My first “real” trade was a TSLA long where I bought with everything I had from the sale of a house. Sounds sketchier than it felt. It was not a purchase made in haste. I had a plan, but zero experience. It gapped up overnight. I added the next morning, full margin.

I rode that trade for a week or so as it sored into the S&P inclusion. It was a beautiful thing. I had no idea what I was doing. Other than skipping the “risk 5% of your account” or whatever people recommend, I traded it well despite my ignorance.. Initial position, add on confirmation, scale out into strength. The trade was textbook. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Except I was clueless. I mean, I had “done my research” whatever that meant but really, it was 2020 and things were going up. I knew the news was pending and price seemed to be reduced in it’s daily fluctuations. I had a “gotta cut it” point if it didn’t work but, who knows if I would have respected it. I like to think I would have.

My Super Power

I’ve always been able to push away from the table.

I took that win, banked it. Everyone around me said I should hold. I knew enough to know that when you win a wild hand, you have to take the money and run. A bird-in-hand as my friend Scott says.

Let me be honest. Markets have never been some great mystery to me. From that early win to a handful of swing trades using “The Squeeze” to basic technical analysis and trend following and capitulation fading and order-flow and volume analysis and price action and options greeks and all the things you can learn about markets, it’s never been “hard”.

The way people throw consequences to the wind when the chance to “make life changing money” arrives and the irrationality that follows when it doesn’t materialize has never been that hard to see. Combine that with some basic bank roll management skills and you’re going to do just fine.

That’s not the issue.

Despite all these things being fairly simple, my early trading was marked by clean, easy grinds up followed by devastating blowouts and freefalls. Four weeks of solid trading met by one day of going bananas and giving much if not all back.

Despite a solid start and an ability to “read” markets, my blowup cycle was the same as everyone else’s.

It was predictable.

One day, after a solid two week run, I showed a friend my P/L graph and said “I’d short that if I was you”.

A few days later, I was back at square one.

It was brutal.

In all the things I have done, I don’t know if there is something that was as painful as this. The boom and bust cycle of my first year. I would back test and then blow up the forward test. I would track my trades in a spreadsheet and then blow up the spreadsheet. Maybe it was lack of sleep. Maybe it was a bad system. Maybe it was a lack of a daily loss. Maybe it was that was was an idiot.

Who knows?

What I DO know is that a few core beliefs about myself and markets changed my mindset dramatically. The trick with beliefs, they are not an idea you had or an observation you like, They need to become central to who you are. They must override all other counter beliefs. They need to become so deeply a part of who you are that action upon them comes out without hesitation.

This takes time and is what quality trade execution is made up of. This is why trading cannot be taught. It’s not about a price pattern but a belief system. While someone can show you good beliefs, they cannot make you believe them. You must decide what yours are and internalize them until they define every action you take.

Until they fully override fear, impulse, neediness, compulsion, capitulation and rage.

My Core Beliefs:

The following are things I know are true and that give me the mental resolve to interact well each day with the markets.

Markets are Random :
Sure, their are repeated patterns but you don’t need to know what is going to happen to make money. You also can’t take responsibility for what the market does after you enter, only what you do. Put the trade on, do your job and move on. Stop or profit.
The Rational Take from the Irrational :
It’s not about perfection. It’s about rationality. As long as you can hold a clear head, you’re good to go. When that wavers, bail.
Dumb is Fun but Doesn’t Pay :
Traders have a strange anti-intellectual quality. I’m not into that. Use your brain. Simplify your edge, maximize your profit.
Clever Costs :
We cannot dance around the miserable parts of trading. Embrace them. Overthinking is pain avoidance.
Less is More :
When you want to add a trade or an indicator, take one off. You’re looking for certainty. Instead, look for rationality. Most likely, you’re buying the first dip or selling the first rip, optimize the way you think about this instead of adding more colors to your charts. Shave your head and trade a naked chart. Cut the fluff.
Good Trades Come Slow and Happen Fast :
Be patient, then decisive. You will have to feel like you’re not doing anything. That’s the job. Then sprint! We’re not here for volume, we’re here for power.
Losing Doesn’t Make You a Loser :
Losing is part of winning. Nothing more, nothing less. There are not greater take-aways from a loss. What didn’t work today, might tomorrow.
Just Stop :
Perhaps the most important and most overlooked. It’s ok to quit. I quit each day.
Sh!t Happens :
We make mistakes. Nothing you can do about it. Get used to it. The worst thing you can do is double down on a mistake to try and cover it up. Let it be what it is.
Watching > Trading :
We all love action. I’ve learned that it is truly better to be out and wish you were in then be in and wish you were out. The job is to watch. This is a massive edge.

Some of these you have heard. Some are clichés. They are cliché for a reason and they are meaningless to all of us until we deeply internalize them. Hearing them is different than believing them.

How do you know what your beliefs are?

You should read my other post on Dissonance. We can find marks of our beliefs in our trades, our journals, perhaps in our own bodies. Tension during a trade, either mentally or physically, can (if we take the time) lead us down a path to better understanding what we are thinking and why.

This is where the really interesting things are.

Remember how I said markets are easy?

Well, they are. They are fun also. I think we all share a great interest in markets, what they do, why they do it and most importantly, what they might do next. However, our own mind is, or should be, by far the most interesting thing we interact with each day.

I love building trading systems, making bets, trying again, winning, losing. The whole thing is just a good time. The magic however, is in the mind. It is in the ability of the operator to navigate their own headspace. To fist control it and then run it red hot.

In my post, Primary Colors, I talk about how, if we know the building blocks, we can not only control a thing but exploit it. That is what this is all about. This website, my work in this post and the ones before it. My aim is not to pontificate about the phycological side of trading. It is to find the handles of my own mind and run it as hard as I can.

Organize your chart. Organize your mind. Organize your method.

Ultimately, this is what it all comes down to. Organization with purpose. Find the most critical quality of something, then reduce until there is no impurity. Refined.

That should be your aim as well.

Those of you who have read these posts, thank you. I hope you get something out of them. I hope you find small parts of your own mind and capacity that you didn’t know about before. Either way, thanks for reading.