Think Like A Trader Blog

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

T-Model Trader Interviews James Orr - Final Part

 Hello Traders.

Here is the final section of T-Model Trader interviewing me. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

James Orr

Question 18

For this last part of the interviews, I would like to leave the trading talk behind and head off in a different direction.

A few days ago I was chatting with several people and the discussion turned to world figures, both current or from the past, which have personally been inspirational.

It was deeply interesting who was on that list and the reasons why.

So, I would like to ask you this same question and what is about that person(s) that you find inspiring?

James Orr

That is actually quite a difficult question and one I haven’t thought about too much to be honest! I’ve never been one for celebrity in the traditional sense of looking up to musicians, sport stars or film stars. I’ve never been able to understand the whole lining up to see a famous person or getting an autograph or anything like that.

There are a couple of people who pop to mind though when I think about inspiring characters:

-       James Dyson. He basically redesigned something that no one had really given a second though to. It was fixing something that wasn’t really broken and he has managed to turn Dyson into a household name and a product that all of his rivals copy. The mixture of his invention and also advertising took a hoover company to a multi-billion pound business. That is a pretty phenomenal feat… He also has a really strong first name!

-       Thomas Edison. He embodies in his approach to things everything I would love to emulate. I think it was over 1,000 failed attempts before he cracked the lightbulb. That shows a level of determination, discipline and self-belief that is absolutely amazing. I think 99% of the population would have given up after 100 failed attempts, and yet he kept going until he got the results that he wanted. Now, I’ve been called stubborn a fair few times (mostly by my girlfriend!) however I would love to be able to focus on something with such a strong purpose.

Question 19

I noticed that in your last answer you chose people who are designers/creators/inventors.....interesting in that you seem to have that streak in you as well.

Now, you did say that you were going to take a trade from the lilo whilst on holidays. You have also stated in the past about setting up on a beach to trade as well.
So......its time for the creative imagination section. 
You can choose to be and live anywhere in the official boring things like visas etc. 

What would be the view from your ideal trading room?

James Orr

It would be an office with floor to ceiling windows that overlooks a body of water. It can be a lake or loch, but I would prefer the ocean. There’s something very calming about the water, and especially the rhythmic sounds of waves breaking on the shore. I think it would also be fantastic to sit at work whilst a huge storm rages and beats against those windows! I'll attach a picture of something similar.

Question 20

There has been something that has had me perplexed with you over the last year or so of listening to your review videos. I have come close to emailing you a few times to see what the problem is and now I have the perfect platform to solve this mystery.

If I was putting out the daily review videos, I have no doubt that at some point a few "Aussie" phrases would have just popped out of my mouth without me thinking to say them. To have said something like...."Crikey mate....what a fair dinkum zone this one is" would have just been a natural thing to do.
Likewise, if I was listening to someone from the southern states of America, then a "Y'all have a good trading day Ya hear" would be a most appropriate thing to hear. all this time, NOT ONCE have I heard  you say..."What a wee bonny morning trade that was"....or the likes.

You've completely shattered my lovely stereotype of all Scottish people saying wee bonny every second sentence.
What gives?
Are you really Scottish or just good at accents? 

James Orr

You’ve got me. I’m actually an artificial intelligence bot using a Scottish accent because research said it was relatable. Now that you know, it’s time to tell you all about my new trading system with a 99% success rate that averages 400% per month!

Question 21

Well this brings the interviews to an end. It has been fascinating hearing you speak about your trading evolution and gives me hope (others too no doubt) that there can be success with discipline and dedication to the process. 
I will be taking several key points from this interview and writing about my own version of them in the T model blog over the next few postings as there is lots of content to them.

So...thanks for opening up and telling us all about your personal trading journey.
I also realized my mistake in an earlier should have been...I am sitting at the kitchen table with 2 that would have been more revealing!

Is there any final words that you want to add to this to finish up?

James Orr

Well first of all thank you for taking the time to do the interview. It was a fun experience and helped me revisit a lot of memories I had almost forgotten about!

I really hope that the interview more than anything gets across that I am just a normal guy. It’s all too easy for people to see a YouTube channel of a trader or trading educator and get it in their mind that the person they are watching has some special talent and smashes through the trading world like a profit taking wrecking ball.

