Trading – ten common elements of success

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This post is a guest contribution by Charles Kirk, author of the popular The Kirk Report.

From time to time I have been asked to offer my perspectives on things I have found common in successful traders. I have always struggled with my reply to that question because there are only a few traders of which I have gained enough understanding of what they do every day to achieve their results.

However, in Van Tharp’s latest book “Super Trader,” he provides ten common characteristics frequently found among the best of the best among the hundreds of traders he’s worked with throughout his career. Like me, I think you may find it of interest!

1. They all have a tested, positive expectancy system that’s proved to make money for the market type for which it was designed.

2. They all have systems that fit them and their beliefs. They understand that they make money with their systems because their systems fit them.

3. They totally understand the concepts they are trading and how those concepts generate low-risk ideas.

4. They all understand that when they get into a trade, they must have some idea of when they are wrong and will bail out.

5. They all evaluate the ratio of reward to risk in each trade they take. For mechanical traders, this is part of their system. For discretionary traders, this is part of their evaluation before they take the trade.

6. They all have a business plan to guide their trading. You must treat your trading like any other business.

7. They all use position sizing. They have clear objectives written out, something that most traders/investors do not have. They also understand that position sizing is the key to meeting those objectives and have worked out a position sizing algorithm to meet those objectives.

8. They all understand that performance is a function of personal psychology and spend a lot of time working on themselves. You must become an efficient rather than inefficient decision maker.

9. They take total responsibility for the results they get. They don’t blame someone else or something else. They don’t justify their results. They don’t feel guilty or ashamed about their results. They simply assume that they created them and that they can create better results by eliminating mistakes.

10. They understand that not following their system and business plan rules is a mistake.

Source: Charles Kirk, The Kirk Report, November 18, 2009.

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