Thousands of years ago, there was an epic tale evolving in a place that is now known as India. In today’s teachings we refer to it as The Mahabharata.
During this time there was a boy called Arjuna, who was one of five brothers & princes, known as the Pandavas. Now one day, the Pandava brothers along with their Kaurava cousins were out in the forest with their combat and military teacher, Drona, who decided that he wanted to test the boys’ level of focus and concentration.
They trekked into the forest towards a stream where the examination of the young soldiers would begin. On the other side of the stream Drona had perched a small wooden bird on a branch of one of the trees. When they reached the stream, Drona turned to the boys and said “Today I want to see who among you can strike the eye of that wooden bird across the stream”.
The target was not only small, but also quite far away. However the boys were already extremely skilled archers, and although anxious and eager to impress, were all confident that they would achieve the result required by their teacher.
Drona proceeded to call the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhisthira, to stand at the mark first. He asked the boy “Can you see the bird? Tell me everything you can see?”
Yudhisthira wanted to be thorough in his response, and thus began to reel off everything that he could see. “I see the wooden bird, the branch, the tree, the sky, the stream…” and so on. He was poised, waiting for his teacher’s command to shoot, but it never came. Instead of asking Yudhisthira to shoot his arrow, Drona simply asked him to sit back down with the rest of the class, stating “You will not hit the bird”.
One by one he called up the other boys, and all of them gave similar answers to Yudhisthira, and consequently were all instructed to re-take their seats.
Finally, it was the turn of Arjuna. Arjuna was one of Drona’s favourite students, and there was a reason why. Drona knew before he called Arjuna up to the mark, that the young prince would give him the response he was looking for.
“What do you see Arjuna?” asked Drona.
“The eye of the bird” replied Arjuna.
“Arjuna, do you not see anything else?” asked Drona again.
“No, just the eye of the bird” replied Arjuna, looking down the arrow intently.
Drona was pleased. He had finally received the the answer that he wanted. He did not say a word but looked at his other students, who were all sitting silently but began nodding, now understanding the lesson that was being presented to them.
“Shoot” cried Drona.
Well dear Traders, you can imagine what happened next. Moments later, the arrow was lodged right in the centre of the wooden bird’s eye. This is the power of focus and concentration.
Arjuna’s focus and attention was simply on his end result, which was hitting the eye of the bird. As he gave it his full focus, he was able to hit the target.
Similarly, as traders, we need to focus on our end result. Our end result, is to have perfect execution of our strategy – NOT our P&L which is what most traders tend to think.
See, in trading you need to understand that following our process, following our strategy, is the only thing that is in our control. Whether the market moves up or down is out of control. Most traders have no say over this as they are simply trading too small to influence it.
This then begs the question, if we can’t control the market, and thus can’t control our P&L, why is that the focus for many traders? You must learn to place your focus on what you can control, on your end result, which is to have as high a compliance rate to your strategy as possible.
Every single trader will have a certain amount of money that they wish to extract from the markets – there is nothing necessarily wrong with this as such, but it should not be your focus. As mentioned, with no control over the market, we cannot decide what the market will give us! So if you focus too much on wanting they money, you are actually pushing yourself further away from it.
Rather than focus on obtaining the money, keep asking yourself “what can I do to bring me closer to achieving my goal?” – The simple answer is strict focus on your process, which is executing your strategy compliantly.
When you shift your focus away from the money, towards the desired end result of compliance with your strategy, it is highly likely your experience within trading will change drastically. You move away from praying and hoping (which does not work in trading!) towards focusing on following a proper strategy (which does work in trading!). This is a much better use of your time and energy, and thus consequently will allow you to detach from your individual trades in the short term, as you fully understand that the process of following your strategy in a compliant manner will lead to long term success… and that is what we all want to achieve, right?
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God bless, and happy trading!