In fact that is not true. If someone is promoting that ‘it’s easy’ attitude and lording it over you with all their ‘huge profits’, then they are quite simply, liars and/or marketers.

Trading can be learned by anyone, but only if it is approached in a sensible, long term way. You aren’t going to become a millionaire quickly with trading. But you can build yourself a skill set that allows you to partake in a career that is one of the most freeing and enjoyable out there.

And as a very cheesy sign off, I’ll use the Decisive Trading mantra – ‘Master Yourself. Master the Market.’

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Time to Take a Break?

Hello Traders.

I got back from holiday on Monday and the trip again made me realise the importance of having some down time. I think it is even more important for those who are still in the learning process of trading and working their way toward consistency.

What I have always found with trading, more so than anything I have ever encountered before, is that it pulls you in completely. If you truly want to become a trader, you know exactly what I am talking about. I would say that trading itself becomes somewhat of an obsession.

In the morning, you look forward to getting to the charts. After you finish for the day, you may find yourself browsing over the charts once again, summarising what you did correct and what could be improved upon. At the weekends, you sneak off from your partner for a ‘nap’ and they find you sitting with a laptop on your knees and a chart open in front of you.

It truly is a fantastic experience to become so involved with something you enjoy that it becomes like a hobby, something you want to do, rather than something you are forced to do (like a regular 9-5). Those who don’t trade won’t understand, and that is fine. But for us traders, the thought of ignoring the markets for a few days seems like madness.

And therein lies the problem. Because trading can creep its way from an enjoyable pursuit that you are determined to succeed at, to a much heavier weight that is not enjoyable in the least. It becomes more of a ball and chain rather than a pursuit of something you love.

The reason is fairly simple – you are burning yourself out. The mind doesn’t want to and can’t be focused so intently on only one subject for hugely extended periods of time. Especially not when you are trading live and you add in the stress and psychological rollercoaster that comes with the day to day business of being a trader.
Again, this can be worse for a beginner. When you have been trading for a while, you can somewhat detach and understand that the markets will be there tomorrow, and the next day… and the next.

As a beginner, you tend to get that initial surge of excitement. It carries you through the first six months and you find yourself spending countless hours learning and practicing. It seems easy, because you enjoy it. Even after you go live and suffer from mistakes and losses, you still find yourself bouncing out of bed, looking at it as a challenge and something you want to work toward until it ‘clicks’.

And then comes the slippery slope that you may not even notice. Perhaps the mistakes keep happening and the losses keep coming. You feel like you’re going backward and not improving. Your love of trading is slowly becoming a desperation to succeed. You take risks you really shouldn’t, you spend hours on the charts even though your head is already pounding and you haven’t even considered stopping for something to eat and drink.

I know that feeling because I went through it. And our natural reaction is to ‘work harder’ and ‘work longer’ to try and fix things.

For me now it is a little different. That burnout comes instead from focusing so much each day on what I am doing, as well as getting up earlier and putting things together for Decisive Trading and subscribers that I need to be helpful and of good quality. But the burnout is very similar and I can remember all too well the sitting at the charts with a headache refusing to move burnout also.

The truth is, the most useful thing you can do is… take a break. Let yourself recharge. Ignore the charts for an entire week, even if you don’t go away. Spend time with your friends or your partner (do they even remember what you look like?).

What I always find is that a couple of days goes past without trading and it feels like tension is leaving me. After that it is literally as though I am plugged into a socket and recharging. It allows me to come back to the charts fresh and with a huge excess of energy that helps with my focus and discipline.

So, take a break when the passion becomes a chore. The charts will still be there tomorrow. Relax and unwind. In all honesty, doing nothing can sometimes be the most important part of your progression as a trader.

I hope you’ve all had a good trading week.

James Orr

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

T-Model Trader Interviews James Orr Part 5

 Hello Traders.

I am just back from holiday (although my mind is still on holiday mode!) and catching up on everything from last week. This is the second last post with T-Model Trader interviewing me, and the last section will be posted next week.

I hope you all have a great trading week!

James Orr

Question 15

I have had this question in mind for a considerable amount of time, as it is something I have wondered about. It was a comment that you wrote in an email to all subscribers this morning that has prompted my memory of it.

Obviously there are many around the globe who follow your trading methods and I am assuming that there has been many a polite and supportive comment come your way regarding Decisive Trading.

