Tag Archives: Performance

Do No Harm


There is a principle within the field of medical ethics which is often expressed through the phrase, "First, Do No Harm".

To simplify the concept, it means that we should ensure that our decisions and actions do not contain potential for harm which far outweighs any potential benefit.

I like this principle. It's useful not just in medicine, but in life in general. And it certainly applies to the field of trading.

You might want to consider applying it as a principle underlying your approach to the markets.

All decisions and actions within your life have potential to either add to your edge or take from your edge.

If you avoid those which can damage your edge you'll go a long way to improving your chances for success.

What do I mean?

Think about those few extra drinks you had last night which have you feeling a little under the weather?

Do you really need to be trading today?

You'll rationalise it by saying "It's only this once. I'll manage ok.".

But it's not just this one time.

By giving yourself permission to trade this one time, you'll make it easier to repeat the behaviour in future.

So I want you to consider this… extend the behaviour into the future. A hundred times. Or a thousand times. Take it to ridiculous levels. It will help you see the damage this can cause.

"If I made this decision a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

You're not trading with the effects of a hangover just once. You're giving yourself permission to do it again. Break it now.

"If I traded with the effects of a hangover a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

Do no harm!

Take the day off. Return refreshed the next day.

Do you know how sometimes you feel like skipping your post-session reviews? You'll just do it this one time, right? Wrong.

"If I skipped my post-session reviews a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

Do you know how sometimes you just know that the market will turn, and so all you need to do is widen the stop a little further? Just this one time, right? Wrong.

"If I widen my stop a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

Do you know how sometimes you're massively pissed off at your job/spouse/partner/life/or-whatever and you know you should put it aside but just can't? So you'll just trade anyway. You're professional enough to not let it influence decision making. Right? Wrong.

"If I trade while under significant life-stress a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

All decisions and actions within your life have potential to either add to your edge or take from your edge.

If you avoid those which can damage your edge you'll go a long way to improving your chances for success.

Do no harm!

Ask yourself…

"If I made this decision a thousand times across my whole trading career, is it likely to add to or reduce my edge?"

You might want to add this to your wall… just above your monitor.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs



Start Again – Start Better – Start Smarter


I love this quote:

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

… Carl Bard

Whenever I wish to do so, I am free to reset today to DAY ONE!

Whatever happened last week, last month, or last year no longer matters.

My new trading career begins now.

Hit the reset button. Clean the slate. And build again… better and smarter than ever before.

Hit the reset button

But here's what I'm thinking…

What if I did this every day?

What if EVERY TRADING SESSION was a new beginning?

I am forgiven my imperfections.

I am forgiven my failures.

Today is a new day… I can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Better… and smarter… than ever before.

Today I will begin work with sufficient rest and relaxation to ensure a healthy body and mind.

Today I will complete my pre-session routines in full, prior to the session open.

Today I will approach the session open with a clear idea of my game plan for the day; and a willingness to amend that plan if price has other ideas.

Today I will eliminate all distractions; maintaining the conditions essential to attaining my Ideal Trading State.

Today I will enjoy the challenges which the market provides.

Today I will flow with the shifting sentiment of the market; adapting tactics to suit the conditions the market provides.

Today I will engage the markets with controlled and focused aggression – standing aside patiently when the market offers nothing but risk, accepting that risk when the market provides opportunity, and attacking the market in force should it provide perfect trading conditions.

Today I will complete my post-session routines in full, allowing me to learn from my data recording and review processes.

Today I will forgive myself my imperfections; and celebrate my successes.

And tomorrow?

Well tomorrow is a new day.

And tomorrow I get to start again; better and smarter than ever before.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs



Improving Performance by Optimising Your Time Perspective


Part of my pre-session routine involves a quick review of my Motivation Journal.

The Motivation Journal is simply a folder containing various pieces of text or image material which I find sufficiently motivating; the aim being to ensure I face each trading session with focus and commitment and, most importantly, confidence.

The YTC Price Action Trader discusses the sections and contents of my journal in Chapter 10. While the content itself changes from time to time, I've been consistent in following that same format for the last six or so years.

However, last weekend I came across a video which I found fascinating, and which has led me to consider changing the format of my Motivation Journal.

It's a TED Talk by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo who you might know from the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.

The topic of this talk is "The Psychology of Time"

Here's the video. Please watch it. It only takes seven minutes.


If the video does not show here, try these alternate links: TED Talk or YouTube

If you have time (pun intended) there is a link at the bottom of this article to a longer video presentation showing a lot more detail. Highly recommended! If not… the 7 minute video shown here will be sufficient to cover the basics.

Prof. Zimbardo suggests that the optimal profile for balancing time perspective is as follows:

  • Past-Positive => High
  • Future-Positive => Moderately High
  • Present-Hedonism => Moderate

Nothing surprising here in that it's all overly biased towards the positive side.

