Monday, January 09, 2017

Taking One Step Beyond Failure

When we pursue our greatest strengths and passions, success may not come easily, but it is not a fight.  When we're on the right path, we naturally pour ourselves into what we're doing and that supercharges our learning and development.  If you're in the right relationship, you don't spend endless hours "working" on your relationship.  If you're in the right career, you don't struggle to get work done.  No one has to force an artist to paint or a scientist to study.  No one has to prod an entrepreneur to get up in the morning and get to work.  When we pursue our greatest strengths and passions, we don't need a push: we are pulled toward our ideals.

So often, for this very reason, failure results from failing to pursue those strengths and passions.  We fail because we're traveling the wrong path.  We try to push ourselves to make things work out and that never achieves the motive force of passion's pull.  For years, I stayed in a romantic relationship that I thought I could make work out.  That made it difficult to eventually face the relationship's failure.  But it was that failure--and especially the pain of that failure--that taught me what I truly needed in a relationship.  Little did I know that just two years after that debacle I would find the person who would become my life partner and soul mate for now over 30 years.

Early in my career as a psychologist, I found myself in a dead end.  The work I most enjoyed was not the work that consumed most of my hours.  I finally confronted the failure of that dead end and pursued work I loved--at a 33% pay cut.  It was one of the best moves of my life.  I taught myself new approaches to counseling, which formed the foundation for my eventual work at a medical school and then with traders.  One step beyond failure laid my success.

And so it is with trading.  For years, I tried to make myself into a longer-term trader, hopeful of integrating my trading with my work as a psychologist.  I never blew up, but I came to the point when I realized, with cold clarity, that my trading was adding no value to my account or my life.  Only then did I gather myself, study my winning trades, ground myself in what I was good at, and craft the short-term methodology that remains my current bread and butter.

If you're failing at some part of your life, trying harder and doubling down on your present course is not necessarily the solution.  Often, there is purpose and meaning in failure.  It teaches us that we're traveling the wrong path, pursuing the wrong ends.  Once we embrace the failure of the old path, we're free to find success on a new one.  Failure can be the best of teachers, but only if we're willing to accept and learn from painful mistakes.

Further Reading:  Quotations on Success and Failure