What I had been wondering though, is to whether there are many who challenge your trading methods, or you personally through less than polite comments, etc?

If so, how does that make you feel?

James Orr

I had a feeling you were saving the probing questions for near the end of the interview. The girlfriend/sister question was just the warm up!

I will try and keep this answer relatively short, as I could in fact write a considerable amount!

There are a huge number of great people out there, and they gravitate toward the Decisive Trading material and I hope learn and improve because of it. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, I really look at Decisive Traders as friends and a community now. That’s not to say they will all be successful traders – far from it. The risk and failure rate is still there for everyone and anyone. However, I believe that the majority of people who end up coming to the YouTube channel and watching a large portion of the videos, or those who take the courses I teach, do so with a realistic mind-set and are good people. They want to improve themselves and their situation and are willing to put in the hard work to do so – that type of person is someone I respect and easily get on with.

However, there are also the negative and hateful. And yes, they do come out of the woodwork on the regular. The best way to do this is probably to summarise a few of the recent ones I can remember:

-       I had a guy comment on one of the videos with incredibly abusive language. I then blocked him and told him I was doing so. He then proceeded to email me to show me that he could ‘get around the block’. His page and profile picture suggested he was in his 50s, so a fully-grown man.

His emails were similarly aggressive (with the grammar of a four-year-old) and it ended with him assuring me he was a professional trader and I was a fake and liar and blah blah. His solution? A one week trading competition.

I am not joking here.

He wanted to have a one week trading competition. Now, anyone who knows anything about trading, knows that what he suggested is ridiculous. One week of trading results is meaningless. To turn it into a competition would also force you to overtrade and basically gamble. So, he proved in one email that he didn’t have any idea what he was talking about and was effectively, an idiot.

Now this was a fully-grown man - almost twice my age - effectively attacking me, someone he has never met before. What annoys me, is he wouldn’t have said it to me face to face. The internet instead gives these idiots voices where they can attack in whatever way they want with no repercussions.

-       I had a guy who runs a ‘trading channel’ comment on one of my videos ‘OMG this is too funny.’

Again, he is a fully-grown man. The only think ‘funny’ is that a fully-grown man uses ‘OMG’ in a sentence.

-       A message from a guy telling me trading was completely random and so I was a fraud and if the market moved against a trade it would bankrupt you and I was causing that to happen to people. He said you can’t make money from trading and demanded I explain ‘why’ he was wrong.

I explained and pointed him in the direction of things he could read and watch to help him out. I also explained stops, money management and the fact that I had been trading for years.

His argument simply changed tact, saying ‘well you may make money, but you’re conning everyone else’. And he began commenting on every video he could find telling people as much. So even when faced with logical answers and explanations, he just chose to shove his head in the sand and keep attacking, no doubt still sure he was correct.

Now those are only a few I can remember. But there are many many more on a regular basis. And as much as I have grown able to allow them to wash over me, some still strike a nerve and really annoy me. I spend countless hours working on Decisive Trading, the channel, the courses, the innumerable emails and the subscription services. I also did and still do put in a huge amount of effort to my trading. So, when some random person decides it’s ok to attack me, it can really pi** me off. I don’t understand what makes them think it is ok to do just because it is online.

It used to bother me a lot more, basically because I had never experienced it before I started posting videos. There is no real ‘outlet’ to the comments, because you don’t know who the person is and can’t see them. So instead it used to simply boil my blood for a day!

However, I have grown used to it and in all honesty, 99% of the time I simply laugh, delete and block them now. I have come to realise that it is mainly through jealousy that these people appear. They think their comments or disliking the video is somehow a way to empower their belief. I just let them have it now. It doesn’t make any difference to me or how I live, it doesn’t have any impact on Decisive Trading, so why should I allow it to annoy me? If anything, they spur me on to make more content and keep pushing forward. After all, I need to give them something to get annoyed about, maintain their miserable lives and hit that dislike button!

Question 16

I had been thinking prior to your last answer, that considering your public profile and the less than nice ways people can be, that comments would have come your way. Didn't realize the extent of it all.

Prior to my Decisive Trading time, I had to cancel a credit card to get myself removed from a trading organization, as sadly they didn't honour their initial statement of being able to quit at any time. 

