3 Things I Wish I Was Told Before Becoming A Trader

Trader Jamal… [Finn mutters and chuckles]

[Jamal laughs] Hey, Finn—What you doing here… Are you here to wind me up?

No, Jam! Shucks—Just heard you’re rich now. [Finn laughs] Trading stole our red-collar boy. How has it being though?

Tough!… I won’t even lie to you man. It’s being real tough. I even told my story here to people. [Grumbles] You know what they said, “I told you so”.

I mean all I wanted was “financial freedom”. Pfft—I don’t even know what I was thinking. I’m broke man! Everything I’ve done has really messed me up, Finn.

[Jamal sighs] I’ve lost close to $70,000 in total. Mistakes, hesitations, personality problems, and fear. I think… I might just quit—Maybe trading isn’t for me man… Came to get some food. We’ll talk later Finn—Bye!

[An old man murmurs]

“As a trader, the key is to learn more about yourself”… Huh! [Jamal chants] What do you mean sir?—Are you talking to me?

Yes, [Old man smirks] Forgive me son—I overheard your complaints to your friend. 43 years ago—I was exactly like you son.  If I may ask, how long have you been trading?

[Jamal stammers] Umm, 2 years sir. It really hasn’t being that long.

Then why are you complaining? [Old man exclaims]… I’ve been in the game for 43 years and I didn’t achieve consistency—until after 10 years of trials and lots of errors. So, don’t give up yet!

Erg! sir… [Jamal chatters]—I just don’t know what I’ve been doing wrong. I can’t tell.

The Old Trader tale

[Jamal continues]

Everything I’ve done has been a total fail. You know, I went to school of candles Pretoria—Nothing has happened, so far. Tell me sir, what else should I do?

All right Jamon… [old man stutters]… It’s Jamal sir [Jamal ejects]

Jamal, can I tell you my story… [Jamal chuckles] I’ll appreciate that sir.

November 3, 1850, I became a trader—A friend introduced me to trading, when I was at my lowest. A short story…

What do you mean sir? I don’t understand… [Old man mulls] I’m going to let you in—on my secret. But, you have to make sure, you’re patient enough to listen.

[Wind whooshing]

On January 5, 1849 I graduated with a first class honors in Business and Finance. It was the greatest day for me—Cos’ I could finally become the Businessman/Banker I’ve always wanted to be. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this great?”

[Old man exhales deeply] So I started job hunting, I focused more on the banking sector… I searched and foraged around Beverly hills but—It was total disappointment. Until, I finally got it.

Hey! guess which bank came through—It’s The First Republic Bank. They took me in. Good pay and all; it was my dream job.

I mean you must be asking, “why quit and become a trader?”

Simple! it wasn’t the life I pictured. I know I wanted to be in the financial sector—Wanted that classy business guy life—But, the idea of sitting in a spot to make money… wasn’t what I imagined. Two words, “It’s Boring”!

Why Quit Your Job Trader

[Bar-man indistinct chattering]

The questions I asked myself was, “Is this where you really see yourself in 5 years?”… That was the only bank that offered me a great job—I knew that per fas et nefas, I am definitely going to have my financial freedom.

So, I started my search again. This time I was specific—No bosses, anywhere in the world and My own time. You should know what that means, right Jamal?

Oh! Yes sir I do… [Jamal chants]  Just curious to how trading met you…

Sir, you graduated with a first class honors in finance yet, you spent 10 years in becoming a consistent trader [Jamal tuts] What happened?

Don’t worry I’m getting there. [Old man mutters] Most traders don’t know this yet but, “It’s really mind over market; EQ over IQ” here. You’ll think that, because I came out with such good grades—I’ll be a market wiz in a short period.

That’s not how trading works!

You know, my friend Victor once said, “The key to trading success is emotional discipline. If intelligence were the key, there would be a lot more people making money trading… Ergo—the single most important reason that people lose money in the trading is because—they become too emotional, in denial, and cannot control these emotions”. 

That’s why Jamal, Trading is really not about your IQ; It’s more or less about you as a person. Your mindset, beliefs, character—everything about you would be tested. As a trader [old man exhales], you are really playing against yourself. It’s you versus you!

I Discovered The Art Of Trading!

[Birdsong]

Before I continue my story, I’ll ask you a question—Do you understand your personality?

