Jared: Thanks for the opportunity. I’m Jared Tendler, Mental Game Coach and Author. My job is to help traders, investors, athletes, PGA Tour players, poker players, and other professionals remove the emotions that negatively affect decision making and performance. I have clients in 45 countries, including some of the best professionals in their fields. I’m also the former head of sports psychology for the esports organization Team Liquid, where I’ve been an integral part of the recent championships on many of their teams.
I came into the field from my own experience as an aspiring professional golfer. In college, I was three-time All-American and won nine tournaments, but kept choking on big national events. I couldn’t find answers from either sports or golf psychology, and as is common with many entrepreneurs, my career was born out of a belief that there must be a better way. I did a Masters in Counseling Psychology and spent 3,200 hours of supervised practice to license myself as a therapist, but never with the intention of becoming a therapist – instead I wanted to understand how to better solve performance problems in golf. I started working with golfers in 2005 and quickly built a roster that included PGA, LPGA, and Korn Ferry Tour players, as well as senior junior players.
My success there has since resulted in my work with poker players, dealers, pool players, athletes, lawyers and entrepreneurs.
QUESTION: Have you mastered personal or professional challenges that have enabled you to help others as a performance coach?
Jared: I didn’t fulfill my dream of becoming a professional golf player because I couldn’t withstand the pressure. For me, the natural choice of competition got me sorted out and that led me to come up with a system that can teach people to fix their weaknesses. Back then, if I had what I have now, I’m not saying I was on the PGA Tour, but I would have had a real chance. The experience of being a high level competitor gives me an important perspective when working with dealers. Even if I’m not a trader, I know what it takes to be successful and how to help people who haven’t made it to get over the hump and achieve their goals. It’s incredibly fulfilling.
QUESTION: Great, thanks for that. Next, let’s ask some questions from traders. Here’s the first: “I’m constantly diving into trades that I know I shouldn’t. I know it’s irrational, but I’ll keep doing it anyway. How can I stop? “
Jared: Many people think their mistakes are irrational or illogical, but the reality is that these things happen for predictable reasons that you may not yet understand. They actually make sense when you realize how much emotion is involved. Even though you may be aware of what to do right now, there is no stopping you. That’s because your emotions are so intense that they effectively paralyze the part of the brain that is responsible for higher-level decision making and execution. The key is to determine what those emotions are – fear, anger, greed, or some kind of trust problem, etc. Once you identify the emotions that are dazzling you, you have a chance to stop these mistakes before they happen.
QUESTION: “I hate it when other traders make money and I don’t. I see people take steps and post on Twitter about their massive returns, but I feel like I’m always three steps behind. What can I do to catch up? “
Jared: If you feel like you’re always chasing the market, take a closer look. Is it something technical, like a weakness in your strategy? Because there are many opportunities out there, and at any point in time there will be many traders making money and many traders losing money. Copying the trades others make is not a viable strategy.
From an emotional point of view, is this really based on the fear of missing out or losing something? Understanding what the fear is about will help you correct it. In some cases, FOMO is actually a form of perfectionism where you feel that making a mistake is unforgivable. Instead of trying to achieve perfection, focus on how to reliably make money and focus on this strategy.
QUESTION: “I hear what you say about perfectionism, but don’t you have to have high expectations to be successful?”
Jared: High expectations are an incredible source of motivation, so there is nothing inherently wrong with them. But the problem with perfectionism is that you expect results that you cannot guarantee, which can lead to a lot of self-criticism and negativity. This can ultimately damage your self-confidence and even lead to burnout. This is a very common problem in trading and many high level traders have encountered it. You need to recognize that your mental integrity is important and give yourself some space to develop your skills and progress gradually. Otherwise, it’s like trying to climb a mountain without a rope. You need to give yourself enough space to deal with setbacks.
QUESTION: “I am currently making a stock high and am now in a big drawdown. This seems to happen every time – I hit a new high and then I crashed. How can I stop this pattern? “
Jared: You are obviously able to perform really well, but beware of overconfidence. If you achieve some success, your parameters may loosen up a little and you take more risks. At first you might think, “It’s okay if I lose a little here,” but as losses accelerate it feels like you’ve stepped in quicksand and are desperately trying to get out – by over-negotiating, for example – you make the problem a lot worse.
At this point, you may be shocked by what is happening and completely lose your confidence. In order to regain your execution, you need to find some stability. The simple answer to this problem is to highlight your confidence and really learn how it is affecting your performance. Start small – go back to your bread and butter businesses and slowly build your bank balance and confidence again. Hone your skills so the next time you hit that climax you will be stronger and able to avoid the same mistakes. Then work on reducing overconfidence to prevent the cycle from repeating itself.
QUESTION: “I work hard to keep my emotions under control and have even developed a practice of meditation and mindfulness. I don’t feel like I’m emotionally volatile, but I still struggle to make the right trades. What am I doing wrong?”
Jared: Meditation is a tool to strengthen your mind, but it is not intended to suppress your emotions. You may feel very stoic, like you are in complete control, but your emotions are still at work beneath the surface. Getting back to this emotional undercurrent can be a challenge, especially if you’ve made an effort to control it. Try to implement some stricter parameters of risk in your trading while observing your own thoughts and reactions. Notice any tools that you habitually use to suppress emotions. For example, some traders become hyperlogical about their mistakes and missed opportunities to convince themselves that everything is fine. Try to be honest with yourself about what is going on below the surface.
QUESTION: “I feel like I’ve lost my focus lately. Can I do something to get back on track? “
Jared: If you lose focus, it may be because you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve. See the loss of focus as a signal to take a step back and review your goals. When you are really struggling with something – feeling annoyed, confused, etc. – writing can be a great tool to explore further.
QUESTION: “If I do what you suggest, can I solve my problems once and for all?”
Jared: My latest book, The Mental Game of Trading, is designed to help traders fundamentally correct some of their psychological problems. If you are diligent and stick to it consistently, the answer is yes, you can solve these problems. If you are caught up in the process of controlling your emotions, it is consuming too much of your mental and emotional resources. The real strength of this system is in fundamentally correcting these issues, which allows traders to free their minds to evolve with the market and discover new information in order to become a better trader.
QUESTION: Thanks for your time. How can our readers find out more or get in touch with you directly?
Jared: Thanks again for the opportunity. You can contact me through my website: www.jaredtendler.com, you can also download the first chapter of The Mental Game of Trading or get a free copy of my new ebook on intuition. You can also follow me on Twitter: @jaredtendler.
About the author
Jared Tendler, MS, LMHC, is a leading expert on how your mental game affects performance. Its client list spans 45 countries and includes esports athletes, financial dealers, some of the best poker players in the world, a senior pool player and several PGA Tour players.
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