I do think I will leave this mortal coil one day without ever fully understanding why people need to do this!

I am now wondering about the responses you got from family and friends. Not only about the time when you were trying to develop as a trader, but also when you decided to create Decisive Trading.

Were those around you supportive or did they try to convince you otherwise?

James Orr


It is a real shame that so many people conduct themselves in that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of regulation ends up coming into the teaching side of trading because of all of these idiots. The unfortunate thing is, the people who will suffer are the beginners with small accounts. There is already a push to reduce leverage with brokers considerably.

I have to admit here that my family have always been supportive. Even when they don’t understand what I am trying to do they support me. I am pretty blessed in that regard.

Although my Mum still does occasionally ask me – ‘are you sure you don’t want to get a proper job?’

I think that is just a mum being a mum though and it always makes me laugh!

Question 17

I have been going thru your answers posted over the last few weeks. What truly stands out for me is the "universal" similarity of experience regards the trading developmental journey. Many things that you have written I can go back and find in my own words within my trading journal and I am guessing that many others may feel the same. 

I could not have come close to capturing prior to starting what has taken place for me over the last 16 months or so regarding trading. This time of learning to trade has turned me inside out, upside down, left me emotional flattened and completely devoid of knowing how to proceed in regards to my mental capacities at times. 

Given that you are receiving emails and questions from traders, I am guessing that there would be a repetition of these "universal" trading themes?

Are there any other insights or pointers that you feel are important that hasn't been covered so far here?

James Orr

Unfortunately, the most common emails still tend to follow one of two threads:

-        Either that people have lost a lot of money and are somewhat lost and don’t really know what to do. I get regular emails from people who have rinsed through all of their savings and/or their pensions. It either comes from throwing all of their money at an instructor, or else just going it alone without any real plan and getting into a lot of trouble.

-       Or else, something along the lines of – ‘If I buy your training, how much money can I be making in 6 months?’

The first type of email really bothers me, mostly because by then it is way too late for any real difference to be made by what I tell them. All I can do is advise them to stop, and only ever come back to trading with very small risk and money they can afford to lose.

The second type of email makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall. No matter how many videos or blog posts I make stating that trading is not a quick route to income, and that there are no guarantees of success, I still get these emails. I usually reply now with something along the lines of ‘most likely zero’, and that puts an end to the conversation! I am only really ever interested in people who approach things with a determination to put in the hard work.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

T- Model Trader Blog Post 14 - The Confessional

 Hello Traders.
T-Model Trader is back with his 14th blog post for Decisive Trading (how did we get to 14 so quickly?!)
This one actually had me laughing as I read through it - not at the experience, but at the way it was descibed. 
I hope you all enjoy it.
James Orr

T-Model Trader Blog Post 14

The Confessional

As I have mentioned many times before, I go do a stint of journal writing at my local café most days. I try to get one of the tables tucked away in the corner so as to cocoon myself and get into this process of expressing the previous evenings trading activities.
Over the 15 months of doing this, I have been asked on many occasions as to what I am writing about and in the beginning I made the attempt to be honest and convey exactly what this was.
I soon came to realize the problems in trying to do this.
In my first goes, I would sit there explaining that I am trading and that I come here to write up what took place from the previous evening. After several attempts to elucidate, I came to see that a series of responses tended to follow.
The most common one was….“Oh dear, you better be so cautious cause these things will go down you know”. How do I explain that that is totally okay and in fact I actually prefer selling to buying.
Then there is that facial response. It is akin to having a large pus filled pimple suddenly erupt on my face and the person can’t quite embody the repulsion they suddenly feel at that moment in time. It is like they can’t hear a word because they are filled with disgust to what they are experiencing. For whatever reason, they seem to become terrified, as thou this trading talk zit may burst and so retreat out of the blast zone before they get infected.
The third common response is like they are sailing off over the horizon on a cruise ship holiday and their eyes have glazed over and no one is home. Beyond the occasional “A-ha, right, yes and Mmm” nothing much is registering.
So I made the decision to not say a thing, which really is so much easier.
If I am sitting there writing and get asked these days, I will say something like… “I am clearing out the congestion of my head so as to not get a pressure like build- up of thought causing my brain to want to explode out thru my cranial openings”. I think that the term “cranial openings” is the one that makes them hop it in the other direction with a sense of hast. Also I find that a few spontaneous twitches of the head and a gammy fluttering of one eye also helps. Insanity and the talk of bodily openings is a lethal mix and usually brings the conversation regarding my writing to a complete halt.
The problem though, is that sometimes it’s really good to be able to go… ‘Oh my, you wouldn’t believe what I did in a trade last night”. So dear readers, I am using this blog as my confessional as I need to let out a recent trading blunder.

