Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winning or Losing: What Makes the Difference?

If this blog had a daily theme, today's would have been the perils of self-esteem.

For those who believe that I was being too alarmist in suggesting that a generation of young people has been adversely influenced by a self-esteem movement that has wrung the competitive fight out of them, and that, by shielding them from the shame of failure, has deprived them of the joy of success, I would offer some anecdotal evidence to support my contention.

I did not gather the evidence from a scientific study. I read it in Brett Steenberger's blog. Link here.

Steenberger is a renowned trading coach. He works with people who trade financial instruments for a living. His goal is always to guide them to better performance.

As he tells the story, a year or so ago he was addressing a room full of traders-- over a hundred-- and ended his talk with an offer that, you might think, no one could refuse. Anyone in the room could ask him for advice and counsel and he would give it to them for free. All they had to do was ask.

After the talk one man walked up to Steenbarger to express his concern. Wasn't the coach worried that he was going to be swamped with demands for free consultations.

Steenbarger was not so sure. Two weeks later, he sat down to count up the number of requests his offer had elicited, and came up with... One.

How did he explain this strange response? He did it by noting that only a small fraction of those who consider themselves traders, who trade for a living, are willing to put in the work necessary for success. And he added that those who are not willing to do the work are also unwilling to take any advice.

Such would be the expected fallout from rampant self-esteemism.

Here is Steenbarger's conclusion: "Traders can repeat positive affirmations and invoke positive images, but nothing replaces the hard work associated with preparation, practice, and focused work on one's craft."

As for the sole trader who called Steenbarger after the lecture and asked for help, last year he made well over a million dollars trading.

No comments: