The art of trying less

by gbsmith4

Nancy and I were watching the Winter X Games this past weekend.  Ironic, because I do zero winter sports and really don’t know much about any of the events.  But I do know who Shaun White is, and have seen his brilliance on the half-pipe quite a few times.

What caught my ear, though, was that one competitor — Louie Vito — had decided to really REALLY focus on his training, foregoing alcohol, working on his fitness, etc. etc.

When I heard that, I knew he was doomed.  You see, Louie Vito was already a top contender, and it’s been my experience that when top contenders try to get to the next level by “outworking” the competition, something usually breaks.  And normally it’s their own success.

I saw the same thing with the Olympic Marathon trials (trust me, I’m a connoisseur of esoteric athletic events on TV): a bunch of top runners who decided that in order to move from say 10th, to the podium, were simply going to train more.  Inevitably, they did worse.

In fact, I noticed almost all the athletes who trained less, whether by design or something like injury, did outstanding.

What’s this all have to do with anything?  I think when you’re in the formative stages of development, throwing more and more effort at something is a good thing.

But…once you reach a stage of solid competence, less is usually more.  This is particularly true of trading.  You work, study and experiment until you come up with a satisfactory way to make consistent money. And then, in some vain attempt to be “the best trader ever” you decide to do MORE: more analysis, more trades, more complexity, until finally you succeed…in losing money.

So, I guess my point is this: it’s fine, of course, to try to be at the top of the heap.  But, once you get pretty good, it’s usually not MORE that will get you there.  Instead, it’s either “different” or even “less” that’s the key.