Remember getting into the driver’s seat for the first time?
It all seemed so difficult. You got the brake-clutch-accelerator coordination all wrong. Proper gear changes were a far cry. There was no question of looking into the rear-view or the side-view mirrors, since you were looking straight. And the shoulder-glance – just forget about it, you said to the instructor.
Slowly, it all came together, perhaps after a 1,50,000 km behind the wheel. Now, driving is a piece of cake. It’s all there in your reflexes. It’s as if the car is connected to your brain, and is an extension of your limbs.
It took time and effort, didn’t it? And why would it be any different in the markets?
Flash-back to 1988 – high school – our Chemistry teacher Frau Boetticher used to teach us to strive for the “Ueberblick”. Roughly and applicably translated, this analogical German word means “the view from the mountain-top”. In Street lingo, the Ueberblick is about life in the Zone. Frau Boetticher used to push us to get into the Zone. She knew that then, our reflexes would take over. She passed away before our A-levels, after a very fulfilling and successful lifetime of teaching. She was the best teacher to ever have taught me.
When your reflexes make you enter a market, or exit it, or decide on the level of a stop, or a target etc. etc., you’ve managed to put it all together. Doesn’t happen overnight, though. The ball-park figure of 1,50,000 km behind the wheel changes to roughly 7 years of market experience, before one can expect to put it all together on the Street.
Where does that leave you?
As a thumb rule, money-levels at stake in the first 7 years on the Street need to be low. When you’re getting the hang of things, you just don’t bet the farm. That’s common sense, a rare commodity, so I’m underlining it for you.
On the Street, you only learn from mistakes. They are your teachers, and they prepare you to deal with Mrs. Market. No books, or professors or college will make you fit enough to tackle Mrs. Market, only mistakes will. Make mistakes in your first seven years on the Street – make big mistakes. Learn from them. Don’t make them again. Get the big blunders out of the way while the stakes are small. Round up your learning before the stakes get big.
Once your reflexes all come together, you can start risking larger sums of money, not before. Also, in today’s neon age, it’s difficult to stay in the Zone for prolonged periods of time. Something or the other manages to distract us out of the Zone, whether it is internal health or external affairs. When you feel you’re out of the Zone, just cut back your position-size. When you feel you’re back in, you can scale up your position-size again.
It’s as simple as that. Useful ideas have one characteristic in common – they are simple.