart rate slowed. My shoulders relaxed. I felt the intensity of the moment. I embraced it. I smiled.

The girl I was meeting that day would, 9 months later be my wife. It was, in the end, an important cup of coffee. At least for us. My intensity gauge reading a bit hot that day was appropriate.

I am confident you can relate.

Maybe in a relationship, maybe a meaningful business meeting. Perhaps an extreme outdoor adventure (my favorite). Regardless the occasion that created the intensity, I learned something that morning.

To dial the intensity down in the above moment, I used a method I had used countless times high up on a rock a face. I took a deep breath and I embraced the intensity. After all, I LOVE that feeling. Maybe nothing better in the world. Probably describes an adrenaline junky. I am ok with that.

What does that look like?

Well, a few things.

First – You must acknowledge that the moment is intense. We run into irrational thinking issues when we fail to accept this. We hold the intensity off trying to not let it in. You must let it in.

Second – You must accept the intensity and know that it can’t hurt you. Sure, heartbreak is terrible and all but it was a risk I was willing to take.

Third – You must embrace the intensity. The first two are like eye contact and a handshake. To truly sit in the intensity and benefit from it, you must also wrap your arms around it. You must love it.

In Markets

Have you ever traded well but then went up in size and blew out? We all have at some point I am sure. Some people say this is a mystical self-sabotage and you’ll never get over in until you deal with every past trauma you’ve ever had. In some cases, this may be true! In contrast however, what I find in many is that it’s just that they weren’t ready for the increase in intensity and when this got them over their skis when fear took over.

Breathing is a byproduct.

What I have found is that breathing exercises alone do not help me reduce intensity or heartrate. I’ve tried. I typically just stay anxious or nervous.

To walk through the steps above, mentally allows for an immediate shift in breathing. Like I said in the story, my shoulders relaxed and my breathing slowed. You allow yourself to feel that intensity. Live in it for a moment. Take it on. Let it in your veins.

You calm down. Your thinking slows. Rationality returns.

I actively use this thought pattern for outdoor sports, workouts with increased intensity, confrontations, intense business items and.. every single day before I start trading.

It might take a try or two but I think you’ll find value in it. Tom Hoggard talks about a similar idea in his book Best Loser Wins. He says that before the day has started, he’s already been through his worst case scenario in his mind. I typically do a quick mental trading session and then breath it out using the method above. I’ve found it to do two things.

One : Increase my willingness to take “spicy” trades. The ones with the highest R:R.

Two: Reduces my frustration when it doesn’t work. I was already prepared for this to go poorly. I’ve accepted it.

I hope this gives you something to think about.
If not, too bad so sad.