A commitment to gather resources and expand your trading knowledge-base can augment your skills, help develop your values, impart important insights, and increase your ability to prioritize and synthesize all you’ve been learning.
To set the context for this article, we’ll begin by quoting definitions from Wikipedia for both learning and education as well as what we believe is the purpose of each:
Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behavior skills, values, and preferences for advancing our knowledge, insight, understanding and ability to prioritize, synthesize, and capitalize on different types of information. (For more information about different types of learning, be sure to look at the details offered on Wikipedia for learning as a starting point).
At ExceptionalTrader, we believe another perspective of learning’s purpose is to help us see more, hear more, feel more, sense more, be more and go further, faster.
Questions: What’s your definition of learning? What is your purpose for learning?
Education, in the largest sense, is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another. (Wikipedia).
Again, for another perspective, we believe the purpose of education is to facilitate and support the student’s processes to:
Collect, understand, and prioritize disparate sources and types of information irrespective of the source, and
Create methodologies that capitalize on their knowledge and advance their life’s journey.
Questions: What’s your definition of education? What do you believe is the purpose of education?
Learning and Education:
Whether we believe it or not, we are all perpetual students every day. We observe things happening—through our eyes. We sense things happening that are not obvious to others, based on our knowledge, understanding, and experiences. We question, confirm, expand, modify, change, and discard beliefs based on our interactions with others and events that transpire. In other words, we are all perpetual, dynamic, evolving, learning entities.
Assuming that this is true, we need to ask ourselves the question – “How much of what I learn is maximized for the betterment of myself and others?”
Before you stop reading, please don’t assume that my intention is to wax philosophically about learning and being a better person, because I’m not. I ask this question because if learning is a primary function in our lives—wouldn’t it be valuable to look into some resources that might help us go further and faster, with what we’re learning?
In deciding what to cover in writing this series I created several mind-maps and drafts, because I couldn’t figure out how to say all that I wanted to say without writing a book. But, as you can see, even that approach has resulted in a piece longer than usual.
As I attempt to be brief on this subject, my aim is to not write an essay as such but provide instead some of the resources I have found very helpful in advancing my own learning process. That being said, I hope you’ll find the following of value and choose to pursue a more in-depth study of them yourself.
Resource #1 – The Art of Learning
Josh Waitzkin, an eight-time National Chess Champion in his youth, was also the subject of the book Searching for Bobby Fischer. Josh also holds dozens of martial arts National and World Championship titles. His book The Art of Learning, is a must read for anyone interested in advancing their personal learning journey. Following is a quote from the introduction of his book that addresses contextually his concept of the art of learning and the process from beginner to expert using chess as the focus:
“A chess student must initially become immersed in the fundamentals in order to have any potential to reach a high level of skill. He or she will learn the principles of endgame, middlegame, and opening play. Initially one or two critical themes will be considered at once, but over time the intuition learns to integrate more and more principles into a sense of flow. Eventually the foundation is so deeply internalized that it is no longer consciously considered, but is lived. This process continuously cycles along as deeper layers of the art are soaked in”.
Questions: How solid are your market and trading fundamentals? Are they the right fundamentals for the way you currently trade, your current trading timeframe, and the market’s current behavior?
Resource #2 – Learning the KIPP way
In Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, he devotes an entire chapter to the KIPP Charter Schools. KIPP stands for ‘Knowledge is Power Program’ and was started in 1993 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin in one of Houston’s low-income neighborhoods. Their students ranked well below average with only 53% passing the state English and Math tests the previous year.
These schools, now nationwide, are based on a culture of strict discipline, courtesy, and respect. They were originally ‘cobbled’ together by Mike and Dave using the ‘Butch Cassidy’ approach to building their educational foundation – they ‘stole’ ideas, forms, processes, procedures, lesson plans from all of the best teachers they could to create their first school (located in one room inside of an operating public school).
Their story is great, and I encourage you to read more about KIPP, and Dan Coyle’s entire book, in order to appreciate both KIPP itself and the research that went into writing The Talent Code. The results – at the end of the first year – 90% of their students passed the state exams and by 1999, their students were scoring higher on standardized tests than any other public schools in their district. And, by 2008, 80% of the KIPP students went on to attend college.
How and why did this happen? The answer is that KIPP schools have defined and embraced their culture that includes longer school days (7:30AM to 5:00PM), classes every other Saturday, and shorter time-off and vacation periods, walking and talking protocols, conservation awareness (soap, toilet paper, water, etc.), debris pick-up, respectful attention, listening, and acknowledgement of others. Attention to EVERY detail is paramount and, above all, EVERYTHING IS EARNED!
Question: To what degree is your personal learning process defined in writing and adhered to without waiver, i.e., EARNED?
Resource #3 – Deliberate Practice:
“Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work”. So says Geoffrey Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large for Fortune Magazine and the author of Talent is Overrated Geoff goes on to say “Talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great”. The key is a commitment to deliberate practice.
