Trading Passion: Embracing Failure and Discovering Your True Path

BellaMike Bellafiore's (Bella's) Blogs10 Comments

Morning Bella,
I’ll try to keep this brief because I know you’re extremely busy. I just finished reading “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin along with “Mindest” by Carol Dewck and was interested to know what drives you and Steve to be successful traders and teachers? And where does your trading passion come from? Where did it start? Colvin talks about passion initially coming from an extrinsic factor but overtime it turns into an intrinsic motivator.

“What would cause you to do the enormous work necessary to be a top CEO, Wall Street Trader, jazz pianist, courtroom lawyer, or anything else? Would anything? The answers depend on your answers to two basic questions: What do you really want? And what do you really believe?” (pg. 204) That second question is easily answered by your mindset…do you have growth mindset? If so, then you believe with “deliberate practice” you can improve dramatically and achieve your goals. If you have a fixed mindest? Well we know where that leads.

I was watching your StockTwits videos and Steve mentioned that the whole concept of why you guys started SMB as a desk was because you can make more money working as a group sharing information and working together opposed to trading/working alone.


My passion today is to build training methods to shorten the learning curve of new traders, expand our training, and share what the market has taught me. This means building SMB Training, mentoring passionate trainees, and write/blog. There is a next great book I recommend  Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

When you are doing what you love then time stands still. I can wake up on a Saturday morning a few hours before my wife and start writing a blog. I can work for an hour on a short trading topic I want to share with the trading community and lose all track of time. When I was younger I could shoot baskets for hours outside in the winter and lose all track of time. When I am thinking of a new way to teach traders who are struggling I can get lost in this project for significant lengths of time. When I start to think about expanding our training to another product I get lost in my thoughts. None of this is work to me. There is a peace that overcomes me when I am so deep in thought. It is a flow. The deepest form of happiness that we can reach according to Professor Csikszentmihalyi.

The truth of the matter is that trading takes a lot of work. Staying till 7pm is hard to do every day. But Peter, one of our new trainees, does it. It is hard to write a detailed trading review after the close everyday. But Shark does it. It is hard to crunch your trading stats indepthly everyday. But GMan does it. Is this them working hard or just being lost in work that connects with something inside of them?

I had a conversation with a new trainee recently who emphatically claimed to really want to get better. I asked him for a plan of attack going forward on a specific adjustment we identified. He followed up with a two paragraph email. This new trader will never make it. This is short of the work necessary to succeed. It is not that this trainee is lazy or a bad person or not competitive. This is just not his thing. There is no flow for him when he does his trading work. He thinks he is working hard. But he isn’t. People who work hard think about their passion all the time because that is what they want to do.

Sometimes I think we make way too much over who fails as a trader. Do they really fail or just learn that trading is not their passion?  If I teach a new trader well this should be their exit.   They should knock on my door, sit down, and tell me they are leaving because they just do not love trading.

P.S. I started writing this blog an hour ago. I threw out my back yesterday and have been in tremendous pain for the past 36 hours. During this past hour, I cannot remember feeling the pain. I have been lost in this blog. I have been on my personal, pristine island of flow.

One Good Trade

10 Comments on “Trading Passion: Embracing Failure and Discovering Your True Path”

  1. First, wow thanks for an in depth response to my question. It’s incredible to see such passion for your craft (the multiplier effect in action)!  I know what you mean about the time thing and how it doesn’t feel like work.  I’m to the point where I set timers, bec if I don’t 2,3,4 hrs go by and I’ve lost track of time.  I always thought passion and talent were things you were born with, but how incredibly false that is.  Flow is next on my reading list, then Moneyball.  Thanks Bella 

  2. Csikszentmihalyi – pronounced “six-cent-mihaly”. Might help get into the flow.

  3. I think there’s a gray area. There are people with a natural interest in markets but not enough of a passion to sustain that work required to be a professional. They might be better off swing trading a retail account on the side with another job for income. Like a weekend golfer or rec league player. There are people who make money that way and it’s less pressure.

  4. I love this sentence, “Do they really fail or just learn that trading is not their passion? ”  It speaks volumes on the implications on what  “failure,” is. Failure is a mindset, but often seen as a fact.  Are you energized by the hard work your profession requires or at 5:00pm are you ready to escape into that flickering plasma screen?  It is often easier to protect the ego by blaming others, market conditions, etc and to be let go then to walk away with the knowledge that the job isn’t for you.  

Leave a Reply