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March 19, 2018
12 Trading Mantras from Trading Legend Mark Douglas
Fill the “profit gap” with the right things…
In his books and seminars, Mark Douglas often refers to something he calls the “profit gap”. What he is talking about is basically the difference or “gap” between the potential profit you could achieve if you had just followed your trading method and what your actual bottom line results are.
Traders often begin trading a method with very high hopes. They want to produce an income they can rely on and get consistent results from their trading. However, this is only possible if you are trading an effective method with discipline and consistency, which most people simply do not do and as a result, they experience the profit gap that Mark refers to.
The key point that Mr. Douglas makes about this profit gap is that traders typically try to fill the gap by learning more about the market, changing methods, spending more time in front of their computers etc. However, what they really need to learn is more about themselves and how they interact with the market. Essentially, they need to acquire the “proper mental skills” to trade their method as they should and to get the most out of it, in order to properly fill the profit gap.
Winning and being a winning trader are two different things…
Anyone, and I literally mean anyone, even a 5-year-old child, can find themselves in a winning trade. It does not require any special skill to get lucky on any particular trade and hit a winner. All you have to do is open your trading platform and push a few buttons and if you get lucky, you can make a lot of money in a short amount of time.
As a result of the above, it’s natural for a trader who has not yet developed his or her trading skills to take the leap from “it’s easy to win” to “it can’t be that much harder to make a living from this”.
This is how many traders’ careers get started. Needless to say, it is also how they get on the path to losing a whole lot of money just as fast or even faster than they made it.
A winning trader has the mental skills to realize, understand and utilize the FACT that any particular trade he or she takes has basically a random outcome. That is to say, they cannot possibly know the outcome of that trade until it is over. The winning trader knows this and they also know that they must trade in-line with this belief over a large series of trades and ignore all the temptations and feelings that get kicked up on each trade they take. They are able to do this because they keep their eyes on the bigger picture. That bigger picture is the fact that IF they execute their method flawlessly, over and over, over a long enough period of time / series of trades, they will come out profitable.
Thus, do not mistake a winning trade for you being a winning trader, yet. A very easy trap to fall into.
Mental skills are the key to trading…
A key point that Mark Douglas really seems to want to drive into people is: Even if your method is a high-probability method, it’s the proper execution of that method that you need proper mental skills for. If you don’t have those mental skills, even a winning strategy will lose.
Mental skills are things like; staying focused on the process, on your method, and not worrying about the consequences if this trade goes wrong. If you don’t have the proper mental skills to stay positively focused on the process of trading; on doing exactly what you need to do when you need to do it without reservation, hesitation or fear, you will not make money in the market.
It’s critical to remember that no matter how good your technical method is at generating wining trades, turning those winners into a consistent income takes the ability to do or not do some things that the method can’t help us with. The method can’t force us to pre-define our risk, or with making the mistake of moving our stop closer and stopping us out prematurely, it can’t stop us from hesitating and getting in too late or from over-trading or from getting out too soon and leaving money on the table. No matter how good the method, if you make mental errors you will lose.
If you really boil down what Mark is saying by his comments on “mental skills”, it basically comes down to having ice-cold ‘blood in your veins’ discipline. Mental skills like discipline essentially means the ability to control yourself and especially your behavior / actions in the market against the CONSTANT TEMPTATION the market gives us. Essentially, as a trader, you are fighting against yourself to see which part of your brain has more control; the older, emotional and more primitive part or the more advanced logic and planning parts.