When you are ready to succeed as a trader (The Good Fail)

BellaGeneral Comments


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SMB Capital (@smbcapital) on

The Good Fail is a signal you are ready to succeed as a trader.  It foretells significant progress is near.

What is The Good Fail?  Let me share a small win from my personal life to explain this important experience- The Good Fail.

One of the best additions to my weekly routine has been hiring and working with a trainer.  Twice a week I scamper through Central Park to my local gym on the UWS, after the close of trading, and work on my fitness.  Since I sit for hours each day and am past my playing prime (so says my son and feet, back, knees, and left shoulder), our focus is on flexibility and core strength.  For this, we do a ton of deadlifts.

Now prior to working with my trainer, I had never attempted a deadlift.  Ever.  I learned from the bottom up, like our new traders at the firm.  As I progressed with my form, we raised the weight, with careful attention to safety (also like we do with our developing traders).  My progression was slow, but discernible.

We moved to one-by-one deadlifts finding my max capability.  With improving form, we worked session by session, pushing my body outside my comfort zone with heavier weights.  I hit a ceiling.  I could not get past a certain weight.

My trainer and I huddle after each lift communicating what each other thought of the lift, like a caddie and golfer.  And to break through my ceiling, we agreed they keys were:

  • Get in a safe position
  • Pull with everything I have
  • The weight either comes up or doesn’t

I was still struggling to break my ceiling and feeling uncertain with my starting position.  But we kept working on it.

I got to the point where I was getting more comfortable with my starting position, feeling I was in a safe zone.  Feeling I would not hurt myself on any lift.  Feeling I was in a starting position where I could generate power.

Then came one game-changing lift. One session while in this safe position, I addressed my ceiling weight.  I got into a safe position.  I pulled with everything I had.  I lifted the damn bar nearly to success, but then suddenly dropped it to the floor.  It was too heavy.  I couldn’t complete the lift.

I collected my thoughts on the lift.  My trainer waited for my feedback so we could discuss the lift.  I paused to reflect on the lift, with him staring at me to share.  With a confident smile I announced, “That was a Good Fail.”  I felt great.

Wait what? Bella you didn’t succeed.  You dropped the damn weight to the floor.  But I had.  Here’s why:

  • I experienced the heaviness of my ceiling.
  • I dropped the bar to the ground and nothing bad happened.  My back didn’t hurt.  There were not pulls or tweaks anywhere in my body.
  • I earned the confidence that I could push my body to its extreme and nothing bad would happen.

It was one of my best lifts ever.  I could sense how important this was going to be for me to make progress.  I was going to be able to bust through my ceiling.  It was just a matter of time.

Fast forward two weeks and I secured a safe starting position over the bar.  I pulled with everything I had.  Man was it heavy. But I got the damn bar up for a successful lift.  I posted a new personal best. My trainer gave me a fist bump and I returned it along with a huge smile of accomplishment.

I went for a drink of water, basking in my achievement.  I was met by my trainer waiting to do his job.

“Is that your limit?” asked my trainer.

“No, I can do more,” I replied.

He added weight.  I secured a safe starting position over the bar.  I pulled with everything I had.  I could feel the veins in my neck straining.  It was so heavy.  I kept pulling.  If fact, It was so heavy I wondered if I was gonna pop a disc in my neck.  I kept pulling. “Come on Bella,” I said to myself.  I got the damn bar up for another successful lift- another personal best.

Gone was my ceiling.  It was time for another fist bump from my trainer accompanied with a huge smile.

I tell this story because this is the same way you can improve as a trader.  The Good Fail in a trade can spur huge improvement in your trading.  The Good Fail for a trader would look like this:

  • You take an A+ trade in your PlayBook.  A trade you save for your max risk.
  • You place max risk for this setup, that you have determined to be appropriate.  For us, this is a percentage of our daily max loss.  So for an A+ trade, we might risk 30-50 percent of our intraday max loss on a terrific trading opportunity.
  • You gain the experience of feeling the discomfort of taking your max risk in a trade.  Feeling what this is like is an experience that will help you grow as a trader.
  • The trade fails.
  • But nothing bad happens.  You are marked down some money.  Your trading account is still healthy.  The lights are on.  Your computer still works.  Stock prices are still flashing on your computer open for the next opportunity.

Having felt the experience of going for it, failing, and knowing that nothing bad will happen, you gain tremendous confidence that you can do this again.  And when you do, you are destined to place max risk and catch your biggest winning trade.  A trade that busts your PnL ceiling.  A new personal best for you as a trader.

And when you do, think of me waiting for you, with a fist pump, but then my question…….

“Is that your limit?” I will ask.  You know the answer.

And then from there you know you can raise your risk, go for it, and break a new personal best.  You are then a very powerful trader!

*no relevant positions