Autumn is here and with it comes the introspection of the summer it succeeds. With a three month siesta away with work, a family holiday and a daughter I’d hardly seen I had anticipated the summer of 17 being busy with anything other than trading. As it happened it turned out to be a hugely beneficial summer and most of it was unexpected.
Back in May I departed the UK to Sesto Calende, Italy to the home of Leonardo Helicopters. It was the start of a three month period of ground, simulator and aircraft training both in Italy and the UK which would see me qualified on the new AW 189. It was an intensive course but one I was really looking forward to, especially since my course mate was not only a friend, but also a performance coach and on the same page with most of the way I see life. To say I loved learning to fly the 189 would be an understatement, but it isn’t the subject of this post, it is (if you’ll excuse the pun) the vehicle for it, and a gorgeous one at that.
Leading up to going away I’d racked my brains as to how I was going to keep my trading progress up, but naturally my responsibility to work took precedence and although we would be getting a fair amount of spare time while in Italy, practically I wasn’t going to be able to get much done in the markets. So as I boarded my flight to Italy I relaxed into the idea that the occasional video review on my iPad was as good as it was going to get and felt happy that I’d pick trading back up in the Autumn, after all the training was finished, and a holiday to France to boot.
Surprisingly, thats not how things went. Scattered in amongst the ground school and simulator sessions in Italy were the occasional day off and immediately we made a pact not to waste them, neither of us had spent much time in Italy before and being based near Milan it seemed a shame to waste our down time.
Within a week we had discussed trading at length and it wasn’t long before my friend kindly volunteered to become my trading coach, I jumped at the chance. Coaching is an amazing thing, naturally when you are learning to trade and hearing about all those that have made it, along with all that the trading psychology has to sell, coaching is something you are exists. I didn’t however think I’d ever need one until I was trading profitably, it was something you pay for with profits to increase edge, or so I thought.
This was the first massive breakthrough of the summer for me. Bubbling away under the surface there were so many things I hadn’t stopped to think about, so many questions I’d not asked myself. Often, trading is a solo sport, something you chip away at privately, without the chance to really discuss it deeply with anyone. Within a few conversations over dinner I’d probably achieved more self discovery (for both good and bad) than I had in years previously.
Most conversations happened on the road. This is where progress came, For me, conversations are progress. Whether you have them with yourself, a diary, trading coach or spouse you need to have them. We discussed everything from the principles of scalping, fees and minimum targets for break even, to the dreams of success, proving it can be done and the realities of the restrictions life demands of you.
Mid way through the course we had a weekend to kill, so far in our time off we’d visited some stunning places, Bormeo and the Stelvio Pass, Lake Como and Lugano were incredible, but for us there was a place a few hours drive away that had to be done. Monaco.
Monaco for me was always a mythical place, somewhere you see in movies or on the Discovery Channel series Super Yachts. I’d hardly ever paid it much attention as a place because, well I just didn’t think I’d ever go there, why would I? I’d never be eligible for the Monaco life and if I ever was, I wasn’t sure it’d appeal. When I got to thinking about it I imagined a place that, was exactly how it ended up being. Set beautifully into the coast, full to capacity with biggest Yachts imaginable and full of people who were either wealthy, tourists or locals. Now, to get wrapped up in the grandeur of it all I think would be a mistake, but to spend a day getting to see such an incredible place was something not to be missed, and besides, it had super cars – lots of them.
We wanted a day of inspiration and to say we got what we wanted would be an understatement. We had a great day car spotting and imagining ourselves driving from the UK to Monte Carlo in the Lamborhini’s trading would pay for. We enjoyed looking at the heliport and imagining who the customers of the private aircraft were and what they were up to, but the best came as we were reflecting on it all during our long drive home. As we stumped up €60 for the road toll we chatted at length about personal sabotage, imposter syndrome and the raft of other things that hold us back. We discussed what we’d seen and what it might be like to live the Monaco life. When it was all said and done we came back to the conclusion we always did. In reality, the material things are great in good measure, but time with family and the ability to chose one’s destiny, work for it and live it, that’s what matters, and with that we were thankful for the conversation and for a fantastic trip to a pretty unique place.
With the memories of Monte Carlo behind us we were now firmly into the Simulator training. We were working some odd hours, mostly deep into the night learning the new aircraft. It would be a few weeks later when we got a few days off. With one day trip of inspiration left to tick off we decided to save it for last which gave two days off in the hotel. In my Coach’s eyes there was only one thing for it. After we’d finished revising all we had to for the week ahead he wanted to see me in front of the Trading Screen.
With the air con turned up full and with fresh Italian coffee in our hands I sat down to trade. All in all I made a handful of trades, a couple of scratches, two winners and some losers to boot. I was down money but not a lot. It was nice to be able to spend a few of the hours I had spare using the screen to paint a picture of trading rather than trying to simply describe it. My natural self fell into thinking that again I was just playing at it, that I wasn’t really someone that could ever achieve success at this, but as ever my opinion would be changed by the voice sat next to me. “What is apparent is how much you love this” he said. “You get so animated when you describe things”. He was right.
