Forex Trading Tips: Excuses, Excuses

By Boris Schlossberg • February 27th, 2010
Boris Schlossberg

Excuses, Excuses

Last week when I was in the UK, I saw a BBC1 documentary that literally made my eyes pop out. The subject of the show was foreign immigration. Apparently, UK is one of the few EU countries (along with Sweden) that allows complete freedom of access to its labor markets and as result has been flooded with immigrant labor from Eastern Europe especially in to the region called East Anglia.

The greatest complaint against the immigrants from the indigenous population was the fact that they were taking jobs away from proper Englishmen. So BBC decided to run an experiment. They convinced several business owners in the area to hire English labor to temporarily fill some of these jobs. The jobs at issue were relatively low skilled – picking asparagus from a farm, packing potatoes at a factory, working in an Indian restaurant as busboy and a cook, etc.


BBC then went out and recruited several candidates from the vast pool of English on the dole in the area. Mind you, to be on welfare in UK is no glorious way to live. These people received no more than $75-$100 per week (about 60 pounds) to live, hardly a king’s ransom, and one that would make most people eager to find a better source of income.


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The chosen subjects were two unemployed day laborers who were extremely bitter about their situation, a 24 year old boy who never had a job in his life and spent all of his time on the Internet while he continue to live in his parents basement, another young man who lived with his mother the florist, a trained chef and his bartender girlfriend, and another 19 year old boy and his 40 year uncle who spent their whole day pumping iron at a local gym. All were eager for work and all seemed to embrace their pre-job training.

The results were as astonishing as they were depressing. Half an hour before his official start, the 24 year old internet slacker texted that he wasn’t feeling well and would not come in. So did the chef/bartender couple, as did the 40 year old weight lifter. All of these people simply left their prospective employers in a lurch.

The florist’s son did show up to pick asparagus, a job that simply entails walking along a line of stalks and cutting them into a basket. After two hours in the sun, however, the dough shaped boy clearly lost his enthusiasm and simply began to wander off the line, forcing other immigrant workers to clean up after him.

The most pathetic storyline however, involved the two unemployed laborers who spend the whole show carping about the unfairness of having their jobs taken away by foreign labor. However, both showed up to their orientation half an hour late and then proceeded to complain about every aspect of the job to anyone who would listen. They were put on a factory line where their job involved packing 12 potatoes to the bag – a task they failed at miserably (they packed only 10) resulting in the halt of the whole production process and delay of more than half an hour on the line.

Yet perhaps worst of all, in their post job interviews they were hardly apologetic, claiming that the factory increased the speed of the production line that day making their job much more difficult. These were men who had laid pipe in their former employment, yet here they were stating that packing potatoes was the hardest work they’ve ever done.

I want to be clear about something. In this day of record unemployment and massive human suffering I do not under any conditions mean to imply that the BBC experiment is indicative of all British labor. In fact most people I met in London were much harder workers and more able than our staff back home. Most people who are unemployed are clearly unfortunate and do not deserve their fate. Yet watching the BBC documentary I couldn’t help but be astounded by our human capacity to rationalize away our behavior.

As traders we never seem to run out of excuses and rarely take responsibility for our own mistakes. Showing up to work on time is a given we never question in our professional life. Yet how many of us attach a stop order to every trade with the same level of consistency? Messing up a task at work is something most of us would acknowledge and attempt to correct. Yet how many of us admit that we were wrong on the trade? Instead we pull out a litany of excuses – I was early, I was late, the dealer stopped me out and so on, and so on, and so on.

The BBC documentary was an eye opening experience for me. It made me realize that very often in life we have no one to blame but ourselves for the mistakes we make. And although that thought is hardly comforting, it is refreshing, because it allows us to take true stock of our situation and hopefully take better control of our destiny in both life and trading.

Comments

Good read Boris, thinking about the prior situation of the people who BBC documented. I cant see 40-50 years ago a 24yr. old who would be sleeping, sitting at home w/his parents say watching tv, would a 40yr old man be spending all his time pumping iron instead of working? These people are not really in need of the money yet how else could they have reached this stage in their life? When they are desperate then they will work and not make excuses until then people will act as you saw on the documentary. They are not really motivated yet.
This article brings to mind something similar occurring here in the states and as a software developer I see when US companies hire international new graduates to work. These new hires typically with higher degrees than their US counterparts in the same position are extremely more motivated to impress, do a great job and for less salary. The main reason imo is they are working for their US citizenship and they come from a place where having a good job is a measure of their success. Most of the ones I know also don’t have alot money when they get here and the reality is pretty much if they don’t make it here then they have to go back home where the competition is greater and the standard of living is not as rewarding. So they will work harder and stay motivated years longer than a new US grad in the same position. It is actually difficult for US grads to push themselves with the same sense of “desperation” and need of a job. I think this is similar to what is going on with the Brits, so we will complain as well but for the business owner it is all about the bottom line their profits and ability to compete.

 

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