Friday, 18 November 2016

Fear of Muslims and Fear of Markets

Fear is the most destructive force on the planet. Fear creates war: fear of other nations, other governments, other races, other religions. Fear separates and divides humans: fear of something different, fear of the unknown. Fear prevents people from achieving their dreams: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of moving out of their comfort zone. Fear prevents people from trying new things and taking on new opportunities, being spontaneous: fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of losing face. Fear prevents people from becoming a good trader: fear of red screens, fear of being wrong, fear of not making enough to satisfy friends (or forumites!), fear of the market. It all boils down to this one emotion. Think what could be achieved without it. You see, most of what people are fearful of is nowhere near as scary in reality. There's nothing to fear but fear itself.

These days, so many people (particularly in the west) live in fear of Muslim extremists. But in reality, how many people have been killed by Muslim extremists outside of the Middle East? Obviously any number is bad but some act as if it's happening every week or month in their country, when it clearly isn't. Some people fear Muslims to such an extent that they would like to see a total ban on them entering their country! In the United States, more American civilians have been killed by gun-toting US nationals on mass killing sprees than by Muslim extremists on the whole planet put together! Many thousands more Muslims have been killed by Islamic extremists than any other group by race, religion or nationality. If anything, it's other Muslims who have most to be fearful of! So why are people in the western world so fearful?

Of course it's only natural to have some fear: these people can strike unexpectedly at any time. But the levels of fear have been ramped up to obscene levels by the media and governments. It's our job to stop and think more rationally about things. The chances of any of us being killed in such an attack are tiny. But what the fear does is more than just make us worry, it makes us behave negatively towards others. Now that's the real issue here: people building up hatred and division, demonising entire sections of society for often tenuous links to a tiny minority of nasty people. This is what is happening to the Muslim community. Yet it's so absurd when you just stop and think about it.

If Muslims were all so evil and wanted to destroy western civilisation, trust me, we'd all be dead by now! There are over 2 billion Muslims. If they really wanted us erased from existence, they could do it easily. People tend to forget about the millions of Muslims living outside of the Middle East. Indonesia, for example, which has the largest Muslim majority population in the world - all living relatively peacefully. When's the last time you heard Indonesia or Indonesians mentioned in regards to Islamic terrorism? India, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh have 4 of the 5 largest Muslim populations in the world, yet of that top 5, most people would only associate the other nation (Pakistan, 3rd largest) with being Islamic or having obvious links with terrorism. None of these countries are even in the Middle East!

But I believe this fear begins from a personal perspective. So many of us are living our lives in fear because we are afraid to go for what we really want. The dream job, the perfect partner, the life-changing trip abroad, the move to another town, the activity or hobby that fulfills us. So many of us are stuck in a rut, often disguised as a "comfort zone", which we want to get out of but fear of losing that relative comfort prevents us from doing so. So we are doomed to a life of mediocrity and regret because we won't take a risk. And pretty much all good things that happen in life, come from taking some sort of risk.

The same can be applied to trading. That fear of taking a risk, which is the only real way to be successful at trading, means that the vast majority will fail. I saw it time and time again with students in my academy. People want to make vast sums of money but aren't willing to invest the necessary time or take on large enough positions or prices, in order for that to happen. Instead, they try to scratch around for pennies, dipping their toe into the market for a matter of seconds before jumping out in fright and expect to be a millionaire in a matter of months. Or they wait to see which way the wind is blowing before jumping onto a steam-train which has already left the station and is about to judder to a halt, too late to earn anything significant. Or they won't put the hours in, thinking a couple of trades a week will give them the experience required. No successful trader ever got there without taking a risk: in deciding to give trading a try, giving up their free time, not giving up till they achieved it and in doing things differently to the majority of the market.

The best traders understand that risk is a necessary evil and that to take on risk, you can't be fearful. In fact, if you take on risk in the correct manner (with a strong risk-reward ratio in your favour and a clear exit strategy) then you have very little to fear in the first place. Nothing at all if you've made the crucial step of trading with money that you can afford to and ACCEPT that you might lose. It's only when you start to see losses as a fearful situation, rather than a necessary and unavoidable part of trading, that traders start to behave irrationally and make errors. It's not the situation that causes the problem  - it's the fear that an individual ASSIGNS to the situation. And that is a choice that every individual makes. You choose to assign fear or you can choose to assign something more neutral or even positive to the situation. It's ALWAYS a choice. Just as it's a choice to fear another race or religion or culture or nationality.

Once you understand that the power is totally within you to decide, you will be in an almost unstoppable position.  Many people don't understand this though. They believe that external factors (such as someone shouting at them or the market flipping the other way) are responsible for their emotional response. That they have no control over that response because something or someone else was to blame. "They made me angry". But the truth is only YOU can make yourself angry or fearful. Many don't want to be told this truth because it means they can't blame anyone else and they want to have excuses for why they can't do this or that. No one is at fault, the blame game helps no one. But there are no legitimate excuses. If you want to be a successful trader, others out there are already doing it and they are no different than you. If you're not a successful trader, that is your choice (or you're on the way to becoming successful). Hearing that will upset some people but actually, it's the most positive thing you could discover because it means the power to get what you want is entirely in your own hands. It's just how much do you want it?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Trump?! What the FUCK?!