This is a great way to view life.

But I think it also has application in daytrading, in providing structure to our Motivation Journal and ensuring it addresses all three time perspectives.

The benefits of our pre-trading routine including a motivation session based upon the optimal profile, as listed above, should be:

  • A greater likelihood of commencing the trading session with a positive and focused mindset.
  • And a subsequent increase in likelihood of quality performance.

So here's how we could structure our journals:


My Daily “Trading Psychology” Routine


Here's a great question I received recently:

Q. What do you do during a session to maintain a positive trading psych mindset?

What I do during a session cannot be talked about without also discussing the pre and post-session routines. It’s all a part of one whole approach.

I've shared an image previously which I'll include here again, which gives a summary of how I see trading psychology (or performance psychology which is probably a better term).

mindmap of my performance psychology plan

You can see the article related to that image here if it interests you – https://yourtradingcoach.com/trader/creating-the-conditions-for-success/

What I want to do today is to approach this question from a different angle, by listing everything I do with a performance psychology focus as I work through my pre, during and post-session routines.

As noted though in the above image, I see there being two areas of priority for practical application of performance psychology:

  1. State Management
  2. Focus on process


State Management – My aim is achievement and maintenance of my Ideal Trading State. The Ideal Trading State will vary from individual to individual and will typically be found only through trial and error. But for myself, and I suspect most others, it's a calm and focused environment with no distraction.

Focus on Process – My aim is to ensure I follow the process as outlined in my Procedures Manual. It's commonly stated that we need to trade without emotion. That is rubbish. You're human. You can't trade without emotion. Your aim instead should be to ensure that you follow process, despite the presence of emotion which might otherwise interrupt or interfere with your process.

Everything I do pre, during and post-session is done with the intent of enhancing performance in one or both of these areas – state management and focus on process.

Before I step through my routine though, let's first drop back a bit and set a foundation.


Do You Need A Better Belief System


"The words we attach to our experience become our experience."
… Anthony Robbins


The following are extracts taken from email Q&A with traders (taken at random from my email archives).

  • I love trading and keep on working hard, striving to become a better trader each day.

  • I am constantly working on my weaknesses but they are now finally in a minority of sessions.

  • I took 2 months off and took a step back from the charts. I was able to identify several very big problems with my "process", and since then I've addressed the concrete problems and am constantly working on the less tangible issues. The first half of 2013 was incredibly painful, but taking that step back was like a breath of fresh air. I came back to the screen in June, and since then I've doubled what I made in 2012. More importantly, I am much (much!) happier with my process, especially with regard to my journaling and daily review. I'm still working on it, but the idea of process > outcome has become a central theme – I've even printed it out and posted it on the door to my office and on the wall above my main monitor. I ran through the psych and emotional cap exercises in your YTC ebook, and the evolution of my answers have been very instructive as I look through the past 2 years in general and the last 10 months in particular.

What do you notice that is common amongst all these statements?

For me, they are all positive and empowering. These traders are taking personal responsibility for their own growth and development. They are actively working on themselves – expanding their knowledge, building their skill levels and adopting a positive growth mindset.

Let's compare the above statements to these extracts from other email:

  • i just wish i could find a simple method to do over and over which is successful. so far, no luck. 🙁

  • I am not greedy – I just want to execute the perfect trade everytime and let rest take care of itself.

  • i need signals

  • Why do I always feel lost when I look at the chart?

  • I don't care that you disagree. It's clear to me that the broker screwed me over.


Well, apart from the last one which I just find amusing (I guess that comes from my arrogance), what are the common elements in these statements?


Improving Focus – The Essential First Step


For the last year or so my trading computer has been on a desk just to the left of my work computer.

This has been fine except during quiet periods of price movement, when I've often found myself tempted by the work computer. All I have to do is turn to the right and it's within reach.

"I'll just check emails or facebook. It'll only take a second!"

Usually this is fine but occasionally I'll become so absorbed in whatever I'm looking at that I don't realise five or more minutes has passed without watching price.

The good news is that there was a simple fix, which has allowed me to maintain focus on price. I'll get to the solution just below. But let's talk in general terms first, because the solution works for many other causes of loss of focus.

How do you maintain optimal focus in a world full of distractions?

How do you maintain optimal focus in a world full of distractions?

The internet will provide many exercises on willpower and mindfulness, which should help with any focus issues you may have. These are great. But they're not the first step.

The first step is not to work on your focus. The solution is much simpler.


