The Traders Journal

Seven Attributes To Give You The Edge


HandWhat do Wayne Gretsky, Coach Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan and William O’Neil have in common?   They all share the same unique blend of personal attributes that have led to individual greatness in their careers.  I’m a huge sports fan, but not in the classic sense of religiously following team standings and statistics in the NBA, NFL or NHL.  Instead, I’ve been captivated by the personalities of the superstars in each sport.  In particular, I’ve tried to understand what specifically has made certain athletes and coaches excel beyond the norm. 

I’m an avid reader, and the fact is that some of the most insightful investor books I’ve read have nothing on the surface to do with trading.  I’ve learned a lot about trading greatness from the books and biographies of these sports superstars.  Interestingly, I’ve discovered that what it takes to excel in athletic competition is much like what it takes to excel in the markets.



Recently, I came across another similar fruitful avenue to explore.  I watched Robert Duvall’s 2011 movie Seven Days in Utopia about a championship golfer who had lost his mojo and how he got it back.  With pen and pad in hand (and a glass of 2008 Le’Ecole 41 Seven Hills cabernet at my side), I settled down to watch the movie and see what a trader could learn from a golfer. I was not disappointed as it reinforced so much about what great traders also must do to maintain their mojo. 


Here are the lessons I gleaned from the film – lessons that have been loosely paraphrased through the mindset of a trader.

  1. You don’t choose the stock market; it chooses you.  A little bit of early trading success can have a profound effect on a person’s soul.  If it does choose you, you’ll have to accept that your life and investing will become forever connected.
  2. Your methodology must provide an unshakeable foundation that you believe in totally, and you must have the conviction to trade based upon it.   If your belief is tentative or if you don’t have complete faith in your methodology, then a few bad trades will destabilize and erode your confidence.
  3. A calm mindset that can focus on the execution and not on the outcome is what produces profits.  It takes total emotional control.  You must maintain your balance, rhythm and patience.  You need all three to stay in the game.
  4. The markets are always conniving with ingenious techniques to get you to lose your patience, to get you frustrated or mad, to bait you to do the wrong thing when you know you shouldn’t.  A champion doesn’t allow the markets to get under his skin and take him out of his game.
  5. Like a great painting, all good trades start with a blank canvas.  Winning traders first paint the trade in their mind’s eye so that their emotional selves can reproduce it accurately with clarity and consistency, void of emotions as they play it out in the markets.
  6. The “here and now” is all that matters.  You can’t think about the last trade or the last shot or worry about the future.  You need to put on your “amnesia hat” in order to remain completely unfazed by what came before.  Only by doing so can you be totally absorbed in executing your present trade.
  7. Being prepared and having put in the work results in the bringing together of your intuition and confidence.  The two go hand in hand.  Extraordinary results can be expected when you are able to see it, feel it and trust it. 

So here you have your “edge” – seven personal attributes that can lead to investing greatness.  Don’t you just sense how you can now play golf with Tiger and trade alongside William O’Neil?!

Trade well; trade with discipline!
-- Gatis Roze


Gatis Roze
About the author: , MBA, CMT, is a veteran full-time stock market investor who has traded his own account since 1989 unburdened by the distraction of clients. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is a past president of the Technical Securities Analysts Association (TSAA), and is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT). After several successful entrepreneurial business ventures, Gatis retired in his early 40s to focus on investing in the financial markets. With consistent success as a stock market trader, he began teaching investments at the post-college level in 2000 and continues to do so today. Learn More
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