Back home with a family taking up most of my spare time I hadn’t realised how little I got to discuss any of this with anyone, I realised how much I wanted to achieve success with trading that day, but in order to do it, I’d have to make some sacrifices.
What was painfully obvious in recent trading sessions was how much it was hurting taking the smallest of losses. It was killing my appetite to get back in after and it clouded my judgement. I needed to have a big think about my account size, but all in good time, it was back to work as my time in Italy was coming to a close. Before we left we had one more trip – The Lamborghini Museum.
The day we visited the Lamborghini Factory was an incredible day. The day before we had finally got our hands on the new aircraft we’d been working hard to learn and hasdspent a fantastic day flying through the Italian Alps, greedily consuming both the aircraft and the Italian countryside. To follow it up with a visit to the home of the Raging Bull was the cherry to beat all cherries.
Set into miles and miles of farmland the home of Lamborghini in Sant’Agata Bolognese is an impressive complex. With Italian and Lamborghini flags flying proud high above the building it sets an impressive stage for a museum that charts the history and the development of the Lamborghini lineage. We managed to get ourselves on the factory tour which is 45 minutes of sheer delight culminating in the witnessing of the engine block going into an Aventador SV, highly specced and bound for a client in some far off land. It was a fitting end to a great day.
Of all the material things people lust after, cars are not surprisingly high on the list. There is a part of me that feels bad for loving Lamborghini’s, a part of me that feels like I sound like I’m making excuses when I say I just love the engineering involved, the design and the spirit they embody, part of me that feels I’m just being materialistic. It is however, true, I love them. I would quite happily have a Huracan in my trading office should success allow it, just sat there as a piece of art, a piece of proof. As I walked out of the factory to our hire car, I decided that’s what I will do.
As we left Italy for our training back in the UK we mused over what we had seen. We felt privileged to have learned our new helicopter in such an amazing place and I felt deeply grateful for the conversations and revelations that we had. The month that followed would be training in the UK and with any spare time spent madly dashing to get home chatting about trading naturally tailed off.
Shorty after finishing all the training and getting a few shifts at work under my belt my wife and I packed the car along with our Daughter and headed off to meet the family for a holiday in France. I made a conscious decision that this was family time and deliberately didn’t spend any of it worrying about work, life or trading. I’d made some big inroads into where I felt my trading would head in the future and it would be healthy to have some time to not think about it.
We had a great time in France and it was the end of a wonderful summer. I felt like I’d achieved so much and I felt lucky for past few months of really enjoying life. I’d missed my family tremendously and being home, back doing the work I love was a great feeling. At the start of the year I had hoped that this summer would have seen me trading, making profits and consistently pulling the trigger. As it happened nearly all of my progress has been in the form of planning for my trading future, contemplation and decision making.
The way I trade, like any other way, is a skill. Skill comes with practice and when I practice I definitely see that skill improve, that I am sure of now. The skill however is just one part of the puzzle and if you can’t apply that skill free from the concern of whatever it is that is holding you back then success will most likely prove elusive.
I’ve identified two major issues that are holding me back. Firstly the facts of family life when I’m off of work often mean I miss the open or am called away for periods during the trading session. I need to go away and figure out how I’m going to combat that in order to ensure I can concentrate on the screen, anything else just isn’t doing it justice, I’d be wasting time that could be with my family and I’m not going to do that, to do so would be to defeat the purpose of this endeavour.
Secondly, my account size is too small. This is no surprise of course, it’s one of the first things any educator will tell you – be capitalised. I figured that the amount I’d put to the market would allow me to trade without worrying about big losses, I was wrong, it just ends up being a distraction. John Grady has some great advice on this, and being below is limits I knew it was something I’d need to be careful of.
So I need to commit more to the market, and heres the crunch – I can’t. The reality of life is that the best decisions are the hard ones, the ones you must take out of responsibility. Right now my family and I, like any other family, have things we need to spend money on, things we need to pay for and I’ve decided I can’t accommodate diverting money away to trading, especially when I do so as sporadically as I am. So my last trading decision of the summer, my last commitment to this craft, is not to try and master a particular entry or exit, to gain a deeper understanding of any particular concept or to critique any particular trade. Instead it is simply to stop, for now. To go away and take care of some other things, things that in time will ensure I can come back to trading, focused and without the distractions that knock you off track.
As I draw close on some hugely beneficial months, I’m grateful for all I’ve been lucky enough to do. I’ve just about redesigned the entire way I think about life and how best to ensure a prosperous future. It’s been a tough decision to call time on trading for a while, but I truly believe that if I do what’s required now away from trading, I’ll be able to reap the rewards trading can offer later. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is me making excuses and trying to fade out or admit defeat gracefully, it is not. This journey is a long one, one to be savoured and I’m just stopping for some gas.