professional development

The disciplined trader’s guide to success

Dale Gillham /

Recently I was chatting with a friend who is very successful in his own right, and he asked me my thoughts on why many people are not able to achieve success when so many desire it. He asked for my opinion as I have spent nearly two decades teaching investors and traders to be successful, yet the people I have been able to help are only a small percentage of those who investigate how to become successful in the sharemarket. In this article I investigate why so few succeed.   

When I distil everything down to its most basic form, I think success or lack of it all comes down to making a commitment to change. Or, for those who do not achieve success, a lack of commitment  to change. So why don’t people commit? The simple reason is fear of failure.   

I would like to share with you some simple points that I learnt the meaning of around 20 years ago when I did some training with Wayne Berry of Top-Gun Business Academy. While I had studied success before and had mentors,  Wayne, who is now a friend as well as mentor, gave me a road-map on how to become successful at anything in life.

His approach still rings true today, as it did when I first took hold of it.  

Wayne’s main points are:

1.            Average people don’t commit

2.            Be 100% responsible for yourself

3.            Discomfort is good, as it is a sign of growth

4.            Make mistakes and learn from them so you correct yourself

We all want to get the most out of ourselves, and taking on the above four points to achieve our goals is really all about discipline. When teaching people to trade I drum into them that they need to take a disciplined approach to their trading – but what is discipline?

Wikipedia says: In its original sense, discipline referred to systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct.

Here are my thoughts on Wayne’s four key points.

1. In answer to my friend’s question as to why many fail, I have found that average people don’t commit and this is why the majority stop. This is because while the thought of having a successful portfolio is appealing to all, very few are willing to commit the time, money and energy not only to learn but to do what is required.

2. Some start down the path of learning to invest and then stop if it gets a bit too hard or they make a mistake. At this point they start to play the blame game, as Wayne calls it – pointing the finger at everything and everyone else except the person they see in the mirror each morning. I have learnt that to be successful you really need to take responsibility for yourself and the outcomes you would like to achieve. I do this by surrounding myself with people who expect more from me than I do from myself. In other words, they don’t take excuses and I don’t make them.

3. Commiting to stretching your comfort zone can be tough but worthwhile.  As a introvert by nature, many years ago I had to really stretch my comfort zone and present on stage. Having to present is terrifying to most people and I was no exception, however, now I am not only good at it, but I love it. When you experience discomfort you grow as a person, and from my experience the average person is afraid to move outside their comfort zone.  

4.  I cannot remember how many times I have heard research that the most successful people are the ones who failed the most. While intellectually we understand this, realistically we never think this is actually how it will be for us, and as a result many give up after one or two mistakes.  When teaching traders I explore with them mistakes and where things will not work, and I do this so that they develop the skill in recognising when things might be going wrong so that they can readjust.

I have found that if you learn in a perfect world you believe everything works that way, and when it comes to investing, this type of thinking leads to costly mistakes.  All too often I find men, especially,  fail to admit to a mistake and in doing so compound the issue rather than saying it is OK to make a mistake, adjust and move on.

Rule number one:  Mistakes equal earning experience, not failure.

Given this, making mistakes leads you to make positive changes. You have learnt what won’t work, and thus you’re closer to what will.

The good news is that anyone can take hold of these four points, as I did from Wayne, and make them their own to achieve success in whatever they decide.  Just commit. 

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Dale Gillham

Dale Gillham is the co-founder of Wealth Within.

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