Your Limits May Be Greater Than You Think

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You know, I often hear people say their trading isn’t progressing. Many have been in the market for years, and wonder if they’ll ever reach the next level.

I remember grappling with the same issue early in my career. You may be in the same place now.

While the task at hand can seem overwhelming, don’t let it stop you. The key is to keep moving forward, one step at a time.

This week’s video is about recognising how far you’ve already come. The fact that you’re actively learning about trading puts you way ahead of many people.

Okay, so I’ve got a story to tell you. I was listening to ABC Radio a few years back. And the guest was former Test cricketer Justin Langer. He was talking about his cricketing career, and it was a tale of contrasts.

You see, the first half of his career saw him in and out of the team. He was continually falling short of the selectors’ expectations. His career was often on a knife’s edge. But the second half was radically different. Justin’s star was soaring. He went on to become one of the most successful opening batsmen of all time.

So how did he do it? Well, the centrepiece of Justin’s story is a book — a gift from a teammate. He says this began a whole new way of thinking. He would keep the book on his bedside table and read one of its short chapters each night.

So you’re probably wondering what book I’m referring to. Well, let me say it’s unusual. The name is Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. It was written back in 1979.

So what does martial arts have to do with cricket — or trading, for that matter?

Well, Zen in the Martial Arts isn’t about drills and technique. The focus is more on life and philosophy. It’s about creating a positive from a negative.

So, I went online after the interview, and sure enough, it was there. Amazon had it in stock for $12.95. The biggest expense was shipping!

Now, I want to tell you about one chapter. I believe it’s the single most important part of the book. I’ll often reflect on this section whenever my progress at something slows.

The chapter’s title is: “Even the Masters Have Masters”. It describes the process of building your expertise. I use this section to help put my own abilities into perspective.

The author describes his experience in the martial arts. He talks about ability as a never-ending staircase with frequent landings, or plateaus.

The rising stairs are easy to imagine. These represent the growth in a person’s skills. But we don’t always move upwards. The landings mark the periods when our progress stalls.

The author’s greatest frustration was being stuck on landings. These were discouraging times. He says that no matter how hard he’d try, there were long periods when he wouldn’t improve.

I know how this feels — I’m sure you do too. I’ve had many plateaus in my career. These were frustrating times. And I’d often wonder if I’d ever reach the next level.

But life is often how we frame it. The right perspective can make all the difference.

The author recalls his mentor’s way of dealing with the plateaus. When discouraged, he would go and watch the beginners train. This would remind him of how far he’d already come.

He would then sit and watch the black belts. Their relative mastery would inspire him. Seeing these people in action showed him how much better he could be.

Eventually, he was a black belt himself. But that wasn’t the top. His master was higher, and his master’s master was higher still. The potential to improve was endless.

I often think of the infinitely-rising staircase. A landing is no longer frustrating. It’s now an opportunity to take stock…a chance to see an ever-increasing number of landings below.

Try it yourself. You’ll probably find your progress is already an inspiration to others.

So that’s all for this week. If you’re watching this anywhere other than my website, then come over and have a look. You’ll find it at That’s where I have all the free stuff. I think you’ll like what you find.

So until next time, I’m Jason McIntosh, and let’s find some trends this week.

Meet Jason

I'm Jason McIntosh, the creator of Motion Trader. My career began in 1991 on the trading floor at Bankers Trust. Nowadays, I trade my own systems from home in Sydney. 
Motion Trader is for investors who value robust analysis, data driven entry and exit signals, commentary, and education. I use engineered algorithms to identify when to buy and sell ASX stocks. No biases or guesswork, just data driven signals.