P.G Wodehouse’s ‘The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Golf Stories’ is a rip-roaring, hilarious compilation of short stories centered around the game of golf. Below, I have posted two quotes relevant to trading. The first quote has a direct parallel to trading; the second quote has greater philosophical depth.
– ‘Oh, no. Losing your temper doesn’t get you anywhere at golf. It only spoils your next shot.’
– There are men who are capable of holding the job quite adequately. But then I realise how little I know of their real characters. It is the treasureship, you understand, which has to be filled. Now, a man who was quite good at another job might easily get the wrong ideas into his head when he became the treasurer. He would have the handling of large sums of money. In other words, a man who in ordinary circumstances had never been conscious of any desire to visit the more distant portions of South America might feel the urge, so to speak, shortly after he became treasurer.
This started me thinking about what it is that makes a man. If, for example, a person who becomes treasurer ends up running off with the funds, then this says something about their character, that it is found wanting in a certain respect. However, if the individual had never become treasurer, there is a good possibility that this character flaw would have never been unearthed, in which case the individual may have proceeded to live a wholesome life, free of criminal activity. Different scenarios and incentives bring out the best and worst in people, but the fact is that these character flaws are there, whether they are put to the test or not. They are lurking in the background, waiting for their opportunity to surface and remind the individual of their fallibility.
I have pondered the quote several times over because the market is surely one of the greatest revealer’s of our deficiencies. Before I faced this mirror of self-revelation, I had no idea that I suffered from a host of deficiencies, including an addictive personality, revenge trading, and seeking instant gratification, to name but a few. I realise these flaws are at their worst in the trading arena, but I have also noticed them in other aspects of my life, albeit in a much more dilute form. The question is whether an individual should work through these problems, which can be significant and difficult, or whether they should just steer clear of potentially dangerous environments in which they flourish, if they can resonably do so. I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to tackle this issue, but my solution has been to view the market as a great appraiser of the trader’s character; and while the market environment has revealed some ugliness behind my character, which I never thought existed, I am grateful for the revelations as they challenge me to become a better trader and a better person.