This seems to be what most people are thinking this past couple of days. You can say that these are strange times in which we are living but in my opinion, there has never been anything but strange times! The whole world has been messed up for a very long time, certainly since humans have had the ability to record history, going back 5,000 years and who knows beyond that.  It would be nice to think there was a time when the human race lived in complete utopia (and some believe there was) but to think that this was any time in living memory or in recorded history, is a total fallacy.

Trump was elected with the slogan "Let's Make America Great Again" but when exactly was America great? Certainly not for the first 100 years, as no nation that allows slavery can be considered "great". The African-American Civil Rights movement didn't bring equal rights to all citizens until the late 1960s. So when was America truly great? The 1970s, when they destroyed Vietnam? Perhaps the 1980s when de-industrialisation took hold that was to eventually become probably the deciding factor (with the white working class in key swing "rust-belt" states demanding change) in Trump's "shocking" victory? It certainly is too recent to be the 2000s, though further destruction of Middle Eastern nations beginning in this period would make that a moot point anyway. And with mass shootings and police brutality and murder highlighted every passing month, it sure as hell ain't great now. But Trump would agree on that.

The United States has never been truly great. Only in theory and ideals. Even its claim to be the leading example of a democracy can only really be laughed at when you consider that more people voted for Hillary Clinton (winning the "popular vote") than the racist, homophobic, misogynist - yet here we are, with a man who once bragged about grabbing women by the "pussy" and who thinks it's fine to ban an entire sub-section of society from entering a country, as leader of the "free" world.
This is courtesy of an archaic electoral college voting system that makes absolutely no sense in the modern day. Even the phrase "the popular vote" is farcical. What does it even mean? Surely the whole point of true democracy is that the most popular vote should be taken as the true representation of what the nation wants? As it was with Brexit. Yet isn't with the UK's own ridiculous election system!

Not that I don't get why people voted for Trump. Of course, Trump's rhetoric will have attracted all the racist, homophobic, xenophobic scum, of that there's no doubt. But they didn't swing this election. It was that white working-class from the rust-belt that were decisive in the key swing states turning red when they had been blue for decades. When you have been neglected for decades and feel as though you have nothing to lose by going for something radical, why wouldn't you go for something that promised to shake up the status quo?

Clinton wouldn't have been my choice as leader, far from it. It's pretty obvious she's a very shady character and in my opinion, The Democrats lost this election  as much as Trump won it. If I was an American citizen (and thank god I'm not after all this!) I would have wanted Bernie Sanders in the hot seat but that was never going to happen because of the (also undemocratic) delegate voting system within the Democrat nomination process. And Sanders would have appealed to those disenfranchised rust-belt voters far more than Clinton and possibly Trump too. I saw an interview with a young woman who was asked who she was going to vote for. Her response was "I don't like Trump's comments about women but I love guns, so................" that just about says it all about Clinton's popularity! She is part of the problem, not only in the USA but all over Europe and the world: a rich, political elite who couldn't care less about the ordinary folks.

So it may seem as though I've turned into a cynical dooms-merchant in my time away from blogging. No sir, far from it! Quite the opposite. What I've come to realise is that this whole planet needs to take a step back and a deep breathe. We need to come together rather than divide ourselves over what are mostly superficial constructs, such as race, religion, nationality and political affiliation. At the end of the day, the vast majority of us, if not all of us, want the same thing - to be happy. And at its core essence than requires one thing: to love and be loved. Those who realise this, know that the changes required for this to manifest cannot come from a political party, or the economy, or even from the mass protesting we are now seeing from disgruntled Democrat voters. It can only come from within.

Every individual needs to look inside and seriously dissect themselves to find out what the hell they are thinking and doing and why! Real global change will only happen when enough people start to wake up to this fact and wake up to the reality of the world. Me? I've already done that. I used to be one of those angry political types, obsessed with the latest news to the point where it became entertainment to row over the latest disaster. Politics tends to bring out the worst in people in my opinion and those who let it dictate their mood, actions and ability to empathise with anyone of a different viewpoint, are as bad as the most myopic, tribal football fan.

So I refuse to feel downhearted about Trump's presidency. He's in: deal with it. Brexit has been voted for: deal with it. How do I do that? I control the only thing I know that I can definitely control in my favour - my own reaction. My own thoughts. My own actions. So even though I don't particularly like what's happened politically this year, it doesn't bother or affect me because I choose not to let it. It's that simple! Getting angry and fearful or hateful isn't going to change anything and it certainly isn't going to do me any good personally. The only thing to fear, is fear itself. It's a powerful force and once it takes hold, well, you get pretty much all the problems we now face globally.

Ultimately, I have the power to create the life I want, regardless of who makes the political decisions. That's why I chose to work my socks off until I became successful at trading. I made the choice to never give up and to keep trying no matter what obstacles were thrown in my path. Because I had the power within me to make it happen. Just as everyone else who has a broadband connection can do. No excuses. And you can make that same choice when you are actually trading. It's your choice to get angry when the trade turns against you. It's your choice to react negatively when a player doesn't do what you want them to. It's your choice to give up and say it's rigged or impossible to win long term or blame others for your failure.There's only one surefire way to be successful in life as well as trading - to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, search deep within and react positively. Works every time.

So I wish Trump good luck. I hope he does make America great. Not great again, just great. That means for everyone, not just those of a certain race or background. But it won't happen through pedaling more fear, scapegoating sections of society and stirring up hatred. He's already showing signs of being conciliatory. But it'll take a lot more than that to heal the wounds of division which he is in part responsible for.