The typical list of success traits always includes characteristics such as discipline, focus, passion, commitment, determination, and confidence. Again these can be found almost anywhere and in any book you read. When applied right they can act as a framework for achieving success in all aspects of your life.
I also intentionally left out #14 on this amazing list for you to add your comments and share your ideas on what makes a successful trader (or not).
But what I’m talking about here specifically are the characteristics that relate to trading for a living. During my time at Deutsche Bank and BB&T I had the opportunity to watch and be coached by some very successful traders. Then when I started coaching people 4 years ago it only reaffirmed the qualities that separate the “successful” from the “unsuccessful” traders.
1. Discipline Is All Or Nothing
One cannot be disciplined up to a certain point and yet call themselves disciplined. It’s all or nothing. Either you are going to be a trader or you are not. Discipline needs to be exercised at all times and not sometimes only. This doesn’t mean you focus 100% of your day on trading – that would be crazy – but that you are 110% committed to becoming better over time.
2. Losing Is Welcomed To Learn From
You will lose money – and the sooner you accept this fact the quicker you move on. Since everyone losses money, the thing that separates great traders from bad ones is that great traders learn from the losses. Welcome the opportunity to advance your strategy or adjust your trading plan after a loss. Here’s an example of one that happened to me recently.
3. Never-Ending Student Of The Markets
The markets are changing every day and you need to fully understand how it works. As it’s changing you have to learn to evolve and change with it. Sometimes this requires adjustments on your part. The moment you engage to learning new things, there will always be good opportunities which will be opening up.
4. Unique Trading Personality
You are an individual and your trading should reflect that. Trading has a way of uncovering the personality of individuals by making them trade outside their comfort zones. So it is very crucial to match your personality with the right kind of trading.
5. Can Separate News Hype From Reality
It is a crucial trait for you to know how to think for oneself without being influenced by the media and the news. All the great traders normally know how to think for themselves on some level. This is why I tell every person who signs up for a members that I don’t want them around for 5-10 years (that means they haven’t learned anything). You need to be honest with yourself, make personal decisions and reach your own conclusions.
6. Simple, Yet Clear Planning
It is more likely for a trader to be successful if you have a plan than if you don’t have one. What are your goals and how will you get there? How will your protect yourself from losses and at what point will you take profits? What will you do with your winnings? There are countless questions to ask here.
7. Proactive And Not Re-Active
Probably the most important on this list! A trader needs to know how dangerous it can be if you overreact and make quick decisions without thinking. The ability for you to become a better decision maker will arise from experience gained in trading. Be proactive in knowing every possible move ahead of time and don’t just react to what the market gives you.
8. Commitment To Learning What You Fear
The most attractive things in life comes from the most unattractive activities in life. Most successful traders have developed over the years a sense of “status-quo” in their plan. They got burned by options before and will NEVER trade them again. Well, you need to learn about options and futures and stocks and forex so that you understand how they all work to affect each other. Don’t be afraid to re-learn!
9. Being Patience With The Markets
A successful trader will be quick to take losses and slow to make profits. Beginners take profits quickly because they’ve never had them before and fear losing them. Wealth isn’t built in a day or a week – it is slowly accumulated with consistent trading strategies.
10. Remaining Extremely Humble
Okay so I goofed and this one does apply to life also. But still holds true that you need to be a persona of humility and respect. Give to others and you will receive.
11. Keeping Accurate Trading Records
Having the right records to refer from will avoid a trader from making wrong decisions and thus avoiding losses. Keep accurate records of your trading book.
12. Balancing Your Life Outside
The ultimate goal off any trader is to make money and be financially independent (or at least that’s my goal). However, it should be understood that life needs to be enjoyed and not suffered in the name of sacrificing for the sake of trading. Go to the gym, take a walk, do something other than sit in front of the trading screen all day for God’s sake!
13. Trade To Live, Don’t Live To Trade
If you’re serious about trading for a living, working to incorporate these traits is a step closer towards your goal. Starting small and determining why you want to become a trader in the first place will help drive you through the tough times as they are inevitable. Just as I mentioned in #1, the determined and disciplined trader will make it in the end!
14. Reader’s Choice
Now it’s your turn to add your comments and let me know what YOU think makes a successful trader. I’m sure that there are qualities here that I haven’t even thought of yet. Maybe there are some characteristics that “bad traders” exhibit which makes them unsuccessful…