Five Tips for How To Trade Successfully
By Robert Prechter
Take it from the person who won the United States Trading Championship with profits of more than 440% in 1984 – there are five things that every successful trader needs to know how to do:
1. Have a method to trade.
2. Have the discipline to follow your method.
3. Get real trading experience, instead of only trading on paper.
4. Have the mental fortitude to accept the fact that losses are part of the game.
5. Have the mental fortitude to accept huge gains.
Bonus tip: Find a mentor.
That trader who won the championship in a record-breaking fashion is Robert Prechter, the founder and president of Elliott Wave International. Once you think you’ve mastered his 5 tips for how to trade successfully, then the best thing to do is to find a mentor. In this excerpt from the book, Prechter’s Perspective, Bob Prechter discusses how sitting at the elbow of a professional trader can make all the difference in learning the trade of trading.
(The following Q&A is excerpted from Prechter’s Perspective, revised 2004.)
Question: Has any specific trading experience decreased your trading success?
Bob Prechter: Yes. My first trade in 1973 was wildly successful, and I was hardly wrong in my first six years at it. Then I had a big trading loss in 1979, and that taught me more than the wins. The best way to develop an optimal state of mind for trading is to fail a few times first and understand why it happened. When you start, you’re better off speculating with small amounts of real money. Using larger amounts of money will bankrupt you early, which, while an excellent lesson, is rather painful. If you want to be a trader, it is good to start young. Then when you lose your first two bundles, you can gain some wisdom and rebound.
Q.: It sounds painful. Is there any way at least to reduce the hard knocks?
Bob Prechter: There is one shortcut to obtaining experience, and that is to find a mentor.
Q.: Did you have a mentor?
Bob Prechter: In 1979, I sat with a professional trader for about a year. The most important thing he taught me was to keep trades small relative to your capital. It reduces the emotional factor.
Q.: How would one select a mentor?
Bob Prechter: The best way to select one is to find a person who is doing exactly what you would like to do for a living, then get to know him well enough to ask if he will tutor you or at least let you watch while he works. Locate someone who has proved himself over the years to be a successful trader or investor, and go visit him. Listen to him. Sit down with him, if possible, for six months. Watch what he does. More important, watch what he doesn’t do. Finding a guy who knows what he is doing is the best lesson you could ever have. You will undoubtedly find that he is very friendly as well, since his runaway ego of yesteryear, which undoubtedly got him involved in the markets in the first place, has long since been humbled, matured by the experience of trading. He will usually welcome the opportunity to tell you what he knows.
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