The 4 Crucial Beliefs Of Successful Investors
If you don’t believe in yourself as an investor and have absolute faith in your methodology, trading the markets will be like trying to nail Jello to the wall.
We use to joke that my high school buddy, Brian Maxwell, was a force of nature – so much so that the weather would follow him wherever he went. In truth, it was his beliefs that fueled his behavior. Brian was a world-class marathon runner. When he created PowerBar, he believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that its formulation would allow him to break through the inevitable 21-mile wall that all runners hit in a marathon race. His absolute belief in his PowerBar formulation allowed him to aggressively run to 21 miles knowing he would blast through “the wall”. The faith he had in his methodology facilitated his near-evangelical zeal as he pedaled PowerBars out of his van at numerous race events. His beliefs resulted in the building of a 300-person company that he eventually sold to Nestle for $375 million.
Ask yourself this: what do you believe?
Similar to my friend Brian, I know that my beliefs in four crucial areas determine how my trading profits will stack up at the end of the year. These are the four “touchstones” I ask myself each week:
Do I still believe 100% in the methodology I have written down in my trading plan?
Do I believe I still have the ability to control my emotions and produce the appropriate behavior necessary to trade the market?
Is my faith in my tools and indicators still unwavering such that I can confidently risk my capital based on their readings?
Do I still believe in the “law of probabilities” and that by consistently executing my system, I’ll earn a profit?
In embracing these four beliefs, I see myself as part trapeze artist and part quarterback. As a trapeze artist, I am able to let go of the bar trusting that a partner will be there to catch me; as quarterback, I throw the ball to X believing that the receiver will be where he should be. My beliefs become my trading partners.
In my experience, it’s been uncanny how my beliefs and my ability to envision certain outcomes – both athletically and professionally – have contributed to events becoming reality.
Bottomline: As an investor, you must be intimately in tune with your beliefs at all times and be aware of those symptoms that might suggest your beliefs are drifting off course. Understanding your own beliefs about investing will empower you to produce consistent profits in a manner no other personal attribute can do.
In his Market Wizards books, Jack Swagger interviews an outstanding collection of renowned investors, traders and money managers. The single most common thread that each mentions as being a major contributor to their success is their money management skills.
The challenge is to understand what they mean by money management. The internet is full of definitions, ranging from simplistically useless to overly complex and potentially harmful. In past years, I’ve surveyed my classes for their personal definitions. On two separate occasions a decade apart, we constructed in class definitions that I believe accurately capture what these market wizards meant when they attributed their success to their money management skills.
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What both groups of the investors I surveyed agreed upon was the notion that money management is a process. In its most basic form, it involves setting goals, getting organized and executing a written investing plan. Both groups also agreed that money management is very personal and individualistic in nature. It will change over time as the investor’s needs shift, but honesty and candor are essential ongoing ingredients in any effective written money management plan.
My first investor group formulated a money management process consisting of 8 issues constructed as questions that challenged each individual investor to answer in writing in a manner most appropriate for him or herself.
How do you get your money? What are the sources of your cash flow and are they dependable or variable?
How do you feel about money? Did you inherit your wealth and see money management as a burden or part of your lifestyle? What is your tolerance for risk?
Where do you move your money? What percentage of your assets are you comfortable placing in various asset baskets? Do you see yourself as an investor, a trader or a watcher?
How do you move your money? What are your investment analysis routines and which trading methodology do you employ?
Why do you move your money? How will you decide it’s time to invest?
How do you protect your money? What sell disciplines do you have in place? Have you adequately insured yourself and your family to protect all your assets?
How do you spend your money? What are your lifestyle priorities? How much money will you invest, spend and distribute?
When will you spend your money?