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Personal Responsibility and Decision-Making

You find a near perfect Pristine Buy Setup, meeting all the requirements of your trading plan, and devise a plan to trade it. Now the stock is at your established entry price, you click on the buy button, and it’s done! You just bought yourself a position in XYZ. Whatever outcome is produced by this position should be considered your responsibility. Both a positive or negative one. But this isn’t always the case.

Our culture has suffered from a loss of the personal responsibility values that built it. These days, an individual walks into a McDonalds and after getting fat due to the excessive consumption of burgers, sues the company for making him fat. It’s the old “the devil made me do it” rationale. But we have to understand that every action, even the decision not to-do something, is made by the individual out of free will.

When an individual considers taking some course of action, he will compare the perceived positives and negatives of taking such action, and if the positives outweigh the negatives, he’ll proceed with it. This same rationale can be applied to trading. When you take a position, it should be because the probable positives of taking such a position outweigh the potential negatives (High odds). A proper trading plan should see to this. Novice traders, never seriously considering the negative potential of any trade, will base their decisions on a constant bias towards the positives. When your stop loss price is hit, you and only you are responsible for the outcome of your trade. It’s easy to blame specialists, market makers, or other dastardly subjects for your loss. But it was you in the first place that decided to buy/sell short that position. You should have considered all the probable positives and negatives of taking such a trade. Is this a NYSE stock? Learn about the execution conditions that exist in listed stocks before taking that trade. Is Bernanke speaking while you plan to hold on to your position? It’s your responsibility to know all possible implications.

At the end of the day, you take a position, and it either moves in your favor, or against you. If you’re right, you’ll make money; if wrong you’ll lose some. In either case, you and only you will be responsible for the outcome. Understanding this is a step towards professionalism.

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