Shucks, well… [Jamal stutters] Yes! I do. But, the change hasn’t been easy sir. I realized that my character flaws gets in the way of my progress. [Old man laughs] Exactly! Jamal…

Back to my story. I wasn’t happy with my job; even though it felt like it was my dream job. After working there for a year and reflecting—I realized, “No! man this isn’t what I expected”. It’s a bore!

Most people are like you Jamal. They’d ask, “Why spend 10 years in figuring out trading, if you graduated with a—first class Honors”. It’s because… trading is more than IQ! In trading, the intelligent also encounter problems, if not more—in trading. You know… [Clears throat] You and I.

That’s why I used victor’s quotes.

Now, I was looking for my dream job, which was, making money whilst at the comfort of my home. My degree couldn’t give me that.  I needed to have a skill. But, I’ll let you on a secret Jamal–-“A degree without skill is just nothing more than, a unit of angle measurements”. 

Something happened—on the 15 September, 1850, there was a seminar. The bank made sure every of its staff were in attendance—Most grumbled, some happy, others indifferent. I actually wanted to reject the offer… until I saw the topic of the seminar. It read, “Your missing key to financial freedom”.

[Old man shudders] Of course I went. That’s what I wanted! Ugh… That seminar alone changed my view of the finance industry and I discovered the art of trading. A beautiful art I must say; The best!

Immediately, I saw a reflection, I imagined what it would feel like—If I became a trader.

 Self-Reflection

The moderator said something, he said, “What kind of life do you want to live? A 9-5 till your 60 or an anytime you want till your 30”. You see, I pondered on that quote for the longest time. I don’t think I’ve ever had to think so hard. Anyway, I made a choice!

[Man tuts] I have to know how to trade!

That’s what I said to myself. But, I didn’t quit my job just yet. I needed that job at least, till—I was great at the art of trading. [Jamal sighs] Damn! I probably shouldn’t have quit my job right?

Heh! [Old man nods] Listen, what’s already done shouldn’t be spoken about. You made a decision that was best for you at that time. [Pauses, deeply exhales… then continues]  Jamal you’re still young and there’s still time to make better decisions. As a trader, allow yourself make mistakes; if not, you’ll avoid them only to meet them at the finish line.

Do you understand!… Yes sir. [Jamal nods]

When I told myself that, I started looking. I searched for articles, books and listened to colleagues. We had no YouTube then—all we had were newspapers and the lying broadcast. But, I didn’t give up!

Working in the bank kind of gave me an upper hand—because I had access to financial data. Jimmy was our foreign exchange (forex) wiz. I needed Jimmy to be my friend.

I had to become a trader!

Becoming a trader, gave room to a lot of challenges—I encountered… [Mulling] The first was putting up with old Jimmy’s attitude. Jimmy wasn’t a friendly person but, Jimmy had what I needed. Did that stop me? No!

I had a goal. “I had to become a Trader!”… Old Jimmy wasn’t going to be a hindrance to that plan.

Secondly, I had to be patient because I knew Old Jimmy might say—The words I dreaded the most, “No!”. Which he did—severally!

Each time I got home, I’d tick my trading boxes. Each time, I realized how far I was—from becoming this trader. But, I stayed.

Months passed, days tripled and I finally got a demo account.

Trader Jimmy, Here—I Come…

Jimmy insisted I start with the demo. His words, “You need to get familiar with the system”. So, I started practicing what I’ve learnt and I was doing surprisingly well.

[Tuts] Also started making paper trading cash—I became obsessed with the reality that—it could all be mine. I assumed, “Maybe that’s all I need from learning”.

So, I quit!

Left the bank, told my colleagues, “bye”… I was out!

Hmm… thought to myself, “Hey, Trader …here I come”.

Months passed and I finally invested 50% of my salary into—a live account. I was ready or—I thought I was.

The first few trades were great; an account of $50,000 tripled. “Woah! I can’t believe that worked—what have I been doing in the bank since?”, “Could have been earning twice my salary in a day”, I mulled.

[Cock crowing]

It’s a Friday morning. Hurrah! NFP… “the best time to get the bag”, that’s the phrase Jimmy would use.

Wham! I opened several positions and… Sighs, it ate my equity. Damn! it’s all gone. As if that wasn’t enough—I added more money. Told myself, “You can’t give up now” This is all you have!

In my bank account, $70,000 was left. Hmm… “well, it’s all or nothing” I exclaimed. Dialed the broker and added $30,000… left $40,000 for emergency reasons. Cos’ if I could lose $50,000—then it’s possible to lose more of that. Wasn’t going to be foolish twice!

