The Inner Changemaker Podcast

I have been doing more interviews with entrepreneurs like this one I did with Jay Wong from The Inner Changemaker Podcast. We dive into what is the mental game needed to be successful in life. If you want to have a strong mental game you’ll want to listen in.

Chat with Traders

I had a chance to chat with Aaron Fifield on the “Chat with Traders” podcast. It’s a wide ranging interview that covers:

  • How I went from professional golfer to mental game poker coach, who helped my first client squash anger issues and make $600,000 in the space of four months.
  • The benefits of removing negative and excessive emotion from decision making, and the various exercises Jared uses with his clients to balance emotions.
  • Tips for how to; study your own emotional reactions, recognize flawed patterns which can be corrected, and separate tactical errors from mental game errors.
  • Jared fleshes out the seven types of “tilt” poker players and traders can experience, and when (in your career) you should begin working on psychology improvements.
  • Pointers for how to maintain concentration, focus, and high levels of alertness throughout the trading day—especially important for short-term day traders.

Mental Game Similarities Between Poker and Trading

brainI’m best known these days for my work helping world class poker players eliminate their mental game weaknesses. However, in recent years I have been working a lot more with financial traders to do the same thing. This was a natural addition to my portfolio. A lot of traders found my book The Mental Game of Poker very useful and they discovered it because a lot of traders play poker, and a lot of poker players have turned to trading.

The terminology may be different, but poker and trading are very similar fields. Not only do the same critical skillsets exist for both, the same mental game issues impact both sets of participants. Continue reading

Golfer Has More Gamble Than You Think

Golf club and ball with a Ten Dollar Bill betFor those of you that don’t know, I started as a mental game coach for golfers after using counselling psychology to fix my own mental game issues as a professional golfer. I then moved over to poker where I found a lot of success helping world-class professional poker players overcome their own mental weaknesses. One of the biggest issues poker players (and traders) have to deal with is variance. No matter how skilfully they execute a decision, they can still lose money because of bad luck. However, over the long term, if they are able to continue making good decisions, they will be rewarded.

Many people might think this volatility is just pertinent in fields where uncertainty is rife like poker and trading, but that is not the case. The fact is that there is a great deal of variance in golf, and I have no doubt almost every other sport. However, few people understand or even acknowledge this variance, which leads to mental game issues that hold their progress back.

I’m not talking about misfortune either. While it is certainly true that conditions like weather can play a crucial role in the outcome of a match, that is something we have little control over. What I am talking about is the variation that exists within your own skill set. The fact of the matter is that even when all the conditions remain the same, you will hit a shot differently every time.  Continue reading

The Mental Game of Trading

brainI wrote a blog recently debunking the idea that golf is 90% mental, and I want to expand that to where I believe the mental game fits in to your performance as a trader. Whether you are a golfer or a trader, your job is to execute. Whether that’s hitting the right shot, or making the right decision at the right time. The only difference is that a golfer uses their body to execute their strategy and a trader uses their mind.

So the question every trader has to answer is simple: what do I need to learn, what are the skills I need to train, and how can I best prepare myself to consistently execute the right shot or the right decision? First and foremost you need trading skill. The mental game can really only help you to become a better trader once you have a strategy based on your knowledge reading charts, technical analysis, and other skills.

In my last blog I said that if golf was 90% mental, then the Dali Lama would be an amazing golfer, but he isn’t. The mind is only so powerful. I say this, so you now I’m not one of those ‘gurus’ blowing smoke up your ass claiming that a positive mental attitude is what you need to be a successful trader. Bullshit. You need to know what the hell you’re doing. Without a trading strategy based on a foundation of knowledge, there is no way to prove your results aren’t just dumb luck. Continue reading

Golf is 90% Mental?

dalai_lamaThere is a popular adage in golf, and in many other sports, that the game is “90% mental.” That what separates elite performers from the also-rans is having a strong determination, grit, confidence and other mental game qualities. When you witness elite performers under extreme pressure it can be easy to believe this assertion, and as a mental game coach, I should probably let you believe it. But answer me this:

If the mind was that important to the game, wouldn’t the Dalai Lama be an incredible golfer?

He’s actually quite bad. There’s no doubt the mental game is important, but it isn’t 90% of the game.

Besides if golf is 90% mental and 10% physical, how can we explain the following? Continue reading

The Negatives of Positive Thinking

stock-footage-happy-smiley-face-icon-in-a-negative-majority-like-a-symbol-of-happiness-success-good-mood-andA lot of people believe that the primary job of a performance coach or sports psychologist is to help you think more positively. That the biggest single catalyst for achieving more or breaking out of a slump is to believe that you can, and that good things will happen to those that can trick themselves into thinking this way. I believe this is why some people have a critical view of self help material in general, because they don’t agree that attitude alone is enough to thrive.

As it turns out, research has proven that for some people a positive attitude is actually detrimental to performance. That’s correct. Contrary to what many in my field believe, some people hurt their performance by trying to be optimistic.

The problem with over reliance on positive thinking is that you are whitewashing over any genuine negatives that exist. People have a problem with negativity and acknowledging weaknesses, especially in America where self belief is everything. There is actually a real benefit to pessimism and understanding that negatives are real, the problem is that people treat negatives as permanent rather than something that can be improved, which is why they try and discount negativity all together.

If you have real weaknesses in your skillset, just being optimistic won’t solve them. It may help you focus, but if you are not addressing the negatives, optimism is, in fact, delusion.

“If you don’t address the negatives, optimism is, in fact, delusion” Continue reading

Understanding how emotion affects performance

Charles-Barkley-1aAre you a better golfer when you are angry? Do you make terrible trading decisions when you are bored? Are you more productive when you are happy, or sad? Why do you choke under pressure when other people thrive on it?

As a performance coach, my main job is usually to help people overcome emotional barriers that are preventing them from executing their skills to the best of their ability. In poker I help people overcome tilt, which is when anger overwhelms their decision-making. In golf I help people eliminate the ‘yips’, which stops them performing under pressure. In trading I help professionals avoid forcing bad trades, which happens when they become undisciplined. I also help elite athletes and professionals overcome all sorts of issues including fear of failure, low motivation and decreased focus.

These issues all sound varied and independent of each other. However, at their core, all mental game issues affect performance in the same way, and therefore can be fixed in the same way. It all comes down to how I view emotion and how it relates to performance. Many sports psychologists treat emotion like it is the enemy, something that should be numbed. The problem with this attitude is that while you may succeed in the short term suppressing negative emotions, you will also suppress the positive emotions that help you perform in the zone.

Until you embrace emotions, you will never perform at your peak.  Continue reading

Inchworm learning

Have you ever wondered why sometimes you can perform at a very high level, but other times you make mistakes a complete newbie would make? Why does this happen?

“Inchworm” is a concept with a strange name that helps make the process of improving over time easier to understand. Inchworm isn’t a revolutionary new idea; it’s just an observation of how you improve over time and something you likely never thought about previously. Understanding this concept more clearly will help you to:

  • Become more efficient in your approach to improving.
  • Make consistent improvement while avoiding common pitfalls.
  • Avoid fighting a reality you can’t change.
  • Know where a skill is in the learning process.
  • Handle the natural ups and downs of learning better.

There will be times when it feels like you have taken a huge step backward, not progressed at all, or have fallen back into old habits. The next time this happens, come back to this blog post. Continue reading