Friday, 18 November 2016

Fear of Muslims and Fear of Markets

Fear is the most destructive force on the planet. Fear creates war: fear of other nations, other governments, other races, other religions. Fear separates and divides humans: fear of something different, fear of the unknown. Fear prevents people from achieving their dreams: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of moving out of their comfort zone. Fear prevents people from trying new things and taking on new opportunities, being spontaneous: fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of losing face. Fear prevents people from becoming a good trader: fear of red screens, fear of being wrong, fear of not making enough to satisfy friends (or forumites!), fear of the market. It all boils down to this one emotion. Think what could be achieved without it. You see, most of what people are fearful of is nowhere near as scary in reality. There's nothing to fear but fear itself.

These days, so many people (particularly in the west) live in fear of Muslim extremists. But in reality, how many people have been killed by Muslim extremists outside of the Middle East? Obviously any number is bad but some act as if it's happening every week or month in their country, when it clearly isn't. Some people fear Muslims to such an extent that they would like to see a total ban on them entering their country! In the United States, more American civilians have been killed by gun-toting US nationals on mass killing sprees than by Muslim extremists on the whole planet put together! Many thousands more Muslims have been killed by Islamic extremists than any other group by race, religion or nationality. If anything, it's other Muslims who have most to be fearful of! So why are people in the western world so fearful?

Of course it's only natural to have some fear: these people can strike unexpectedly at any time. But the levels of fear have been ramped up to obscene levels by the media and governments. It's our job to stop and think more rationally about things. The chances of any of us being killed in such an attack are tiny. But what the fear does is more than just make us worry, it makes us behave negatively towards others. Now that's the real issue here: people building up hatred and division, demonising entire sections of society for often tenuous links to a tiny minority of nasty people. This is what is happening to the Muslim community. Yet it's so absurd when you just stop and think about it.

If Muslims were all so evil and wanted to destroy western civilisation, trust me, we'd all be dead by now! There are over 2 billion Muslims. If they really wanted us erased from existence, they could do it easily. People tend to forget about the millions of Muslims living outside of the Middle East. Indonesia, for example, which has the largest Muslim majority population in the world - all living relatively peacefully. When's the last time you heard Indonesia or Indonesians mentioned in regards to Islamic terrorism? India, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh have 4 of the 5 largest Muslim populations in the world, yet of that top 5, most people would only associate the other nation (Pakistan, 3rd largest) with being Islamic or having obvious links with terrorism. None of these countries are even in the Middle East!

But I believe this fear begins from a personal perspective. So many of us are living our lives in fear because we are afraid to go for what we really want. The dream job, the perfect partner, the life-changing trip abroad, the move to another town, the activity or hobby that fulfills us. So many of us are stuck in a rut, often disguised as a "comfort zone", which we want to get out of but fear of losing that relative comfort prevents us from doing so. So we are doomed to a life of mediocrity and regret because we won't take a risk. And pretty much all good things that happen in life, come from taking some sort of risk.

The same can be applied to trading. That fear of taking a risk, which is the only real way to be successful at trading, means that the vast majority will fail. I saw it time and time again with students in my academy. People want to make vast sums of money but aren't willing to invest the necessary time or take on large enough positions or prices, in order for that to happen. Instead, they try to scratch around for pennies, dipping their toe into the market for a matter of seconds before jumping out in fright and expect to be a millionaire in a matter of months. Or they wait to see which way the wind is blowing before jumping onto a steam-train which has already left the station and is about to judder to a halt, too late to earn anything significant. Or they won't put the hours in, thinking a couple of trades a week will give them the experience required. No successful trader ever got there without taking a risk: in deciding to give trading a try, giving up their free time, not giving up till they achieved it and in doing things differently to the majority of the market.

The best traders understand that risk is a necessary evil and that to take on risk, you can't be fearful. In fact, if you take on risk in the correct manner (with a strong risk-reward ratio in your favour and a clear exit strategy) then you have very little to fear in the first place. Nothing at all if you've made the crucial step of trading with money that you can afford to and ACCEPT that you might lose. It's only when you start to see losses as a fearful situation, rather than a necessary and unavoidable part of trading, that traders start to behave irrationally and make errors. It's not the situation that causes the problem  - it's the fear that an individual ASSIGNS to the situation. And that is a choice that every individual makes. You choose to assign fear or you can choose to assign something more neutral or even positive to the situation. It's ALWAYS a choice. Just as it's a choice to fear another race or religion or culture or nationality.

Once you understand that the power is totally within you to decide, you will be in an almost unstoppable position.  Many people don't understand this though. They believe that external factors (such as someone shouting at them or the market flipping the other way) are responsible for their emotional response. That they have no control over that response because something or someone else was to blame. "They made me angry". But the truth is only YOU can make yourself angry or fearful. Many don't want to be told this truth because it means they can't blame anyone else and they want to have excuses for why they can't do this or that. No one is at fault, the blame game helps no one. But there are no legitimate excuses. If you want to be a successful trader, others out there are already doing it and they are no different than you. If you're not a successful trader, that is your choice (or you're on the way to becoming successful). Hearing that will upset some people but actually, it's the most positive thing you could discover because it means the power to get what you want is entirely in your own hands. It's just how much do you want it?

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