Characteristics of a Successful Trader

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by EricP, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. EricP


    I've thought for a while about creating this thread, and figured maybe now was the time. I'll try to make 4-6 posts on various characteristics that I think are important, and then will answer some questions, if there are any.

    It should go without saying, but I'll be posting my thoughts, and not universal trading truths. I'll admit upfront that my ideas on the characteristics of a successful traders do not at all imply that these are requirements to be successful, nor do I insist that I actually have a clue about what I'm talking about. Take it for whatever it's worth.
  2. EricP


    A successful trader is logical, not emotional. They realize that what they 'want' is irrelevent to the market and that the market will not always do what is expected.

    The successful trader realizes that their 'j*b' is to make decisions that put the odds in their favor, and then react to the what the market is telling them. Emotions (such as anger, fits of profanity, screams of joy, etc) are not in the toolbag of most successful traders. Instead, cool, composed logic and sounds decisions are key.

    For example, during the while trading environments of September and October 2008, an emotional trader may have lost their bearings with the wild action, while the cool-headed logical trader simply continued to follow his/her trading plan, and rack in the cash.

    Keep your head about you. Don't panic, don't become euphoric. While the market is open, try to keep yourself at a steady mental state, logical and composed, ready for whatever the market throws your way.
  3. jtnet


    stay focused on one chart? and time frame or bounce all over?

    edit: and yes ERICP is one of the hand full of good posters
  4. I'll worship anything EricP mentions here :D
  5. Most the successful guys I know curse. When I"m expecting to lose $250 and some cocksucker sends in a 30,000 share order before I get out of my stock and I'm last in queue and print the low way through the market, and trade through an ECN because I was using a bad route... I will curse... that is normal.

    a friend of mine is in a futures office full of extremely successful traders... high 6 and 7 fig guys... and they all scream and whine like little bitches, constantly! Based on the sounds they make, you'd think they're constantly getting their asses handed to them, but at the end of day, especially end of month, they're very very green... they have I guess a high standard for their performance, and motivate themselves by getting pissed off.

    At the first firm I started with, the best trader in the group... he would always whine like a little girl, throw his keyboard and break it, bang the desk so that the guys to the side of him got frightened... and he'd sometimes do this when he only lost $40-100! But he was the most consistent and had the biggest numbers...

    I'm guessing, since you trade automated, that having any kind of hissy fit really doesn't make sense... since the computer will take the next trade... even if you drop $100k, whining doesn't help. But for us discretionary scalpers, anger and cursing can be the norm and it is OK. We should get pissed when we lose too much money, if it helps motivate us to do better on the next trade.
  6. EricP


    A successful trader is humble, not egotistical. The trader that knows it all, will typically quickly be proven wrong by the market. The humble attitude leads a trader to be willing to admit mistakes quickly, close out losing trades, and move on without loss of confidence.

    An egotistical trader is more likely to argue with the markets, potentially leading to huge losing days or possible account blow-outs. You don't need to win on every trade, or even every trading day, or every trading week.

    A humble trader is able to admit that his trading is creating nothing but losses that day, and stop trading until the markets are better suited to his/her style. A humble trader is less likely to double-up into excessively risky trades, in order to 'get back even' on the trade or on the day. A humble trader has nothing to prove, to anyone, and can freely admit mistakes to themself and others, enabling them to quickly and easily react to what the <i>market is telling them</i>, with little regard for it's contradiction to what he/she may have expected only minutes earlier.

    Conversely, and egotistical trader might confidently tell his friends 'what is going to happen' and is unwilling or unable to subsequently change his mind when the market tells him otherwise. Once he's made a public proclamation, he can't go back on his 'call' or he might appear to be wrong.

    The successful trader can't tie up their self image or self worth on a single trade, or a single trading day. Keeping your attitude humble enables you to simply treat each and every trade as individually irrelevent, and allowing you to focus on doing what's right, and not <i>being</i> right.
    blakpacman likes this.
  7. A trader's job is to put yourself in a position to win, regardless of what the market does and I'd say the most important characteristic of a successful trader is competitiveness. Tiger Woods would probably make an extremely successful trader.

    I believe emotion is a very powerful force when it comes to trading, but I'm not talking about the excitement or fear variety. I'm talking about the, "I'm coming out of the corner to beat your ass" kind of emotion. The fist pumping, in your face, kind of emotion.
  8. If you don't look at all the timeframes you might be missing part of the picture. IMO if you get confused by looking at too many timeframes you dont' know what you're doing.
  9. Yesterday I got emotional and lost when I should've had a solid day. Instead I got a whole weekend wondering how dumb i was.

    Here are some thoughts:
    when you get emotional, excited, or sentimental, you'll lose 80-90% of times.

    Don't fall in love with a stock.

    Tape/prints never lie......never trade with the news, favorable or not.

    just some basic stuff
  10. Ok, I stand corrected. H-U-M-B-L-E. Probably the six most important letters a trader needs to read. When you come across a humble trader you know he has made it. He has been beaten enough by the market that he has come to realize there is little value in predicting and no value in being right. It's all about doing what the market tells you to do. Excellent post!

    #10     Dec 13, 2008