Prime Your Brain for a Permanent Performance Gain (in a Few Minutes)

Guest Post by Steve Pavlina, http://www.stevepavlina.com/

Inside your skull is a massive supercomputer. You own it free and clear. With its 100 billion neurons, and with a typical neuron linking to 1000 to 10,000 other neurons, your highly networked brain is incredibly powerful and capable.

Pick up a simple object nearby like a pen or a spoon, and look at it. Turn it upside down. Spin it around. Notice that your brain is able to recognize the object no matter how you position it. You can change the lighting by putting the object in shadow. You can obscure part of it from view. You can bend or break it. And your brain still recognizes that object simply and easily. Even a child can do this.

But what’s happening under the hood? Your visual cortex, consisting of about 538 million neurons, is doing an enormous amount of parallel processing on the signals it’s receiving from your eyes. Your visual cortex detects edges, evaluates color, tracks motion, interprets reflection, and more — all in real time.


Creating the Conditions for Success

Performance psychology plays a VITAL part in my daily trading routines and processes, as I've outlined in the image below.

mindmap of my performance psychology plan

Have you established your own tools, methods and strategies to ensure peak performance?

If not, why not?

Your trading strategy may contain a tested and proven edge, and yet all too often we see traders poorly implement a strategy leading to underperformance or complete failure. This is because the edge within your strategy is really only a POTENTIAL EDGE.

The reality is that… YOU ARE THE REAL EDGE.

It's the implementation of your plan which determines success or failure.

Trading is a performance activity. Success requires effective operation under pressure. Effective operation requires simple, practical tools and strategies designed to manage your state and optimise your performance.

If you do not yet have effective tools and strategies in place, then you need to take action. Use the headings within the Performance Psychology mindmap (above) to (a) guide your study on the topic of performance psychology, and to (b) guide you in developing routines to maintain focus on process and to establish and maintain a peak performance mindset.


Lance Beggs

Biofeedback for Trader Psychology

(NOTE: This is not an advertisement! It's a report of my first attempts to introduce biofeedback into my trading routine.)

Several weeks ago I advised in the YTC newsletter that I'd bought an emWave2 biofeedback device. My plan was that I'd experiment with it over the following 6-8 weeks and report on it's effectiveness as a state management device for traders.

Quick summary… I like it… and I'm going to keep using it!

trading biofeedback

How I Discovered The emWave2

I'd heard of biofeedback being used by traders before, through the excellent blog posts and books by Dr Brett Steenbarger (see here for all three of his books under the Trading Psychology heading).

But I'd never had any thoughts of experimenting with it myself. The last thing I wanted to do was to be "wired up to a computer" while trading.

Then two months ago I got an email from YTC Price Action Trader reader, Jeff, in which he shared the following article link:

This is quite an interesting article about NFL kicker Billy Cundiff and his use of the portable emWave to place himself into peak physical and mental state prior to performance. This got me interested. And a quick search through Dr Steenbarger's old blog posts and a review of his books, led me to the discovery on page 84 of The Daily Trading Coach that the emWave is the same unit used by Dr Steenbarger himself.

Now I was really curious… and I just had to try one!

What is Biofeedback?


Trading Angry? F**k Yeah!

A common assumption is that a trader needs to be operating with a calm mind and relaxed body in order to trade with maximum focus and ensure peak performance.

Generally, I agree with this idea. Relaxation and positive affirmations have been some of the main tools I’ve recommended when asked for assistance with mindset and psych issues. And for years they have been a key part of my plan – relaxation and calming sessions prior to trading, along with breathing and relaxation routines during session and a recovery routine for when it all hits the fan and I need time out.

Now I’m no psychologist, but I’m not sure that this is always the best way to achieve peak performance.

Quite possibly it is, for most of us, most of the time.

But from personal experience I know that there are times I benefit greater from the very opposite of a calm, peaceful and relaxed trader – what I call trading angry.

It’s important to realise that relaxation is not our end goal. I’m a trader! You’re a trader! And this site is not YourMeditationCoach and is not dedicated to your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. Our end goal is peak performance as a trader.

We should aim to place ourselves in whatever state allows us to best maximise our performance. And while that may often be a state of calm and peaceful relaxation, it’s not always going to be the case.

Other traders have recognised the need to alter their state to maximise performance.

The most famous from recent memory would have to be Don Miller’s use of a fictional drawdown, as explained in his post here: http://donmillerjournal.blogspot.com/2008/07/cornerstone.html. Don has recognised a need for managing his state, and has developed an effective solution. And while I can only speculate as to the nature of his personal state, I’d imagine it’s closer to that of an aggressive comeback mentality, than to that of a relaxed and calm trader. (Don, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

I suspect that if you talk to most pro-traders there will be very few who constantly operate in a calm manner. Rather I expect that most will actively attempt to manage their state dependent on the personal and market-related circumstances they currently face.

What about me? How do I personally trade angry?