This article was originally published on Marawealth.com
Sharing my real trader story means that I’m supposed to talk about me… and I always find that difficult to do, for some reason.
Let me just start with a bold statement and build from there: To make it as a trader you have to first walk the path of failure.
Typically, success as a trader doesn’t come easily. The market is like an untamable bull―to ride it successfully, you’ll have to prove yourself worthy.
And your repeated failures, out of all things, will help you develop into that person if you stay the course.
This is something I was utterly unaware of when in late 2006 I decided to quit my regular day job to become a full-time trader.
In fact, if awards were handed to traders who failed the most, I think I would certainly get one.
To give you some context, let me start from the beginning…
I grew up in France in a poor and troubled family. As a kid, I spoke with a stutter and had a learning difficulty, and because of this, I grew more and more introverted over the years.
In high school, during the recesses, I would spend most of my time at the library, not because I loved reading but because the library was the only place where I could find solace and be away from all the hobnobbing, cacophony, and bullying.
But this act of secluding myself from the world wasn’t all that bad; in fact, it exposed me to a financial market book that, looking back, had a major influence on me.
The book in question was How I Made 2 million dollars in the Stock Market by Nicolas Darvas.
The book―certainly an unofficial French version that somehow found its way in the school library―was in poor condition and was falling apart, but somehow I was drawn to it and began reading it, a couple of pages each day.
I became fascinated by Darvas’ life, his real trader’s story, and the success he had achieved in the market.
Eventually, life happened, I dropped out of high school and began venturing through life aimlessly.
I took various little jobs here and there while never really finding something that inspired me; something that I could do long-term and find fulfillment in.
A few years later, online trading had become a thing, and, I remember, my older brother once calling me over into his room and showing me a financial website called Boursorama.
It was filled with stock quotes and financial news, and I could not understand how one could extract information from the overwhelming amount of numbers, symbols, and financial news that did not mean anything to me at all at the time.
Yet, the potential there for financial success deeply seduced me, and I was determined to learn.
Quitting My Regular Job and Going All In
Fast forward a couple of years, I had gathered about 100k (U.S dollars) from various jobs I took throughout the years and I was finally ready to trade.
By that time, I was living in North America, and I decided to quit my last job to date as a count team member in a casino.
I can still recall my state of mind – a subtle combination of excitement, eagerness, hope, but also delusions as to what was realistically possible in terms of returns in the market.
Making money in trading surely seemed easy.
So I thought.
For a very long time, I couldn’t create consistent results from my trading operations.
While I did make money here and there, I almost always ended up giving back those profits to the market – and more.
Like most traders, I went through a period of ‘system hopping’ where I was chasing a nonexistent perfect trading system.
Of course, during that period, my trading account took another hit, and I was slowly running out of options which forced me to develop my own system – one that I took the time to understand, research, and perfect.
It was a solid market edge and, on paper, it made great sense.
But in actual trading, I was still too emotionally invested in my trades.
Market success seemed so elusive… so esoteric…so close, yet so out of reach.
Trading was essentially a means through which I was expressing my limiting beliefs and impulsivity.
Every trade was a roulette wheel of emotions: Winning trades would give me a buzz, losing trades would make me depressed… I could never summon enough patience to wait for my trades, or to let them work without compulsively tweaking them.
There was no stability in my mind; there was no consistency in my approach.
And I wasn’t even aware that the problem was, in fact, Me… the operator… the man behind the wheel.
I was desperately looking for external solutions when my issues were really internal.
Discovering Trading Psychology
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a well-known trading psychology book called The Disciplined Trader by Mark Douglas at my local bookstore.
I bought it, read it, and it all began to make sense from there.
Mark Douglas’ two books — The Disciplined trader and Trading in the Zone—opened my mind to my predicaments in a way that no other trading books had.
They were a real breakthrough, and slowly in my exasperated mind began to sprout a little bud of hope.
Inspired, I started changing the way I approached my trading operations and the market.
