Emotions are at the root of trading problems. Yes, emotions can interfere with concentration and performance, but that doesn’t mean that they are a primary cause. Indeed, emotional distress is as often the result of poor trading as the cause. When traders fail to manage risk properly, trading size that is too large for their accounts, they invite outsized emotional responses to their swings in P/L. Similarly, when traders trade untested patterns that possess no objective edge in the marketplace, they are going to lose money over time and experience an understandable degree of emotional frustration. I know many successful traders who are fiercely competitive and highly emotional. I also know many successful traders who are highly analytical and not at all emotional. Trading is a performance field, no less than athletics or the performing arts. Success is a function of talents (inborn abilities) and skills (acquired competencies). No amount of emotional self-control can turn a person into a successful musician, football player, or trader. Once individuals possess the requisite talents and skills for success, however, then psychological factors become important. Psychology dictates how consistent you are with the skills and talents you have; it cannot replace those skills and talents.

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