In an interview piece on Salon.com, Karen Armstrong, the religious historian and former nun, discusses ego:
So what was the spiritual message (of all religions) that rejected violence?
First of all, they all insisted that you must give up and abandon your ego. The sages said the root cause of suffering lay in our desperate concern with self, which often needs to destroy others in order to preserve itself. And so they insisted that if we stepped outside the ego, then we would encounter what we call Brahman or God, nirvana or the Tao.
This got me thinking about the trader’s Tao, and the importance of trading without ego. This is difficult because trading is a solitary activity and it is very much about the self. I find it helps to view the market not as something against which we must prove ourselves, but as something that just ‘is’. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to extract a profit, just that we should try without ego. If you watch the film clips in my vodpod strip on the sidebar, if you subscribe to Trader Magazine (I will not be renewing my free subscription), or if you read the many accounts of top hedge fund managers, it is easy to believe that one need’s an inflated sense of self in this game, but I believe this is a fallacy. Ego is best avoided as it brings about false confidence, arrogance, and an inflated sense of self, which can give rise to ultimately destructive trading behaviours, to hubris. What is more, the seed of ego is nourished not only by positions that are moving against us, but also by early trading successes, and we simply cannot afford to let it take root. Without ego we are more balanced and our motivation and confidence is pure. This is not easy to achieve, but I believe it is worth striving for.
I have added ‘abandon ego’ to my behavioural road-map.