We’ve all seen it.
A young couple out to dinner. Maybe a first date, maybe a second. She’s dressed up and so is he. They both look nice but something is off.

After a quick glance and moment of observation, you realize that she hasn’t said a word in the past ten minutes while he rambles on without stopping. Anything and everything that comes into his mind, he spirts out in rapid fire. His work, his hobbies, what he thinks. What he knows.

On and on and on the man carries the conversation without even giving time for a reply, let alone stepping back off the mic to offer it to his female counterparty.

Just think. What interesting conversations might take place between these two young people if the man would just shut up for a moment and open the door to some thought provoking dialog?

Not only does he squander the opportunity to enter into an interesting collaboration of thought but he also chooses to remain in the dull light of his own mind, dank and musty. So trapped in the closet of his thoughts he’s forgotten what fresh air feels like.

So it is with markets.

Most people don’t come into markets without some previous success. In most cases, we’ve “won” at the first things in our careers and are now entering markets looking to summit yet another of life’s great challenges.

This puts the default participant at a massive disadvantage.

It’s all in the approach.

The answers we get are based on the questions we ask. If we ask default questions, we get default answers. If we learn and work to ask more nuanced questions, we receive more nuanced answers.

When most people enter markets, they use the same tools they have used in their careers to get things done.

Most people come into markets, see one or two things that make some sense and then, without realizing their own arrogance, start drawing lines and assuming what the market should or shouldn’t do. Before giving it much time or attention, they are already commanding a thing that does not take orders.

The next level of this is to do the same but more advanced. Like the man on the date, there is no real connection. Just crude employment of the other to hear his words said back to him in his own head.

Every tool, chart type, bar type, color and line drawing method is employed. Maybe if you keep telling her how great you are she’ll finally understand?

But, like much of the single male population, they remain unable to woo a quality gal and are left alone with an apartment full of tools, toys and “look how great I am’s” without the company of a decent partner.

It’s not a mystery.

Markets, like people, are not a mystery.

Markets are people. Markets are one great swirling mass of people. Not one person or fund but a million. All moving in unison to some unknown melody.

If all you ever do is talk, you’ll never hear the music. You’ll never enjoy the simplicity of just watching, understanding, riding the waves it offers.

If you are too busy telling the market where it should go, what it should do, the levels it needs to hold or reject, you’ll never be able to transcend to those sweet moments where, like John Moulton said “You can ride the comet for a while”.

As a trader, you have to realize that no amount of effort can change the future actions of the market. It will move how it wants, it will go where it pleases and it is not aware of the line you just drew on your chart. It is not listening to your explanation of it’s future action. It has no sense of should or shouldn’t. It’s future is written and only it is aware of what it will do. The rest of us remain in permanent ignorance.

The Job.

So what’s the job?

The job of the trader is to slow down their thoughts, their needs and desires just long enough to hear where the market may want to go. It’s not difficult, in theory. Like any relationship where you are not the key actor, you are simply a supporting role, it takes humility. It takes patience. It takes the ability to listen first, act second and respond with grace when you guessed wrong.

Your account is not moved by your actions. Your actions, when they are directed by you, only serve to reduce you bank balance. However, when your actions align with what the market is telling you, when you allow yourself to dance as the market leads, she carries your balance higher. Often higher then you could have imagined. Certainly higher then I ever expected.

So it is in life.

To give yourself to a person, or to a moment. To serve the will of the present, without concern for self, has the ability to open us up to some of the most surprising and enjoyable experiences. So enjoyable in fact that once you’ve experienced it, little else is even interesting anymore.

This is the experience of collaboration in the moment.
A rare gift.
The only goal.