The idea of probabilistic thinking and the uniqueness of each trade [the two of the main tenets of Mark Douglas’ books] blew me away and I was eager to implement what I had learned.
- I started placing my trades and walking away from my screens
- I began thinking in probabilities and lowering my expectations
- I found a renewed determination to be and stay consistent and disciplined
And, lo and behold, my trading got better and my results improved.
But these improvements were only temporary.
Back to Square One
You see, the steps I undertook were just band-aids on a deep wound. I was still the emotional and impulsive guy deep down inside, and those unskillful states were just there waiting to resurface – and they eventually did.
Weeks, sometimes months, of consistent profitability were now punctuated by massive drawdowns because somewhere down the line, I always found a way to lose my stability of mind.
So naturally, I re-read Mark Douglas’ books, I internalized them, and I also turned to the usual trading psychology pieces of work by other authors in order to find an antidote to my recurring problems.
I was on a Holy Grail chase once again – except this time, it wasn’t a magic trading system that I was looking for, instead, it was a miracle antidote to my recurring trading psychology issues.
I’ve looked into and tried just about anything―NLP, hypnosis, and different sorts of therapies including sound therapy and psychotherapy.
Some gave initial results, others not at all, but all in all, the results I got were not satisfying enough.
They did not solve my recurring trading psychology problems at their core―they were just band-aids…coping mechanisms.
So, the impulsive trading kept happening, the emotionality kept making consistency difficult, and within 5 years, I had experienced a near-total decimation of my account ―nearly 100,000 dollars of life savings were eaten away by the market.
I had this solid, unshakable feeling of being a failure, and my mental state deteriorated to such a point that I started sinking into a deep depression.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Eventually―I’d say almost by mistake―I was granted an incredible opportunity to head on a 10-day intensive silent meditation retreat in the south of France, which turned into a 2-month long stay.
There, I discovered meditation, this art of looking into oneself, one’s thoughts, emotions, urges, and fears and seeing them under a different light.
There is so much I can say about this meditation experience, but this post would be too long if I did; however, I talk about it in a short book I wrote called Zero to Hero, which is part autobiography (my real trader’s story), part trading psychology manual.
Long story short, I took some time off of trading, lived the monastic life for a few months, and eventually, I decided to go back to my ‘real-life’ and face its challenges.
Upon my return, I began trading again with some newfound wisdom and an introspective attitude and perspective.
I’d be lying if I said that it was all smooth sailing from there. Progress was still slow, but definitely steadier.
And eventually, trading became more and more profitable, and less and less something that played with my emotions and wore me down.
Last Few Words
This is my real trader’s story.
My repeated failures brought me to a place of mastery. Not overnight, but over time.
And this is the point I want to bring home as I conclude this post.
To succeed as a trader, you must fight two battles:
- You must master the craft.
- You must master yourself.
Both have to be worked on side by side in a balanced way.
And what allows you to do that is an undying desire for mastery.
You must put mastery above everything else, even above the desire for monetary gains. Then you have a chance of winning at this game.
If you don’t do that, you will get frustrated by your lack of progress, short term outcomes will destabilize you on an emotional level, you will tend to look for short cuts, losses and failures will get to you, and you’ll just end up giving up.
So stay engaged in the market, keep that spark in your eyes, trade conservative sizes until you’ve proven yourself, and keep pushing.
You are a unique individual approaching the market with his/her own unique qualities and baggage. So mastery will take the time it takes, but once you have it, the world is your oyster.
I hope this was helpful.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need help. This is a long and tedious journey, and while I obviously can’t do the work for you, you can definitely guide you, and that can make a world of difference.
Memorable Lines From This Post
To make it as a trader you have to first walk the path of failure. Typically, success as a trader doesn’t come easily.
To succeed as a trader, you must fight two battles: 1.-You must master the craft. 2.-You must master yourself.
You must put mastery above everything else, even above the desire for monetary gains. Then you have a chance...
Stay engaged in the market, keep that spark in your eyes, trade conservative sizes until you’ve proven yourself, and keep pushing.