6 Things Picasso Taught Me About Trading
- Jason Pfaff
Like any great artist, Picasso not only gave us beautiful things to look at, he changed how we think.
As a trader, how you think about your day, and how you approach your trades mentally is probably the most important factor determining your success.
Through my study of folks in different arenas that have experienced fantastic success, and with my love of financial markets and trading, I have discovered six key lessons, all based on how we think, that we can take away from one of the greatest minds of the last century.
1) Be humble
“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” — Pablo Picasso
Picasso could be a very disciplined man, and had keen thoughts when it came to money.
He knew maximum success and enjoyment came from living and thinking in a certain mindset.
When we trade, it can benefit us to trade as if we have very limited and precious resources. Trades should be sized appropriately, and risk should be limited. No single trade should ever put all of our resources at risk.
Let’s say you are on a tear, and in a period of huge success.
Picasso’s advice? Trade like you are poor.
Consider the next trade with as much scrutiny as the first.
That type of mindset and discipline will support you as you seek sustainability over the long term as a trader.
2) Be curious
“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” — Pablo Picasso
As traders, we are staring at multiple screens all day every day. It is what we do and how we work.
But, stay mindful of the role of the computer. As Pablo says, it can only answer the questions you ask it.
The most important part of your day is the questions you ask, and where you direct your attention.
As you research positions and strategies, the questions you start with, and the information you seek will define your success.
Do you have a killer charting set up? A great service you use, or an awesome newsfeed?
That is great if you do, and those tools can be important.
But remember, you are the making the first move to gather answers from those tools.
A chart can only provide the information you have told it you want.
Make sure the questions you start each day with are sharp, incisive, and get to the heart of what you are considering trading.
3) Keep Your Mind Clear
“Everything you can imagine is real” — Pablo Picasso
Picasso reminds us that all great works, and in our case all great trades, are created twice. First in our own mind, and then in the action we take.
The quality of our trades will relate directly to the quality of our thinking about them ahead of time.
Taking time to keep your mind clear, and objectively learning what works and what might not have worked, is important.
Learning from mistakes and successes can set you a part as a trader. But to do that, you must keep your mind objective and your imagination active. You should consider each trade within the context of your entire experience, not just the last trade and whether it worked or not.
Too many traders might get too excited over a winning trade, and take a losing one too harshly. This thinking will then impact the next trade.
Consider each trade uniquely in your own mind, and simply use the lessons you have learned as a tool in their own right.
4) Keep it simple
Started as a training program by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2008, Apple University is an internal program that prepares staff for a career at Apple.
One key lesson taught during the program centers around Picasso’s legendary series, “The Bull.” It is used to explain the way of thinking that pervades the company.
“The Bull” is a series of lithographs that strips a drawing of a bull down to its simplest, and most fundamental core.
It represents a way of thinking.
Blocking out noise, removing anything not essential, and reflecting an idea in the simplest way possible was vital for Picasso, an important lesson for Apple employees, and something we can work at as traders.
There is so much noise in the market ecosystem.
Every day, I see traders with very complicated charts, systems, and ideas that only add to that noise in their own personal trading plan.
Let me be clear, I use some of the most complicated systems out there.
But I take ideas and work them to their simplest. Work your ideas down to their core.
Just like “The Bull”, it is ok to start with something more complex and multi layered.
But, we also want to remain aware that trading is a simple act.
When you are ready to execute, you should be able to cleanly articulate a trading idea in a sentence or two, and why it will work, and where the risk is that it might not work.
The simplicity involved is one of the reasons I love binary options. Binary choices are part of everyday life.
When we trade binary options, we are simply making a clear decision about whether or not a market can get to a certain level. When you can consider a strategy in those terms, I think you are far more able to keep things simple than with other, and far more complicated, products you can trade.
5) Work hard
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” — Pablo Picasso
Making money over the long term is hard work.
People who are successful love trading. For them, the money is nice, but its greatest value to a successful trader is as an indicator of success, as a way of keeping score.
To be a trader, you should enjoy trading, which will help you put in the time and work necessary to improve at your craft.
If you do love to trade, and enjoy the work, then you have found a rare combination. Not everyone finds that in life, and it is something to learn more about, nurture, and give your best to.
When you put in the time, you will find more and better ideas, you will learn about other traders who can share some of your struggles, and you will naturally gravitate towards learning more.
That learning creates speed towards whatever the goal you are working to is.
6) Not every Work Is a Masterpiece
You will never hear about or see most of Picasso’s paintings. He practiced, experimented, and took chances. Some were great, some weren’t.
As a trader, we must know, not every trade is going to work.
This is one reason I love the free and permanent demo account at Nadex. Look at different strategies, spend time trying out different facets of the platform, and learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
In the end, I am confident, with hard work, practice, and learning, you can make progress towards being the type of trader you desire to be.