Louise Bedford: Excellent traders live at their peak. To become a peak performer in any field, you need to work through three stages. Which stage do you feel you are you in?
Stage 1: Feeling caged
Sometimes people feel caged, not only by their expectations of themselves, but also by the expectations placed on them by others. People in this stage bend their personality to the needs and whims of other people. They feel that they can’t break out. Survival is the key mode for them. They feel that they’re never earning enough money and that they’re working too long hours. They see nothing different in their future other than more of the same monotonous existence. This is not living. It’s just surviving.
There are two ways to break out of this caged phase. Firstly, chance could intervene and something could happen that gives you a big shake up. Sure, that can happen, but it’s quite rare, isn’t it?
The other way to break out of that caged process is by willpower, and really that’s what I suggest you do. If you are feeling caged, or if you are feeling trapped, the best way that you can move on is to associate with success. Associate with people who believe in you and realise that you can live up to their expectations (instead of bringing your entire existence down to people’s thoughts about you).
Stage 2: Living a comfortable life
This is where you say, “Okay, I’ve got the cars, I’ve got the kids in school and I’ve got the wife (or the husband). It’s all okay, but… is that all there is? Surely there’s more. Am I making too many trade-offs in my life? What is my passion? I’ve really lost touch with myself so much that I don’t know what I really want.”
I was talking with a girlfriend of mine the other day and she was telling me that she’s got a few years until retirement (about 10). She’s got the children, the ex-husband and a new lover, but she said, “Am I in the age of discontent? Is this where I just look around and realise that nothing feels like I’m really achieving anymore?”
You’ll know if you’re living the comfortable life. Probably around 80-90% of people are in this phase. They’re happy enough with what they’ve achieved, but they’re not really striving. They’re not on the edge. They’re not achieving. There’s nothing in their life that makes their blood boil with drive and enthusiasm when they get up in the morning.
If you’re comfortable, you need to work out a way that you can break out of there. In its own way, this stage is also a cage, isn’t it? You and I both know that. If you’re asking, “Is this all there is?” you owe it to yourself and your ambition as well as your family to make steps and find ways to break out of that comfort zone.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The first thing that you need to do to become a peak performer in any field is to get out of your comfort zone.
Education is the key here.
The more that you can educate yourself and the more that you can strive. Set something on fire in yourself. Find something that you really, really want to achieve. Sure, it is scary, and sure, sometimes you get the ‘butterflies in the stomach’ feeling. But you know what that means? That means that you’re alive. Without being fully alive, you will never achieve at your peak.
Stage 3: Peak performance
People performing at their peak are not asking themselves, “Can I survive?” They are not saying to themselves, “Is this all there is?”
They’re asking, “What is my contribution to others? How can I make a bigger impact. How can you make a bigger difference to the people on this planet?”
That’s what you need to do to achieve at your peak. Find a passion. Develop something within you that says, “I will not let this go,” and act like a bulldog and don’t release it until you’ve conquered it. That’s what good traders do.
The most successful traders in my Mentor Program have a stubborn streak. They have a bulldog mentality where they hang on to a goal and they do not let go. That’s what it takes to be exceptional in any field, not just in trading.
Ask yourself, “Am I living an inspired life? Am I inspiring others by creating a spark within them?” If you are, good for you. If you’re not living an inspired life though… it looks like you have some changes you need to make.
I don’t know what level you’re at, whether you’re caged, whether you’re comfortable, or whether you are already a peak performer – but I do know that if you’re determined to become a top trader, you
have a home. People from each level of existence have achieved as traders. Recognise yourself and where you’re at – and get ready to move to the next level of your existence.
I love this quote from Mark Victor Hansen, the author of Chicken
Soul: “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” This is incredibly apt for traders.
A lot of traders carry around obsessive thoughts like a dog carrying around a ball. They nurse them, they lick them, they can’t do without them… and if they try to throw them away, they’ll chase them down again so they can go back to carrying them around.
If you’re not keeping a morning journal (or somewhere to write down your ‘stuff’), then you really need to start. One of the reasons behind our tendency to carry around our obsessions is because at one level, your mind thinks you’ll forget about them. If you can get those bizarre, twisted thoughts down onto paper, you’ll soothe your mind into realising you won’t forget about them. It can finally get a grip and relax for a while. Clear away your old obsessions and you’ll be surprised about what your mind will be free to think about.
Make the first page of your journal what you’re afraid about. Air everything out, and write without reservation. Even if you have to write in code for a lot of the time because you’re worried someone will find the journal, it’s still an effective exercise.
And of course, one of the best ways to grow is to show gratitude for what you’ve got, and to take your eyes off yourself and put them on other people.
Reach out to those who love you
Somewhere, right now, there is a person on this planet who is hoping you’ll call them.
Let’s face it. You’re horrible at keeping in touch with people who love you. You get too busy, you’re too distracted, you feel it’s going to take too much time… I get it. The other thing I get though is the number of old timers who tell me that life can zoom past and things get lonely unless you’re applying effort to your relationships. We are social animals. We need each other to feel whole (no matter what type of introvert you consider yourself to be).
You don’t have to stay in touch with people who irritate you. Just choose the ones who love you and who you love back. The ones with your best interests at heart.
Start with them.
Excerpted from an article originally published in the May/Jun 2014 issue of YourTradingEdge magazine. If you are a subscriber to YourTradingEdge magazine, you will receive this article in your May/Jun 2014 issue of YTE. If you are not a subscriber, click here.