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You Need To Know What You Don't Know

February 8, 2007

That headline may sound like a strange way to start a tutorial, but when it comes to something as complex as trading, it is important to acknowledge the preconceived notions you may have about trading and to understand that you probably have much to learn about this complex subject, especially if you intend to master what could be the most difficult undertaking you will ever attempt.

First and foremost, despite what you may have heard or read about trading being an easy, get-rich-quick scheme, the truth is that there are no trading secrets and no easy paths to quick success in trading markets. Beware of anyone who tries to tell (or sell) you such. It’s no coincidence that trading markets is similar to most other human endeavors: Hard work and experience are required to achieve notable success. By the same token, understanding the process of trading can be achieved with perseverance and a willingness to continue to learn.

Ironically, a major advantage of being an experienced trader is knowing what you don’t know about markets and trading. There are certain elements of trading that you may never know nor understand, like knowing for sure what a market is going to do in the future. Market analysis and trading is not a business of bold predictions but one of exploring market probabilities based upon market knowledge, price history, human behavior and trading experience.

Knowing that you don’t know exactly what a market will do actually gives you a trading edge because it means you probably will exercise more caution and think about and plan for what could happen if a trade turns against you. Successful traders know that some trades will turn against them and that they need to take steps to preserve capital to trade another day.

Anyone who plans to trade for a while absolutely must respect the markets. Most people do not like to be “wrong,” but only the market is 100 percent right. Traders who think they “know” exactly what a market will do are not showing the markets respect.

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