But, it was actually worse…

For 9 horrible years of my life… I couldn’t figure it out. This Trader became miserable, broke and hurt.

Until, I realized…

One thing the demo does for the trader is, it reveals to you all you can achieve if—you didn’t have emotions. But, you’re human!

We all have emotions—that’s actually a problem. After my years of failing and picking myself up from the fence, I understood the market was trying to teach me something.

Jamal, I’m going to share with you 3 lessons I learnt from my Chi-Fu called, “market”. These lessons all come with sacrifices… It should help you pick up your art and become its master. The first…

As A Trader Become A Great Loser

[Bar-man comes with drinks, Old man gulps and continues speaking]

Jamal, can you think of a trader who actually boasted about his losses?

Most people don’t like to show the black eye and swollen lips—they show you the beauty marks and glittering veneers. Obsessions over something makes you have less of it. To be a good winner; you have to be a good loser.

[Jamal stares in confusion] Huh! what does that mean sir?

You have to come to terms with losing. In-fact, losing should be an opportunity for you to learn something new about—yourself and the markets. Learn to appreciate your losses.

Why sir? It hurts! That’s my hard-earned money… Jamal cries.

Exactly, Jamal! It should. Life is all about lessons and so is the market. Have you ever received something without giving?

[Jamal mulls] Uh… Not that I can remember.

Exactly! [Old man breaks the silence] It’s because you haven’t. In everything, there’s a relationship. Now—this relationship can either be mutualistic or parasitic. Trading is only parasitic if the lessons aren’t fully digested.

Listen, If I gave you $500 and you misplaced it; you became careless—It got missing. What will you do?

[Jamal Tuts] Err, I probably look for it Sir.

“What if you don’t find it, remember it’s not your money”, The man responds.

“I’ll probably cry Sir. How else would I replace it”, Jamal interjects.

Okay great, You know that “crying” doesn’t bring the money back right? That’s exactly what happens in the market. We fail to learn from our mistakes, we let our emotions take over, instead of listening to the actual lesson.

The next time someone gives you $500—I know for a fact—Jamal, that you’ll be more careful. You know why? Because there’s being a loss before. Now, you either learn to protect it or become careless again.

What will you choose?

[Jamal shudders] I’ll learn to protect it Sir.

Good! That’s the first lesson. In the market however, you might keep losing this $500—Each time there’s a loss, there’s a lesson. Right?

Which brings me to my next lesson. It’s a question first; then after the question—comes the lesson. Are you ready for it Jamal?

Heh, yes sir! [Jamal sits closer, sips his drink and brings out a book]

Haha! Nice, you want to take down notes. Interesting…

Will You Allow The Market Bully You?

[Birds chirping, customers chattering]

Have you ever been bullied in life? Either a childhood school bully or a boss… “Oh, my God—Yes sir!”, [Jamal interrupts]

Heh!… okay, That was a fast response—seems you can’t forget that one. It was bad huh?

[Jamal grunts] Bad!

Anyway, bullies’ have power—only when they feel superior. It’s just like a Cat and Mice, the cat seems very powerful when ever he sees a mice—Cos’ he’s bigger. But, most times—The mice is smaller and wiser. A mice that isn’t wise gets trampled upon.

So, If that school bully comes now and tries to bully you, will you allow it?… [Jamal responds] Of course not. I’m probably a lot bigger now and It ain’t possible anymore.

Exactly, Jamal. You got better!

If you’re that kid that got bullied in school, You know it’s no different from the market. The market is that childhood bully, that boss at work—but this time around, I want you to see the market as “Jimmy”. Yeah, he would bully you but—you should allow him: to gain from him.

Try to come to terms with his agreement. Now, you have to be friends with this bully…

What!… [Jamal exclaims] Why, I mean how do you get a bully to be your friend?

“You don’t force the bully to be your friend Jamal, he doesn’t have to like you—but you have to like him.”, The man responds.

The reason you allow this bully (market) to get to you—is because, you get to gain from him (the bully). The bully is a tough nut to crack but, knowing that each pain becomes an experience is the goal. Have you ever lost something valuable before Jamal.

“Uh… Yeah” Jamal stutters, while answering.

Okay, great—how did you feel? Not a pleasant emotion, right?… but, what happens—you learn from the experience. Two choices: you either decide to move on or avoid it right?

What do you do Jamal?

