Drawing Trading Inspiration from Improv Wisdom


It never ceases to amaze me how similar all forms of art are. The principles that work in dance apply just as powerfully to sculpture or software design. And what works onstage in improv clicks just as beautifully on the keyboard of your Mac. – Steven Pressfield

Last week, Steven Pressfield published a blog post called Principles of Improv that used some of the advice in a book called Improv Wisdom and applied it to writing.

He took three key ideas from the book and broke down how they can help writers overcome Resistance to actually create art. Like most everything else Pressfield writes about, we can directly apply his line of thinking to trading.

The first principle that Pressfield takes from the book is “say yes.” The idea is whatever your improv partner or writing muse throws at you, take it and run with it. Just go for it.

Over the course of your trading career, you can expect the market to throw all kinds of shit at you, both good and bad. Crazy things will happen out of nowhere. Regardless of the circumstances, if an opportunity for a trade suddenly appears, you have to be ready and able to pull the trigger.

The second principle that Pressfield covers is “don’t prepare, just show up.”

Most traders will obviously disagree with “don’t prepare” at first glance, but take a deeper look…¬†One of the fatal flaws that can derail a promising trader is over-analyzing everything about their approach.

I could have spent years backtesting many different versions of the QG Fund and never got around to actually trading it. But something pushed me to start trading it despite its imperfections. An imperfect approach is far better than none at all.

The final principle that Pressfield discusses is “start anywhere,” or as he describes it, “start before you’re ready.”

There is no substitute for the experience of live, real-time trading. Even if you are starting with a very small account, real trading will speed up your learning curve like nothing else can.

When you boil down each of these three points, they all have a similar core. They are all encouraging us to fight through the Resistance and improve at trading by gaining experience.

Photo Credit: Daniele Zanni via Compfight cc