”In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” Orson Welles.
I recently watched a four hour recording of a recent trading seminar hosted by Rob Booker in Orlando, where two of the guest speakers, Matt LaCoco and Shonn Campbell discussed the theory that you won’t ever turn the corner to become a successful trader until your back is up against the wall and you have nowhere else to go. That, it is much better to start out with $1000 than $100,000 because you will almost certainly lose the $100,000 if you start out with that sort of easy cushion. This goes along with what Mark Douglas writes about in ,”Trading in the Zone,” about successful traders often have to lose everything and often more than once, before something switches on in their brain and changes something in them.
Now I don’t know about you, but the idea that you must have to have your back up against the wall and be down on your luck before something clicks in your brain, can seem so daunting that it can be shoved to the back of the mind and a decision made that there must be another way. We can then coast along in our nice easy existence, with dreams and hope, rather than grit and determination.
When I was a child my parents used to take the family to the English coast for a couple of weeks each year for our annual summer holiday. On arriving at our holiday destination after the usual unpacking of bags I would promptly head off to the amusement arcades to play the one armed bandits and penny push falls machines. Now most years I would almost certainly have lost all my holiday savings in the first two or three days and would have to spend the rest of the two weeks hoping in desperation for my parents to treat me to ice-creams and treats, as I would then take up the more normal holiday pursuits of swimming, kite flying, shell collecting, inspecting rock pools and throwing pebbles into the sea. Now one year when I was about 14, I’d lost my savings as normal and was up early before any shops or amusements were open and was looking into the joke shop window at the assorted range of stink bomb’s, itching powders and imitation dog poohs and the like, when one of the amusement arcades opened up its shutter doors. I wandered in and found that as the machines started up, the extra judder caused some coins to fall out of the penny falls machines which I promptly picked up. Not enough for an ice-cream or a joke dog pooh but enough to give me a chance of winning more. Well this year something seemed to happen to me and after my spell of financial adversity I suddenly became ultra selective in the machines I decided to play. Both the tops and bottoms of the push falls needed to be well packed and have a good pile of coins starting to overhang ready to fall. I would carefully time my coin drop so I wouldn’t waste a single coin dropping on top of, rather than behind another. If I lost two or three coins I would walk away from the machine. I would watch other losers from a discreet distance and pounce on their machine after they had left, first checking its condition before considering a play. Some machines just didn’t feel like the coins were being pushed right, so I would walk away. I would leave the arcades and go for a walk treating myself to burgers, doughnuts, ice-creams and hot-dogs if nothing seemed to be setting up. I still had moments where I could lose my new found discipline, so I started making rules to prevent me from losing everything and I would repeat them over in my mind as I walked to the arcades at the start of each session. I had three sessions a day to play divided by dinner and lunch when I would go back to the holiday apartment and I decided I would only take a portion of my newly made winnings out with me per session, so if I lost the plot I wouldn’t be losing everything. I didn’t have a key to the apartment so I would have calmed down before I could get access to more money at the times my parents had agreed to meet me back. Suddenly there were occasions when my luck seemed to be just right. I’d put one coin in a machine at the start of a session and the mother-load would drop so I would walk out down to the beach with my winnings to calm my excitement down. I actually ended the holiday taking more money home than I went with and having amassed a number of holiday souvenirs to boot. This minor success story has been at the back of my mind for nearly 40 years as I have struggled to make any sort of success of my life and just now I’m starting to feel the relevance of it the most.
When you read about other peoples success stories one of the most popular themes is the rags to riches story. It is almost like the person in the story needs to make a point about the significance of coming from nothing. And what about all the great sports stories of hungry boxers coming from the mean streets or Brazilian footballers learning as a child by kicking a tennis ball barefoot in the street. What about heroic battles like Rorke’s Drift or WWII Oosterbrook where soldiers had their backs up against the wall and pushed through in the face of adversity, did something change in the minds of the people fighting these battles? During wars the pace of scientific and technological development surges almost exponentially.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s ”David and Goliath,” he discusses ,”The advantages of disadvantages and the disadvantages of advantages,” and ”The theory of desirable difficulty.” An excellent read if you haven’t. All this stuff and I’m sorry that my thoughts can’t be put down in writing as well as I would wish, lead me to think that the key to success is something that is already within us and needs some sort of backs against the wall catalyst to spark it into action.
That’s my Sunday afternoon thoughts for you. I’ve just spent my last £300 on a lifetime membership of Rob Bookers tfl365 and have absolutely nothing left other than the £825 in my Oanda account. I live in a rented apartment with a well worn carpet and old appliances, have a 10 year plus Rover and still have an old CRT tv,although I’ve stopped paying the tv licence fee and the cable fees so I can’t watch it, most of my clothes are well worn, work is trying to squeeze every ounce out of me and I’m approaching 54 with no pension. Things might have to get worse, but I feel good and say bring it on, because I feel my trading is showing some sparks of improvement that has taken four years to achieve.
Cheers I’m outta here.