“Run away—I guess. Cos’ I really don’t want to feel that pain again. It’s horrible so why try to experience it twice?”, Says Jamal.

[Both Drink then, laugh]

Trading should a pleasurable pain—like a woman who just lost her virginity. A bittersweet experience…

I thought you will say that. Listen Jamal—the bully is going to keep hurting you, as long as, you still in that school. Likewise, you’ll probably encounter more losses—as long as, you decide trading is what you want to do.

Listen, in life change or experiences just don’t happen—they only happen when they become a necessity.

You decide you want to change; when you know that beating becomes unbearable. It’s not something you run from.

Don’t be a wuss Jamal!

Face it!…You’ll need to actually face it.

Most traders are wimps—looking for the nearest rat… because, the elephant becomes too big for them to handle. So, are you a wimp or are you valorous? The more you learn from the experience—the better you become.

But, the more bruises..

Until, you become so good that—you no longer fear the bully and you might even learn to face this bully. Do you get it? I’ll give you some time to digest that before the last and final lesson.

Try to know the other side

[Jamal checking his watch, Deeply exhales]

“I’m ready sir!”

Great! A wise man once said, “Certainty is the only illusion a trader has.” Do you know what that means? [Utter silence]… I’ll take that as a “no”. Anyway, have you ever seen a coin before? Heh—who am I kidding, you probably have some in you pockets now.

So, a little exercise—shall we?

Now, look at the front of the coin you’re holding—carefully study it, Now—tell me what’s at the back of it? [Jamal scratching his head softly] Eh… I have no idea sir—I’ll have to flip it.

Exactly, most traders don’t actually flip this coin—you see. They don’t even want to know what’s on the other side. You know why? It’s because they love their comfort zone. These are the wuss traders; the ones who run from the bullies.

We call them, “routine traders”.

There are always two sides to a coin but most times, until you flip it… you’ll have no idea what the other side looks like. I won’t even lie—we always like the safe route to things. If something is safe for you, you might just tell yourself, “uh, well—I like it here. Why stress to know what’s on the other side?”. But, in trading—there’s no safe route.

Don’t hold strong opinions about things you don’t truly understand.

You have got to take that risk. No shorts to this cut, Jamal. There are two sides to a trader: the one who runs from the bullies—because the pain become unbearable and the ones who face the pain—knowing that the end to that tunnel is great.

The question is, what side are you on?

Most traders quit because they prefer the latter—“I like it here tommy, don’t pull me out yet—I can’t face the world”, They’ll say.

My final lesson is; have an open mind. The strong willed—don’t always will lots of bucks here. Try not to have a strong opinion in your trading decision. Be the trader who adapts to the changes of the market—not the one controlled by it. Remember, be the lame kid who takes the blow.

[Grinning] Painful but, worth it.

Now You Know… What Next?

[Wind whooshing, birds chirping]

You know Jamal—I tell people, “those who have strong opinions about the markets are either knowledge-able or totally ignorant”. The only strong opinion you should have about trading, Jamal, is—you shouldn’t be married to an opinion. A dangerous thing about trading is that—it isn’t really a game for spectators. If you ask me, the most dangerous sport out there is—trading.

Traders are also the most dangerous people on planet… where-ever you breathe right now.

You know why?

These guys take crazy risk, without any form of medication in place. The number of heart breaks a trader has in a day/week will be enough to make him never believe in love. Haha! Nah trading is actually fun but—don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking, it’s all roses and sunshines. It’s really not!

It’s a mental game—about emotions. Where the emotional ones get kicked out; The heartless/ruthless ones always make it far. Simple!, they really “don’t care”.

My friend Scott will say, “i’m suspicious of people who have strong opinions on complicated stuffs”. Heh! people who sugar-coat things—they don’t tell you what you should hear. They’re also the ones who post for the media sake.

Now most traders try so hard to understand the market that—they actually fail to make money. Don’t lose yourself in trying to beat the market… You can’t!

She’s way smarter and richer. You’re a pauper!

Stick to management cos’, this one’s a thief. She’ll dig you of all your diamonds if you think you can beat her. Probably the smartest woman out there! Anyway, Jamal, I think with this few lessons of mine—you should never, ever, think you’re the worst trader on earth. The fact that you even lost means you tried.

Well, it’s a good thing you met me. Hey! i’m Trader Steve—the worst trader on earth.


All my articles are entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of lazyluchi’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities are entirely coincidental. 

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