Trading Lessons from a Pick Pocket

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I had the pleasure of meeting Apollo Robbins last week in Boston. For those of you who don’t know him he is the deception specialist on the TV show “Brain Games” and heralded as the world’s greatest pick pocket. Not only can he steal your wallet and keys but he can literally remove your neck tie and take the glasses off your face, without you noticing, all during what appears to be a normal conversation. It’s really quite amazing. So naturally when I got to speak with him I started wondering about how he can do things like take off someone’s wrist watch without them noticing, and I bet you’re wondering too.

The reason he can pull off such feats has everything to do with how the mind works. If you’ve read my past articles you may remember that our minds delete, distort and generalize 99.999% of all the information out there. The brain does this because it has to. There’s so much information coming at us that if we consciously paid attention to just 5% of what’s going on without filtering the information, we would literally go crazy in a matter of moments. This gives us an extremely limited focus to work with, much more limited than we think, making where we put that focus is extremely important. This is especially true when you realize that your brain takes an extremely small portion of reality and then literally makes up and fills in the surrounding information in a manner that it supports what we believe to be true.

For example, as you read this text, you’re focusing on this print. Everything else you see in your field of vision is “made up” based on past experience of what you expect to be there. All sorts of things can be happening in the background but if you’re intently focusing on the print, you’ll either not notice those other things or use some sort of generalization of what you believe might be going on and make up what’s happening. And it works this way with all your senses as well as your thinking. Because of this, someone like Apollo can trick you by distracting your focus while at the same time working in the area of your senses that you’re not paying attention to. And the next thing you know, your wallet, watch and jacket are gone without you having a clue of what happened.

So what does this have to do with trading?

By just being aware that we have a limited focus and that we’re making up most of our reality, we can vastly improve our trading. You see, we have this trading plan that we were going to follow. We said we were going to focus on certain things and make certain moves when those things happened. That’s great! But the market has a way of distracting you just like Apollo. It hangs scary pictures and shiny objects in front of you to get your imagination of fear and greed going, hoping you’ll shift your focus. And if you let your focus shift to what you’re imagining, before you know it, your limited focus is no longer in the real world. You see dangers where they don’t exist and opportunities that aren’t there. When this happens the snowball effect kicks in and your imagination goes wild, whipping you up into a frenzy of poor decisions based off of imagination. Before you know it, the market has taken your money.

To avoid this, know what you need to focus on in advance of starting the trade and keep your focus there. Create a detailed plan and follow it. When the market tries to distract you with fake out moves, keep your head down and your focus on your plan.

To find out more about how to control your focus and see things from the proper perspective visit


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