So….here goes.

“Have mercy on my trading soul, for I have done a really silly thing… Really silly. A trade set-up did come on to me and I calculated my entry position whence forth. Price was conveniently a lovely round number, so adding 1.1 points really should have been an absolute no brainer. So it was not to be, as sadly barrenness of the active neuron flourished.
So good was this set-up, that I could hear the distant chorus of angels singing in my head, that this trade was indeed going to be a bloody little ripper. But again, that was not to be. I clicked on the buy button and lay back in feelings of rapture and joy, that trading merriment would soon be mine to have. Once more, that was not to be.
It was plainly obvious, that I had been taken asunder by some mathematical demon in my addition, which was resoundingly wrong, as it came to pass that 50 + 1.1 didn’t actually = a number less than 50. So, enter did I and thus the trade was committed to play out, without it being valid. Oh how I wailed and writhed upon the floor bathed in the realization of complete stupidity when I eventually discovered my folly.
But alas, this was not the end of my tribulations for the demon within blanketed out the more light that I realized, causing further erosion of what little brain power I had going on at the time. For I, thru the sheer power of faith, hung on to that trade. Rather than simply admitting to my trading blooper and bowing out with humility and a loss of moderate proportion, I clung on and was eventually cleft in two.
And in true historical fashion, the seas of the chart did part and offer price a safe passage all the way to my stop loss. At that point I was smote down and reduced to flailing upon the floor once again. I do believe the word moron may have passeth my lips as well (but I am not entirely sure as I was completely dissociated by this time).
Whilst down on my trading knee’s, I heard the voice of that great trading patron….Saint Confluenza (who, legend has it, was a 15th century Italian merchant who had a vision of buying and selling without there being anything tangible to buy or sell) who said on to thee… “Harken back O trader and you will have seen not one, not two, but three candles reject breaking through and triggering the entry, so even if you cannot add up, visually it was plain to see as it stuck out like large doggy things. Yes, it was that obvious”
And in a moment of dire suffering I thought that compassion might come to pass from the great Saint on to me, offering salvation from the overwhelming  sense of anguish and misery. But not did it come as he continued with….. “Yep, moron is most appropriate….however….D*&khead is eternally and everlastingly better”. Once more I was smote down and reduced to squirming upon the floor, as I knew in my heart of hearts that he was indeed … on!
Tragic hey. The tale of the mathematically challenged trader.
It is the timing of this blooper which is also important, as I had made a commitment to myself only days before to seriously up the ante of my levels of concentration and discipline. Whoops.
If they handed out ratings like they do with countries and credit, then this is a AAA rating in complete and utter day dreaming trading. Once again……groan and moan!
Till next time

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

T-Model Trader Interviews James Orr Part 4

Hello Traders.

Back again with the 4th part of T-Model Trader interviewing me. This interview is starting to draw to a close now, and there will only be one or two more posts. I hope you are all enjoying it.

James Orr

Question 11

About a month ago I had a week of no losses. It was the first time ever. I did contemplate over that following weekend that maybe it was time to upgrade the T-model to a T-bird (convertible of course) only to fall back into my normal yo-yo consistency again the following week (then thinking that I should be downgraded to the jackass instead).

In an earlier answer, you spoke about the two years of the trading plan development, of which the second year was about gaining that consistency. Once learnt, the "objective" side to the trading plan is, broadly speaking, understandable. However, there also exists the "context" side of it all.

On many occasions I have waited for the end of day review to see where it is I might have gone wrong in my trade selection, to find that you have simply skipped over what was my entry candle. I can only assume that I got the context completely wrong, given that it met the trading plan criteria. 

I find it challenging here to somehow encapsulate what it is that I am wanting  to ask as it feels so nebulous in quality.

