In the 1880s, the psychologist William James developed and began teaching his “As If” principle of life. This might not make any sense to some of you, but it works. For example, if you want to be courageous, try to act courageously. If you want to be a nice guy, start putting a smile on your face and be friendly. If you want to be a great trader, then think like the great traders before us. You cannot be a great trader without first thinking that you are one. You get it?
A person that constantly thinks that he or she will fail in trading, cannot learn how to trade, or just simply has feelings that he or she will “never make it”, will inevitably fail. Think, act, and be like Jesse Livermore, Bernard Baruch, Nicolas Darvas, Gerald Loeb, Richard Wyckoff, William O’Neil, Jim Roppel, Steve Cohen, and many, many others. They play (played) to win and that’s how you should play: play to win.
Soon, you’ll find that your mental and spiritual faculties are like damn fine bartenders. They always give you exactly what you ask for and never ask questions. If you act as though you expect to be a bad trader, your mind and spirit assumes the demeanor of a nobody with little prospect of success. After all, being a nobody doesn’t require much skill at all. None, in fact.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare wrote, “All the word’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…And one man in his time plays many parts”. William James would tell you to pick out any part in life that you want to play and then play it with all your heart. If you are good at it, that is what you will become. If you pick trading as one of your life’s primary goals, then play it with all your heart. It’s as simple as that, because the “As If” concept works.
Suppose a play has been written for you in which you portray a person who is in the process of making a fortune in trading. The part requires a person of great psychological control, have a burning desire to learn, be able to make quick and informed decisions, possess strong self-discipline, develop and master a winning strategy, be willing to take risks and accept losses, adapt to the ever-changing conditions in the market, have tremendous confidence in his or her’s own abilities.
Could you play that role? You could if you practiced enough, that is, if you worked on your abilities enough. You can do this successfully when you get the focus of your mind to support you and reinforce your efforts.
However, suppose you were assigned a part like this and you chose to play it by dressing up as a bum, slouchy, shiftless, and irresponsible. How about in a lazy, irresolute manner, acting as if you had no ambition, no determination, no confidence, no plan, and no faith in yourself that you could ever accomplish being who you want to be. Combine this with telling yourself, “I can’t do this” or “I’m too afraid” or “I wasn’t cut out to do this“, then you’re really in trouble. This would make a terrible performance and no one would attend!
Consider something: How long would it take a person to become a successful trader if he or she continually depreciated themselves, thinking and talking failure, dressing like failures, and always in an environment that breeds failure? The answer to this question is all too obvious, yet millions of people are trying to achieve a level that never dreamed of ever achieving but still play the part of failures. They do nothing about it, or if they are, they aren’t trying hard enough.
Have you heard of the “poorhouse atmosphere”? Sometimes, you can gauge the quality of a person’s outlook on life by simply looking at them. You can tell how big the streaks of pessimism are in their lives and how much they have been soured by bad experiences. That’s how powerful the effects of their negative thinking have become — it manifests itself in their outwardly appearance. This is truly a powerful force. When people believe the worst about everyone and everything, this is called the “poorhouse atmosphere”. Avoid it at all costs.
The “As If” principle is a tool to get you from where you are right now to where you want to be. So how do you bring about such an extraordinary change? The laws are many, but none are difficult. One of the more important ones is to put yourself apart, letting your energy, determination, eagerness, and faith take you in one direction and one direction only. Focus your efforts through the power of this principle. Whatever you want can be yours. The end result will amaze you.