Choke by Sian Beilock

Learn about a potential missing link to your performance issues. Why was it that what you did…did not work. A lesson in how not to lose it under stressful trading conditions. Some of our clients’ stories reflect the lessons from this book.

One of the most interesting aspects of the work we do with clients and subscribers is listening to their stories and experiences regarding what’s working and what’s not, and what worked in the past and what didn’t.

Probably the most common topic traders talk about is how they did or didn’t perform under pressure or didn’t see something when under pressure that they saw clearly after the fact.

Knowing from personal, client, and subscriber experiences that performing under pressure (real or perceived) is an issue of concern for many traders, I read Choke by Sian Beilock.

Sian Beilock is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago and focuses her work on brain science and performance.

Having read a number of books on performance, beginning with Peak Performance, back in the early 1980’s, it was interesting to see how the concepts of performance have evolved over the years.

For example, most of the earlier books on performance tended to offer tactics as the solution to achieving maximum performance.

Today, with credible contributions from individuals such as Ms. Beilock, there is more emphasis on the brain, the mind, and self-analysis of learning and understanding who we are, what we do, and why we do it. When we have that in mind, and only then, we can begin developing strategies, not tactics, to make informed course corrections.

My impressions of her book.

First, I really liked her straight-forward definition of ‘Choking under Pressure’. This is a quote from the book:

Choking under pressure is poor performance that occurs in response to the perceived stress of a situation-choking is sub-optimal performance-performing worse than expected given what you are capable of doing.”

Second, there is much a trader can gain from reading this book, such as:

How and why choking occurs. I found Ms. Beilock’s writing style very informative in that it provided scientific evidence coupled with real world experiences in a way that allowed the reading to flow yet expand my understanding of my own performance under pressure.

How ‘pairing’ skilled and less skilled individuals in a project or task can cause their collective results to exceed the sum of each individual’s performance.

How individuals who are proficient in solving problems demonstrate decreased performance ability when put under a time constraint.

How MRI’s and fMRI’s are able to illustrate, via brain imaging, what actually goes on inside our brain and while in different behavioral modes.

Then, based on what was learned, reframe the behaviors and practice the desired behavior to effect a lasting change in behavior.

How, through the numerous, real-life examples used, performance basically is a matter of choice, a conscious choice.

Next, Ms. Beilock offers several exercises, questions, checklists, and notes and references sources (14 pages in small print) for the reader’s consideration in taking their performance to the next level.

Bottomline, if you trade, I believe you have no option but to read and study this book.

Until next time . . .