So....I would like to start by asking you to truly explore your memory of that time period when you were gaining consistency. 
Were there qualities unfolding that you can now look back on and see as significant developments?
Was there an approach to the whole trading activity that you embodied during that time that you would now define as important?
Basically put, how did you get beyond this damn yo-yo reality?

James Orr

The run of winners! Usually followed by a euphoric feeling and also a whispering voice telling you, ‘That’s it. You’ve cracked this trading thing.’ That’s a very common situation and can be pretty damaging to beginners. There are a couple of points to go over here.

But firstly – if you are ever left wondering or confused, simply email me. I try to be as thorough as possible, but if you feel I have missed something just let me know and I can clear it up. It may be something very simple that you’re not picking up on, or it may be something I need to explain for you.

Ok, so for me at least, it didn’t really happen all at once. In fact, I didn’t even notice it happening at all to be honest. I was just so focused on the trading that I didn’t even pay attention to the overall results. There came a time when I had had such a sustained period of losing and feeling useless that I just wanted to make sure I was only taking the best trades possible.

I had been approaching the markets in the wrong manner. I had in my head that I needed to be able to make ten points per day for trading to be viable. That meant that I went looking for those points every day. If I had a day when I didn’t make them, I would think that I couldn’t become a trader. So, I was forcing trades and losing over and over again trying to fit the description of what I thought made a successful trader.

 Now I don’t remember the exact ‘eureka’ moment, I think it was just another of the many things I tried during that period. I would go on long walks after trading and try and figure out what the hell I was going to do and how I could improve and stop the metaphorical bleeding.

One of the main ways that happened was that I lifted the pressure off of myself. I removed the ‘targets’ for each day and I stopped looking for a certain return each month. I just focused on the trading. I only wanted to take the very best trades possible. It had to be perfect. If it didn’t line up, if it was even a maybe but a GOOD maybe, I skipped it. I also used an insanely tight money management system whereby if the trade wasn’t working out very quickly, I exited at break even, for a very small profit or a very small loss.

It was a stressful way to trade and I missed lots of winning trades, but it allowed me to follow a very strict rule set. Because I also wasn’t looking for anything from the markets, I didn’t mind if I had a day or two or even three where I had a run of break even trades. I just wanted to make sure what I was doing was correct. I knew the trading plan I had worked because I had tested it so thoroughly. So it just came down to me implementing it correctly.

After a while (months), I noticed that I was having profitable months. I then understood that what I was doing was working. I didn’t need a certain number of points per day, I didn’t need to force trades, I didn’t need to aim for something each week. I just had to be very selective and keep doing what I was doing.

Now, after a run of winners, there can be another issue. And that is that you start to loosen up your rules and also believe that you ‘can’t lose’. That is very common in casinos also and it is all down to emotion.

Because you have had a run of winners you think things like:

-       ‘Well, this one isn’t perfect. But I have built up a cushion of winners so I can afford to risk a loss on this one.’

And the market will happily oblige! And you may think that is fine, but all you’re doing is reinforcing that you don’t always need to be disciplined and follow your rules. So after the losses invariably come, hey ho, you don’t need to be so selective, you need to take slightly more risky trades in order to make some of this money back! You’ve already missed a couple of good moves by being strict, and you don’t want to keep doing that!

And here comes the yo-yo.

The best advice I can give is to keep a diary of your trades. Mark up every trade and be honest about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a winner – was it a good trade in relation to what you are aiming to do? If not, and you see those trades creeping in, you absolutely need to address the issue.

Qusetion 12

There really is so much fantastic information in that last answer. I hope that others reading this are getting the same value as I am.

After that successful week, my first trade of the following week was also a win. I can reflect back and see that my trading bravado was getting a little too trigger happy. Even though I was watching for this problem to arise, it did slip through my filters and some less than optimal trades were taken
in the following few days, which really weren't great set-ups. And so the yo-yo reappeared.

The part of your last answer that really strikes a nerve is about having to have a trade to feel like you are a trader. I have felt this aspect so strongly since day one. 
This has got me thinking about the nature of work broadly, and the nature of "trading" work. I have done a lot of work with my hands in the past.....building.....artwork and so on. So there is this aspect of "doing" which is easy to relate to in a work sense because it is so tangible.

Yet this sitting at the screen and not trading is in many ways the antithesis of that. It is requiring me 
to develop a whole new mind set of approach.

