Brett Steenbarger is known as “the trader’s shrink.” By traders, of course, I’m referring to people who seek to make money by buying low and selling high. You can see the principle at work most any night while watching such cable TV shows as “Pawn Stars”, “American Pickers” and “Storage Wars.”

Dr. Steenbarger is more interested in the people who trade professionally in the financial markets—traders in hedge fund, investment bank or proprietary trading group settings. And the assignment he’s given himself over the past two decades is helping professional traders recognize when their own mind can be their worst obstacle.

This can be a reality for anyone involved in an occupational or professional pursuit—competitive sports, emergency services, medicine, management, therapy, to name a few—where “hidden” psychological forces seem to interfere with our ability to make successful, positive LEAPS! and leave us wondering, in retrospect, “What was I thinking?”

If you want to know what Steenbarger, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, has been telling his trading clients over the years, his website provides numerous articles. There is his book, The Psychology of Trading, and his blog (no longer active but filled with useful psychological advice) is here.

After years of helping traders improve their LEAP! outcomes by reducing self-sabotage, Steenbarger has become a huge fan of getting right to the heart of the problem. He coaches his clients in techniques for determining how their mind is undercutting them. Once they know, he advises get mad, and after that, get even. In his words, “The quickest way to change a pattern of thought or behavior is to make it your enemy.”

A “get even” technique that has made a real difference in the quality of his own trading outcomes, he says, is tracking the costs. It’s something any LEAP!er can do. Put a set of cue cards up on the wall by your computer, each containing a negative way that you know your mind is robbing you of positive LEAP! results. In addition, estimate what this particular thinking pattern has cost you. And the next time you feel the impulse to do it again, ask yourself if you want to add to the total and nix any thoughts of doing so.

Bookmark and Share