New science indicates that we can improve performance by watching. I started thinking about this while daydreaming on a pool chair at the St. Regis overlooking Hanalei Bay, one of the ten most beautiful beaches. When I was younger I was an excellent passer in the sport of basketball. I could never understand how others couldn’t see the floor like I could. Subsequently I have learned that no one becomes great at anything without purposeful practice, and I never played a ton of pickup ball when I was a kid, so how did I develop this skill? And most importantly after we sort this out, what can this mean to our performance as traders?
When I was young I would tune into Boston Celtics games via a crappy UHF connection to a Connecticut channel that covered their action. I loved watching Larry Bird play. And he could really see the floor and pass. I can still hear C’s announcer Tommy Heinsohn: “Oh what a pass by Bird to the cutting DJ.” Was it possible that I developed this skill partly by watching him play?
Let’s explore some new science:
In the 1990s, some Italian scientists hooked up some wires to some monkeys and found that the same group of neurons would fire when the monkey made a certain motion AND when the monkeys watchedsomeone else make the same motion. Several hotshot neuroscientists such as V.S. Ramachandran speculated that these “mirror neurons” may be such a profound and important discovery that they will unlock the greatest mysteries of the human mind. Wow.
and then some more scientific findings….
Daniel Glaser asked some capoeira and ballet dancers to watch other ballet dancers and capoiera dancers while he hooked up some wires to their brains. He found that the dancers had substantial activity in the part of the brain that controlled dancing when watching the form of dance they performed. In other words, when ballet dancers watched other ballet dancers, their mirror neurons lit up – when they watched the capoiera dancers … not so much.
So if we are well versed in a craft and watch an expert you can get better just by watching that expert. What does this mean to us as traders?
1. When we watch trading tape of expert traders we can get better.
2. If we sit behind an experienced trader and watch their trades we can get better.
3. If we watch a screen share of an expert trader we can get better.
I shared this research with a great trading coach and he highlighted an essential point to emphasize: we must watch actively as opposed to passively. We must feel what it is like to make the trades like that trader. I needed to feel what it was like to make that same great pass that Bird had made. If we do this new science indicates that we can improve our trading performance by watching expert traders (see awesome video explaining here).
You can be better tomorrow than you are today!
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