Mindfulness doesn't work... at least for a whole bunch of traders it doesn't, here’s why.

Firstly let me lay out my skills, I've run a mindfulness based practice for 40 years in parallel to being a broker/trader in nasty aggressive markets. But I didn’t follow the norm of going on a course, or reading a self help book, I followed an internal instinct and then committed to change.

I had discovered a self created natural state of enhanced attention that drove high performance.

Quite recently, and almost certainly due to the pandemic throwing up fresh challenges, several of my coaching and mentoring clients, all traders i.e. hedge fund folk, commodity traders, markets CEO’s had the same problem:-

They had been seeking a solution to help manage their mental state and develop their trader edge.
They sought something that calmed their system and gave them clarity and resilience to cope under the stress of trading markets, something that would build mental edge to drive enhanced trader performance.

But they were frustrated, I’d even say stressed, that despite reading a libraries worth of relevant books, listening to mindfulness based Apps and watching hours of YouTube.. none of them found the solution they desperately needed. The techniques they were trying were ineffective. The reality was that through trying to find a solution they had become more stressed. Trading was suffering.

It became clear that the reason many could not find the solution is that “off the shelf” doesn't work. They are well-intentioned, but are devoid or context and personal perspective. The starting point for what is a very self-based approach is “self” and cannot be based upon presumptions and a one size fits all solution.

We all have different stories, we are all unique and we are all more complex than we realise. Even more complex when this is set against the backdrop of Markets. So once I had got under their skin, found their quirks and understood their trading and life journey I very quickly could solve, in market terms, their issues and provide them with an effective path to follow.

For example, their challenges were similar in nature and reflected difficulty in moving on from a market or personal shock, re-living the past was being translated into trader block. Consequently, they were producing and repeating failed trade processes due to “too much going on” mentally and the related under performing alpha, in addition, they also paying very little attention to their core system. Dehydration, poor sleep, loss of social connection, lack of fresh air were common to them all.

In short they were unconsciously self-sabotaging. Trading had taken a back seat, purpose was lost, and it also arose that they had lost the context of time and often were sucked into the market, often stuck in their silo and spat out some 13 hours later. Subsequently, home life was under pressure as relationships with partner and kids got strained and thus trading optimally was just not possible, in fact every facet of their life had become a challenge.

My approach starts with getting them to modify behaviour, starting with ensuring hydration was being maintained as a number 1 hack. After this, it was to use micro-breaks to proactively step back following a market shock and take a short pause. Some tuned into their breath, others tuned into music – even briefly rocking out, others began tuning into the motion of walking or running and associating the breath with doing something physical.

The game-changer was to commit to getting in touch with a natural environment whenever you can.. and when there, just be there and be curious to what you see, what you hear, what you smell — fully immersed in reality. The natural environment creates a lifeboat, a safe haven that you can visit to regain an optimal trader state.

By starting the day connecting to “self” in a natural environment and doing the same at the end of the day will put a boundary around the trading day. And that’s important, your mental state and trader edge will be able to reset itself in a natural state which will help the clarity required for the trade discovery but also the different, calmer mindset required to wind down for the evening and have meaningful time for family and friends.

Your mental state will also “show up” for the trading day ahead if it understands the difference between ‘life’ and ‘work’. It is like having your own opening bell and closing bell for whatever period defines your trading day.

Your effectiveness as a trader today will be heavily determined by how you managed your mental state yesterday.

As you see, none of this involved an App, nor anything that might be considered fluffy, nor did it require attending a typical course that’s more often used for clinical outcomes. It just required commitment in doing something that had no stigma and is readily available to us all – connecting in high definition to the world around us.

Creating a starting point that is focussed on “self” and understanding the relationship we have to the internal and external world that we operate in becomes a very powerful, effective method of building your trader edge.

We wish you luck.

This is just a taste of what is possible. If you are interested in developing this side of your trading, please check out my AlphaMind 'Trading Peak Performance' Programme click here.

You can also view my recent interviews as guest on these two podcasts:
🎧Darren Lee's 'Kick-Off Sessions podcast: Mark Randall – The Emotionally Intelligent Trader, Risk Management & The Fundamentals of Trading
Anthoney Crudele's 'Futures Radio' Podcast: Developing An Alpha Mind – Mark Randall

Also check out our AlphaMind Trader Performance Coaching programme, and other Executive Coaching services.