In turn, that got me thinking that trading really is an occupation unlike any other and requires quite a profound reprogramming of the values that are normally associated with work. To sit on ones hands and do nothing trading wise is so profoundly a big part of it all.

I don't really have a specific question here, more just a thinking out loud.
Your thoughts?

James Orr

It’s extremely difficult to keep that rigorous selectivity. The lazy, half-assed part of the mind is very sneaky and in a very strange way, determined to make itself heard and dominant. I try and stay away from the screen as much as possible to combat it. I set alarms. And then as the market approaches I make decisions – Ok, I need to see this and this for this trade to be valid. If I see this, it invalidates the trade. That way, I only need to glance at the chart and I already know what I am looking for. I find that if I just watch the market movements, my mind sees the movements of candles and starts to determines crazy things like ‘the sentiment of traders at the exchange due to the movement of the candle.’ It really is an interesting experience this trading. It teaches you so much about yourself and helps you become a lot stronger mentally.

I come from a building background and am very similar in that I am happiest when working with my hands. I was once told by my father that I am a ‘creator, not a destroyer.’ Although he probably doesn’t remember saying that, it really made me think about things.

Now, placing myself into the trading arena was very different. I used to feel like I had accomplished something when I had built something or came home from work physically exhausted. With trading that became impossible. I couldn’t throw myself at work. I just had to wait… and wait… and wait.

It really doesn’t help that most of us come to trading with a belief that it is exciting. Even when we do our testing and study, we don’t really process the fact that what we are looking at happens over months and years. When we sit down to trade live, we want it ‘now.’ That’s probably why a huge portion of beginners go straight for the one minute timeframe. I get asked about it all the time. And even when I say to them, it’s a bad idea, it’s extremely difficult and stressful to get right, I usually get brushed off in their replies. They want excitement, even if it shatters what they want to do.

I still sit and think to myself sometimes that I should be doing something productive and that I am being lazy. It has become easier over time, however it did take a good long while. Now, after I feel like that, I give myself a shake and remind myself that I love what I do and that the notion of work is not a solid state definition. I would be miserable sitting in an office all day working for someone else. And although building was great, it was also physically exhausting and the long hours often left me hating what I was doing.

Work is whatever you want it to be and never mind the rubbish that school rams down your throat. If you want to do something, then that is enough. You come first, and your happiness is paramount. The world will keep on turning just fine without you chained to a desk or working twelve hour days. If that isn’t for you, know that it doesn’t need to be for you. The only think you own is your mind and your life. Feed it whatever helps you through the journey with a smile on your face.

Qusestion 13

I have been thinking about your comments in regards to "staying away from the screen as much as possible". I feel that this statement is in many ways the other book end to the "bleeding eyes" where obviously you drowned yourself in that screen. So from the "bleeding eyes" it appears you have travelled the spectrum which now allows you to be more detached.

It reminds me of a comment by the legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker. When asked about how he was able to play with such freedom, he stated "learn your chops and then let it all go" (chops = music theory and technical ability). What I assume he means is that you have to immerse yourself totally in the given format in order to transcend it all.

I am interested in this "I only need to glance at the chart" comment. 
What I perceive from this sentence is a type of freedom, not only from the endless hours of chart watching that can take place, but more so from the internal debate that can arise from such intense reflection seeking to nail the markets next move.

I keep reading that paragraph and get such a wonderful sense of freedom and space.
Is that how you experience this stage now in comparison to the "bleeding eyes" time?

James Orr

I need to be careful in how I answer this. I have that robot voice from ‘Lost in Space’ looping around my head saying ‘Danger Will Robinson!’ The danger is that I hand over an answer that makes it seem like trading is easy for me and that it will become easy for everyone else also. That really isn’t the case.

So let me answer focusing on two separate aspects:
1)    Yes, trading does give me an unrivalled sense of freedom. Especially in comparison to the period where I was spending upward of 12 hours per day learning and staring at the computer. I don’t do that any more. I don’t allow myself to.

And there’s a huge amount of freedom in that I can be anywhere I want when I am trading. In fact, next week I am on holiday. I have hired a villa and I really want to be lying on my lilo in the pool with a beer in the little cup holder, the sun overhead and the laptop propped on my lap. I want to take a trade that way just because I think it would be fun and a good way to remind myself that no matter how hard things can seem at times, I really do have it good. My girlfriend doesn’t know about the trade yet (that’s technically work and I promised the holiday is a work free zone!).

