A crucial observation on why ALL the traders on a trading team are improving



We are in our training at our prop trading firm in NYC.  It is time for our monthly trading reviews.

These are done by teams.  There is a Senior Trader who leads the reviews, as well as the Junior Traders on his team, and our Floor Manager, Dr. Steenbarger, and myself providing feedback.  Each trader, including and especially the Senior Trader, focuses on what they did well, what they can eliminate, and goals for the next month.

It is time for one team to go.  And this is not a team that is filled only with traders consistently succeeding, to provide context for the significance of this lesson.

The Senior Trader starts and outlines his very successful month.  The next trader also has had a month of significant improvement.  And then, the next trader also has made impressive progress.  And another had as well (not at the meeting).  Wait there is a clear pattern here.

This is NOT the way these monthly reviews tend to go.

I interject impressed and curious with the pattern I have detected and ask, “Why are you ALL making so much progress?”

One trader chimes in that he stopped doing the stupid stuff that led to losses and made more of his best trades.  Well that makes sense.

Another contributed that his team was doing an excellent job of communicating.  Okay.

The Senior Trader surmised, “well the market has been very good.” It has been. But from my seat not many prop firms have been crushing it.  In fact, one firm similar to ours had an awful month of January.  And there are two quality prop firms who had risk management challenges with their bigger traders short TSLA recently.  It was not true that most prop traders were killing it in this market.  I shared all of this with the team.

And then Dr. Steenbarger, waiting patiently, leaned forward, and asked if he could offer an observation.  The traders love when he does this.  Like we wouldn’t be interested in the feedback from the best trading coach we all know.  Like if Coach K offered advice on how to become a better basketball player, and you were a serious baller, you would demur.

Dr. Steenbarger said, “There is an old saying from Kentucky.  You are either a show horse or a work horse.”  Continuing he shared that he was observing that this team was full of work horses and was making the crucial difference.  Traders on this team were working on their craft with diligence and focus.

(For some ideas on what you can do to be a trading work horse, see 20 Habits that are essential to become a Highly Profitable Trader (assuming you do not want to fail).

We work at this game very hard at our firm.  Whatever lessons you learn from our YouTube channel or our blog require traders to sustain their effort to improve.  This team was doing what it takes to win.  This is what winners do.  This is what successful traders do and what developing traders must do.

So I ask: are you a show horse or a work horse?

*no relevant positions

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