Learning to accept losses as part of the game and cutting them short is the single most important step towards becoming consistently profitable. It sounds simple, but in reality is extremely difficult for everybody. Why? Because we’ve been taught that giving up is for losers and we should fight till last breath. I certainly agree that you should not give up quickly, but only if you can influence the end result. Let me be clear, the stock doesn’t know that you own it and it doesn’t care that you cannot afford to lose the money. The market will strip your last cloth if you don’t know how to manage risk. You have to understand and accept your power. You cannot move the market. You cannot tell him where to go and how fast. This is why so many people, who are successful as entrepreneurs and engineers, have troubles breaking even in the capital markets. It takes a special kind of person. Someone, who can forget his ego and concentrate on what actually works. Very few people are able to reach that level and to distinguish their trading life from their personal life.
Trading or investing is a skill that can be learned. There are two ways to learn a new skill in general. Through the school of hard knocks and through the mentorship of others that have the gift of teaching. To become a successful trader, you need to somehow implement both approaches. Nothing can replace personal experience. You can hire the best mentors in the world to teach you and purchase the most expensive equipment and trading software, but this is not going to help you to build a new skill. Skill building is subdued to eternal physical laws. There are a hundred billion neurons in your brain. For every skill that you possess (speaking a language or driving a car), there is a certain combination of connections between some of your neurons. To build a new skill, you need to build a new net of connections. This is why every beginning is hard, this is why big changes do not happen overnight. You have to establish new connections, which takes hard work via repetition and visualization.
People trade their beliefs. This is why is so hard to trade someone else’s market approach. You just don’t trust it enough. I have found out that the best way to build a solid market understanding is to devote efforts to studying past winners. I meticulously study the best performing stocks at different time frames (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually) and try to figure out what most of them had in common before they made their big moves. Such an approach helps me to filter out the factors that are truly driving prices.