Learning Through Failure

Very often we learn more from our failures than from our successes. The path to success travels inevitably through certain failures.

A look at successful traders and entrepreneurs shows that they have been able to survive failure as many times as they have had to. They use failure as feedback. They learn from it and make changes and go on. Many super traders have experienced crushing loss in their early trading years. All of them picked themselves up, made adjustments, and with the sure belief that they could make it back through better trading, did just that.

Successful traders are able to ride through periods of drawdown easily because they believe the drawdown to be only temporary. They distinguish the difference between simple losses and loss that comes from mistakes. Their confidence in their methods and their ability and their vision of what the markets can provide reassures them about their future success. Any period of loss is viewed as transitory.

Fear of failure keeps many traders from the success they so dearly want. They are afraid to fail and therefore either afraid to trade or to admit the failure and learn from it. I’m not saying you should like loss. Winning traders don’t want to punish themselves, but successful traders don’t dread loss either because they know that whatever happens, they can make it back. And they can learn.

Strangely enough, failure is often a necessary stepping stone to success. Those who are too fearful of failure may never get to the success they long for. Fear can lead us not only away from the thing we fear but also away from the thing we seek. Ironically, fear can also lead us directly into the thing we fear. My thesis is that underneath fear of failure is a sense of scarcity.

Confronted with a drawdown, a trader who fears failure will often stop trading or change methods or systems only to junk the new methods or systems at the next drawdown.

The winning trader will not inflexibly keep doing what doesn’t work. His open mindedness allows him to recognize the difference between market conditions and methodologies that do or don’t have a probability of success. A trader with a sense of abundance and a verified method for trading won’t crumble under temporary loss because he’ll know he’s simply passing through a difficult time that will end. He distinguishes between loss and inept or error prone trading.

The flexible trader with the willingness to admit mistakes will learn from the failure, honor that failure as feedback; make corrections, and proceed with the improvements. The winning trader, just as the winning athlete, is in a constant and never ending process of development and growth.

Look at the history of your trading and write down several major failures. As you study each failure, look for similarities and differences between them. Look for the lessons. Identify and define the problems. Look for valid solutions.

As you trade each day, do the same thing with individual mistakes. Write them down as they occur along with the lesson learned. Look for repetitions. Commit to your own development and growth as you learn through experience. Remember, if you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything, including money.