The blame game: ego and attitude

How hard is it to accept blame? For many people, it is the hardest thing in the world, not least because with blame comes shame (or what we perceive as shame). Yet, without that recognition of your own contribution towards something that is seen as not good, the tendency is to look to others or other things that made this bad event happen. Shifting or not accepting blame can often become a defence mechanism in some individuals. If one does not accept blame, solutions will never involve any changes in personal behaviour.

Part of my weekend preparation for a new trading week is to listen in on a webinar given by a professional trader who describes himself as  an ‘Independent FX Professional, Trading Coach & Mentor’. In recent times, he has taken his audience to task–he refers to it as ‘ranting’–for the behaviour exhibited online. Some participants chose to use the webinar to get into criticisms of others participating in the open chat room session. This prompted a change of format, with open chat no longer available, but people could post comments and questions and only the host and sender could see them. The host could then respond in a manner that was bilateral or universal. The loss of the open chat was unfortunate, but I can understand the frustration of trying to offer something beneficial to a group, yet some could not see how to temper their participation and not exhibit intolerance. This is one of those instances where some individuals need to blame themselves for their lack of proper decorum and respect for others around them. This is a common oversight, unfortunately.

Yesterday, the FX mentor took to task those who could not accept that when things go wrong in trading there is no one or thing to blame but yourself. He added that it was important to get your mind into a position where you could succeed. Simple enough life lesson, in a sense. These are common comments from trading professionals, who utter them from the view-point of having fallen hard several times and known that it was over their own feet they stumbled. Perhaps prompted by his own rant, the mentor posted the following thought for the day this morning, quoting Martin Schwartz, a famous Wall Street trader:

“I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again, because it cannot be overemphasized: the most important change in my trading career occurred when I learned to DIVORCE MY EGO FROM THE TRADE. Trading is a psychological game. Most people think that they’re playing against the market, but the market doesn’t care. You’re really playing against yourself. You have to stop trying to will things to happen in order to prove that you’re right. Listen only to what the market is telling you now. Forget what you thought it was telling you five minutes ago. The sole objective of trading is not to prove you’re right, but to hear the cash register ring.”

It is worth repeating that trading makes you humble: if the market does not care about you, then get used to it–it treats you the same whether you are winning or losing, no matter by what amount. It’s worth noting that trading should also make you appreciative. You are only as good as your last gains, and they can be fleeting; but you are also only as bad as your last loss, and they too can be fleeting. Of course, you know that anything that gets repeated for a while becomes a habit, and better to hone good habits rather than bad ones. But, with success comes the need for care. Our egos make us feel bloated when we see gains and deflated when we see the losses. Yet, we should try to stay in a neutral attitude. It is not easy, but seeing where fault starts and end is a good way to try to get that attitude into shape.

The blame game is about ego. Lent is a good time to push the ego off in a boat, on a misty night and wish it well.

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About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Education, Financial markets, Human relationships, Religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The blame game: ego and attitude

  1. Annemarie says:

    Very well put, Dennis. Hard lessons abound this Lent. Maybe faith is believing they will prove worthwhile. Because they aren’t fun.

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