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Trade Like a Frog
There is perhaps no more pessimistic and misanthropic people on earth than the Russians. Centuries of authoritarian rule, capricious corruption and a touch of oriental fatalism will do that to you. This is after all a country where the life expectancy of men has actually gone DOWN by the end of the 20th century. Yet even in that bleak landscape that is Mother Russia the human spirit is never fully extinguished.
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When I was a young boy in Moscow, my grandparents would always tell me the old Russian folklore story of the two frogs. Two frogs were dropped into two separate glasses of milk. One frog tried to get out, realized that the glass was too high and gave up and drowned. The other frog just kept on kicking his legs until he was able to churn the milk into butter. Once it became butter, the frog was able to find his footing and jump out of the glass to his freedom.
All my life I have always thought about the frog story and when things became difficult and almost hopeless I would always keep kicking no matter what hoping that I too would eventually find steady ground. And in the end I always did.
I’ve been thinking about the frog story a lot lately given the recent price action in the currency markets which could turn even Mother Teresa into a world class misanthrope. Pulverizing both longs and shorts with its seesaw price action the forex market can sometimes seem like a bad parody of a Kafka novel. You don’t know where you are. You don’t what you are doing and you don’t understand why bad things are happening to you. In the meantime, some ominous force is exercising its capricious cruelty on your trading account.
It can be a very unpleasant experience, but out of pain you can sometimes extract great value. Even if your systems are failing miserably, as long you keep thinking about them (sometimes even subconsciously) you WILL find better ideas that will improve your performance.
It is always amazing me that my best trading systems are developed not during the times of run up when I am complacent and lazy, but during drawdown when I am lean and hungry and my mind is sharp as blade.
I used to have a football coach who would always say “Saaaahn, you haaaavent lost til you quit.” I don’t think that quite true when it comes to trading. In trading you have to quit a lot of stupid ideas if you want to preserve your capital. But I do think that in trading you only really lose when you stop trying.