Saturday, 2 May 2015

Discomfort zone

16:23 Posted by The Thalesians (@thalesians) No comments

The phrase "leaving your comfort zone" is the most cliched of cliches (I tried to use clichiest - but my word processor refuses to acknowledge the existence of that word). Perhaps a more apt description, would be what follows from this, namely reaching a discomfort zone. Essentially any sort of change will result in leaving an area, where you know what you're doing to one, where you need to learn.

It's like the first time you try to ice skate. Your initial steps seem to be disconcerting, rather than enjoyable. The overwhelming urge is to be very cautious, hands grasping the handrail, seeing the other skaters zoom past. If anything an excess of caution and a reticence to take part, makes skating more difficult. The only way to master ice skating is to leave your comfort zone and allow yourself to move more freely. For me, the only way I really learnt how to ice skate, was on an ice skating rink, which had no hand rail, thus forcing me to learn!

In trading, you might learn something when you're in your "comfort zone" and your strategy is performing well. However, from experience, it's when everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong, that you really do learn. Of course, this doesn't mean you should aim to lose money! It's simply, that everyone will have a drawdown sooner or later in their career. It's how you react and learn from a bad patch that can make it such a valuable experience. Another time you learn in markets, is when you try a totally new strategy. For me, this happened, when I started researching the use of news data to trade markets. Continual research, even when you appear to be making money, is the best hedge against any sort of complacency.

Of course, whether or not you trade, the idea of leaving your comfort zone can come up very often during your professional career, in particular, when deciding whether to move on from your job. Hence, it's rarely something you can avoid. Rather than fearing it, it can be seen as an opportunity, albeit one where initially, you might feel that you're not quite going forward in the manner you intended it.

We've encountered it, in trying to expand our Thalesians finance talks, out of our base in London? Would the idea work elsewhere? Should we just stick to London, where we already had an audience for our talks? Luckily, we took the plunge (another cliche I usually prefer to avoid) and expanded to other cities. It was never easy at first, but slowly, we found our way.

We now have a successful series of talks running in New York and Budapest, albeit a lot of the credit for that needs to go to the local organisers (Harvey Stein/Matthew Dixon in NYC and Attila Agod in Budapest). The next step (to leave our comfort zone) is to start a series of talks in Prague and Frankfurt. We have our first talks in those cities in late May and early June respectively, where I'll be speaking about my new book Trading Thalesians, as well as giving a fun demo on intraday FX markets using Python (and I hope if you live in those cities you'll join us - register for those talks here). Hopefully, with your support they will be the first of many!

There are risks involved in leaving your comfort zone and sometimes it can be the wrong decision. But then again no risk, means no reward! It's not simply a matter of trading, but can apply to major decisions you make.

Like my writing? Have a look at my book Trading Thalesians - What the ancient world can teach us about trading today is on Palgrave Macmillan. You can order the book on Amazon. Drop me a message if you're interesting in me writing something for you or creating a systematic trading strategy for you! Please also come to our regular finance talks in London, New York and Budapest - join our group for more details here (Thalesians calendar below)

27 May - London - TBA
29 May - Prague - Trading Thalesians book talk / Interactive FX intraday demo - Saeed Amen / The Thalesians (tickets here)
03 Jun - Frankfurt - Trading Thalesians book talk / Python FX intraday demo - Saeed Amen / The Thalesians (tickets here)
22 Jun - London - TBA


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