Fail Your Way To Trading Success

boulder uphill

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules.  You learn by doing and by falling over.”

Richard Branson


One of the most common questions I get is “how long will it take to become a successful (profitable) trader.”

It’s a question I can’t answer… nor can anyone else for that matter mind you. It depends far too much on your circumstances and, more important, your willingness to put in a bit of work.  That word work alone usually ends the conversation.

And so, with that in mind, I’ve come up with (borrowed) a much better, yet still succinct answer.

“It will take… as long as it takes.”

As you may have guessed, that answer gets me quite a few unsubscribes.

Oh well… the truth often beats you like a rug.

The second most common question I get is some version of “is there a way to trade without losses?”

Folks have devised some pretty brilliant ways to disguise this question…

  • “Hey Mr. Trader… I’m really interested in growing my money through short term trading.  Is there a way for me to get involved without risking a lot of my hard earned risk capital?” or
  • “Hey Mr. Trader… I like the idea of cutting losses short… I like it so much that I want to cut them out completely.  How would I go about that?” or
  • “Hey Mr. Trader… I’ve followed you for awhile and noticed that there are days that you don’t have any losses at all.  Have you ever considered limiting yourself to the trades that you take on those days?”

Hmmm… Now why didn’t I think of that?

So anyway, the answer to the trade without losses question is “yes, you can… but not in any kind of sustained way.”

Generally, by the time I’ve answered these two questions the person making the inquiry has moved on in their quixotic quest to someone willing to offer them that elusive “magic” formula.

At any rate, there is only one sure way to progress along the path toward consistently profitable trading… barring omnipotence or criminal conduct of course. That way is… Failure.  Stated more accurately,

  • Attempt resulting in failure
  • Followed by an examination of the reason for the failure
  • Followed by process correction if need be
  • Followed by renewed attempt
  • Followed by rinse and repeat.

A terse explanation for sure so I’ll simplify… Jump right in (if not via the simulation mode I suggest, just be sure to keep your risk tiny…there will be plenty of time to make the “big” money later).

When you lose… and you will very likely lose, determine if the loss was within the  normal course of your new found “process” or if you made a mistake.

Normal course of business loss? Move on to the next “trade.”

You made a mistake? Figure out the mistake, correct your process if necessary, THEN move on to the next trade. Doing this consistently will result in constant improvement of your process and move you ever closer to profitable trading or success in whatever your field of pursuit for that matter.

As a bit of inspiration during the losing periods I offer one of my absolute favorite short “doodles…” from… Your (and my) failures are nothing compared to these giants in their fields, so watch the video… THEN GET BACK TO WORK.