There’s also the freedom of time. I am not chained to a desk. If I don’t want to work then I don’t need to. And on good days, like today, I was finished by 9:30am. On a Monday morning. I mean, how can anyone really complain about work when that can happen?

It amazes me when I see people trading and they sit all day every day at the charts. They need to try and trade everything they see and make as much money as they can. You may as well be working twelve hours per day for an investment bank. You can’t be happy staring at a computer all day every day. It reminds me of something Bob Marley said, although I can’t remember it verbatim – ‘Money is numbers and numbers never end. If you tie happiness to money your search for happiness will never end.’

2)    However, on the other side of the coin, I don’t want that freedom to be construed as easy in the sense that I have ‘risen above it’.

You bet your ass I still get doubts when entering a trade. I have the stress of being in the trade as well, certain that I am on for a loser. When the losses do come, I get frustrated. Any trader who tells you otherwise is a liar.

The only difference is that I don’t let those things control me. So I may have the doubts about the trade entry, but those doubts wont stop me pulling the trigger if everything is lining up with what I am looking for. When in the trade, if it starts moving against me, I may have that sense of panic, but I am able to somewhat detach from it and I will only react when I see definite pre-determined exit signals. And after a losing trade, I get annoyed, but I don’t let that pull me into emotional trading and snowball the losses. I just walk away.

So I am a lot freer than when I was in the ‘bleeding eyes’ stage, and in fact than at any other time of my working life, but that freedom is not a walk in the park.

Question 14

I have been rereading and reflecting upon many of your answers so far and four words come to mind. They are what I would call the "D" words....Determination......Dispassion......Discrimination......Discipline. 

I see that each of these words are so very active in the process of becoming a successful trader and there is no hierarchical order as such, as they are all active at all times.

Determination is pretty straight forward, as it is that aspect that drives each of us to achieve a goal in mind.
Dispassion is that quality which, as you stated, prevents getting tangled in the euphoria of wins and the trauma of losses. It is that middle position that remains in equilibrium.
Discrimination is that aspect that can sit on the hands and allow for less than optimal trades to pass. It is the filtering system that traders need to learn in order to succeed. I would suggest that in developing this quality will go a long way to managing the "time" problems that seems so prevalent, which in turn leads to impatience. (I think the word "Discernment" also fits here too).
Discipline is in many ways the binding force that holds everything together. Without this quality then there is no structure in which to follow when the going gets tough.

They are in combination a great force. They are in combination also very challenging to consistently adhere too. I would sense that as learning traders, we will have a variety of emphasis in these four, where one or two will be doing okay, whilst the others are diminished or lacking.

If we use these four terms as "global" qualities, which did you find the most challenging to adhere to in those couple of developing years?
And again....your thoughts on these qualities in general as they play out in those developing years as a learning trader?

James Orr

I would say I struggled with Dispassion, Discrimination and Discipline the most. Determination was never really an issue. I knew what I wanted to do and it was only very rarely that I ever genuinely considered walking away.

I would go through the ‘yo-yo’ as you described it earlier. There would be runs of winners and then the cocky self-assured attitude would appear and everything would very quickly go down the drain. I would start detailed trading diaries and then ignore after a week when that run of winners came once again.

It really was two steps forward, 1.99 steps backward.

In the end it all came down to discipline. If you focus on only one thing, make sure that it is discipline. That is the best advice I can give. Because with discipline, everything else starts to fall into place.

Develop silly rules, punishments and rewards to make sure you follow exactly what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Become accountable to people – literally tell your partner to keep track of what you’re doing. If you start messing up, then they change your broker password and don’t give you access for a couple of days. Practice with the smallest position sizes possible and force yourself to stay there until you have two perfect months – and I don’t mean huge profits. I mean no mistakes. Even if you have an average month but you did everything correctly, then that is a perfect month.

You’re developing an ability to handle uncertainty and brush off losses. More than anything you need to be able to handle the losing trades. Any schmuck can call themselves a trader when things are going well. But it’s through the losses that you really find out if you’ve got what it takes. And if at present you don’t have what it takes… find out a way to develop the skills!