I rarely read trading books. Experience tells me most are a waste of time. However, I read every performance book I can get my hands on. One of the best is Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning.
Josh was the chess prodigy that the movie "Searching For Bobby Fischer" was based upon. Not only was he one of the best American Chess players ever, he also made himself into a martial arts world champion. How did he become a champion in two very different fields? Simply put, Josh's talent is understanding the art of learning.
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Josh believes in acquiring a deep understanding of a discipline, and points out that few actually undertake the time and effort to gain mastery. For instance, he points to most American Kung Fu classes that teach students a plethora of average techniques at a superficial level, never actually mastering anything.
To gain mastery, one must take a technique or strategy, break it into parts, and study each part in depth. For example, Waitzkin spent thousands of hours studying the relationship between two chess pieces, king to pawn. He focused on nothing else. This gave him a keen understanding of these two pieces, their relationship on the board and the subtleties of each piece. Once he gained mastery, he moved on to another relationship. In time, these parts that he studied would come together and the whole was mastered.
It is not difficult to see how this learning technique applies to traders. I can't even count how many bad traders I have run into that are encyclopedia's of every setup and candle pattern known to man. On a superficial level, they seem to be geniuses. Yet somehow they are bad traders. It is because they know a lot at a superficial level, but do not truly understand what they have memorized.
So "trivia trader" can name every bearish topping candle pattern. As I type, I could only name one or two. However, while their names escape me, I understand the psychology behind why they are bearish, can recognize them on different time frames as they develop and know how to trade them. I choose mastery over the superficial.
When I work with students, some become frustrated because they want that toolbox of 20 setups right now. I could easily give them what they want, but who does that really serve? Instead, I spend many sessions going over the intricacies of that one setup before moving on. The process can be tedious and frustrating, but in time the student gains mastery of the setup. Then we can move on.
If you are serious about trading, work hard to learn everything you can . . .about that ONE thing. Then over on to the next. Master a few things. In time, those few things will become many and the "whole" will follow.
Put it into action right now! What is the one things you plan to master? Let me know in the comments below or by email and I will get back to you with an idea of how to go about doing it.
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