In this article I hope to draw attention to our subconscious ability to close ourselves off from learning new ideas, but also the importance of keeping open minded towards ideas and information we think we already know.
‘Are you willing to learn?’ It may seem a strange question to ask, as most of us will insist that we are. But this is often based on an impulsive feeling, rather than a considered thought that truly reflects reality. Anyone who has traded before will be familiar with the paradoxical challenge of aligning thought with action and maintaining a neutral, logical, yet alert and flexible mind in the midst of highly emotive circumstances.
I wanted to explore this question after hearing of someone who refused to study anything new about trading; this wasn’t about giving up, but instead he believed it was just a matter of persisting with the information he already had until he succeeded. Although there is sound rationale for persevering with our existing knowledge, particularly in order to refine a strategy, it does strongly rely on our knowledge originating from a reliable source and being fully comprehensive. No amount of persistence can compensate for mediocre information.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever know whether frustration, money spent or human expectation shoehorning reality into a predetermined timeslot was the catalyst for his decision, but it did lead me to consider my own past behaviour. As a newbie trader I made a similar choice and I can honestly say my attitude really held me back. I wasted time believing I could figure it all out on my own, if I was a natural at this then surely I would just intuitively ‘get it’? I was wrong on so many levels. Learning to trade is comparable in skill, to speaking a new language; I’m modestly sure my first baby words were as a result of hearing my mother, without her language skills and experienced guidance I wouldn’t have learnt to speak. Why would trading be any different?
If you recognise the following scenario, you might be trying to learn the hard way; someone demonstrates a better method of doing something, you outwardly accept the advice while inwardly choosing not to follow it. Perhaps a rising sense of annoyance overcomes you, likely stemming from a subconscious belief that you are being deliberately undermined. So even though you hear the words and see the movements you can barely remember anything? That thought and subsequent response denies us the possibility of receiving one vital breakthrough detail, our moment of insight. Furthermore, to have a concept repeated is to have it reaffirmed and clarified. We must learn to appreciate this as an opportunity rather than an irritant we’re trying to ignore.
Fortunately, frustration forced me to take a reality check. If I actually wanted to move forward as a trader then I was going to have to search out the best information and education material I could find. It was a process of trial and error but it was absolutely the only way and the part where I saw the greatest improvement. Ultimately we do have a choice, regardless of whether we actually feel like studying or not.
You may have to actively intervene every time you feel yourself mentally shutting down but eventually it will become an invaluable habit.