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Dorn: Three Simple Trading Lessons

In ourselves are triumphs and defeat…Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tolstoy’s story “The Emperor’s Three Questions” poses three questions:

1. What is the best time to do each thing?
2. Who are the most important people to be with?
3. What is the most significant thing to do at all times?

In the story, the Emperor traveled far and wide in his Kingdom to find the answers. One day, he came upon a hermit who lived in a small hut atop a high hill. When asked these questions, the humble hermit replied:

1. The most important time is now, because that is the only time over which you have power and control.

2. The most important person is the one you are with right now because you never know if you will be with that person again.

3. The most significant thing to do at all times is to be happy and share that happiness with the person you are with.

The trading lessons are simple—but not so easy:

1. Be with the trade you are in at the moment. Stop trying to control anything but your own trade. The markets are going to do exactly what they want to and when they want to. YOU have the power to control what YOU feel, think, believe and do.

2. All that matters for you is the trade you are in. You may never see that trade again. Savor it, cherish it and be with it for as long as it lasts.

3. Celebrate your victories with yourself. Celebrate the trade and with the trade. The instruction is to refrain from boasting or grandiose behavior when you make a winning trade. The markets will humble you, and pride always comes before a fall. Napoleon said that the most dangerous moments come with victory. Decry and avoid hubris.

Also celebrate your defeats with yourself and the trade because they are mistakes. Mistakes are our greatest teachers because it is through them that we learn. What do we learn? Not to make them again!

Constantly strive to look inward, to know yourself, to raise yourself to the highest level of authenticity. Be rigorously honest about who you are. Taking personal responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions is the first step to true inner peace—both in trading and in life. Never forget the ten most important words you can ever and always ask yourself: Am I doing the best I can do right now?

The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give…Howard Cosell

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Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D., is a financial psychiatrist and chief global risk strategist for Ingenieux Wealth Management in Sydney, Australia. She also offer trading consulting and coaching services via her Web site, TheTradingDoctor.com.