In his book, Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin lists the following relevant findings directly applicable to top performers when compared with average performers:
They work harder.
They understand the importance of ‘nuances’.
They look further ahead.
They know more from seeing less.
They make detailed discrimination’s.
In addition, he states that deliberate practice helps performers acquire specific abilities needed to excel in a given field because they are committed to both knowing and remembering more – beyond than the average performer.
Geoff Colvin’s Tip Sheet for Perfect Practice:
Approach each critical task with an explicit goal of getting much better at it.
As you do a task, focus on what’s happening and why you do it the way you do.
After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources.
Make changes in your behavior as necessary.
Continually build mental models of your situation.
Enlarge the models to encompass more factors.
Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work.
Question: To what degree do you have a defined, written plan and a schedule for deliberate practice?
NOTE: An abstract of the original research related to the concept of Deliberate Practice by Anders Ericsson, et al, is available via the internet in several locations via Google Search. The Title of the article is “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.”
Resource #4 – Market Logic – Trading Expertise
In their books, Markets and Market Logic and Mind over Markets, Pete Steidlmayer and Jim Dalton talk about “Market Logic that, in its highest form, is the raw human instinct of the marketplace”.
More than just an understanding of the functions of the market, market logic is understanding the market participants and the market’s own behavior. It’s under- standing that the markets exist for a reason, and that there is a reason behind every change and every activity that takes place. For example, when price changes, it changes to satisfy the conditions of the marketplace.
Market logic is internalizing all of these things, but more importantly, market logic is understanding why.
This logic is a level of market understanding that can only evolve when you immerse yourself in the market itself. It is an understanding that trading is like a game in that it involves many other participants, each trying to win, and each employing their own strategy and ethics to the game. Those that do well are those who understand the behavioral characteristics of the other participants. The down- fall of many traders is that they fail to recognize the critical importance of market logic.
Questions: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being expert, where would you rate your own commitment level? Are you on target (according to your plan) to reach the status of expert trader?
Resource #5 – Trading and Learning from Our Trading:
Brett Steenbarger, through his books, blog (TraderFeed), and presentations, has emphasized that “expertise is the connection between knowing and doing!”
But knowing what? Everything? Or that which is important? For example, when it comes to trading, how important are planning and preparing, monitoring and re- capping a trading session to you? What about . . .
Does your preparation include understanding what has happened before—last year, last quarter, last month, last week, or yesterday? What’s your track record from previous session preparations? What worked and what didn’t?
Does it include the understanding of other markets (international and domestic) and inter-market relationships? Why?
Does it include as well the exploration of probable’s such as what the market might do to the long side, the short side, or in balancing? How about the outlining of scenarios as to where you will act or react to a market movement along with the risk/reward parameters for entering, adjusting or exiting a position?
The Trading Session:
What do you monitor and track as the market unfolds throughout the session? How does such tracking help you modify and refine your scenarios?
To what degree do you continuously ask yourself – What has just happened – positive / negative? What is now happening – positive / negative? What might happen – positive / negative? Why?
What tools do you use to facilitate recall and the design of current scenarios? To what degree are they helpful? How could they be more effective? Why?
Is your post-session process (journaling, calculating, replaying sessions, etc.) as meaningful as the preparation process? To what degree is it more or less helpful than the preparatory process? Why? How can it be improved?
Questions: How are such questions, and countless others, advancing your market understanding and self-understanding? How important are they to your learning process? Why?
Resource #6 – Learning Styles
The most talked about styles related to learning are:
While it would be simpler if our learning process was based on just one of these three styles, life is not that simple. Fact is, we all learn with a combination of all three to varying degrees. In order to facilitate our individual learning process, our task is to discover which one (or ones) is, for us, predominant. To verify the accuracy of our discovery, and then to build our individual learning pro- cess by capitalizing on the predominant trait or traits.
What’s your learning style? To discover yours or read more on the subject, go to:
As listed above, the three most commonly referenced are:
Visual learners – these individuals learn primarily through seeing. They tend to gravitate to books, illustrations, mind maps, outlines, printed words (newspaper, magazine, slides, charts, blogs, etc.).
Auditory learners – these individuals learn primarily through listening. They learn best through audio tapes, lectures, MP3 devices, discussions, debating is- sues, CD’s, talking things through, and listening to the thoughts, ideas, points and counter-points and opinions of others.
Kinesthetic learners – these individuals primarily learn through doing, touching, hands-on activities, exploring, taking things apart, building things, and drawing things. They are usually restless and easily distracted due to their quest to be constantly “doing something.”
NOTE: If this is a subject you would like to pursue, there are other concepts related to learning styles if this is a subject, we suggest starting with David Kolb’s work from the 1980’s and 1990’s.
His model is based on four processes:
Having an experience,
Reviewing the experience,
Concluding from the experience, and
Planning the next steps.
Question: What is your strongest learning style? What is your next strongest learning style? To what degree does your learning and de- liberate practice processes capitalize on your predominant style?
Until next time . . .