The Benefits of Failure

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What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality – Plutarch

Let’s face the hard truth: when we gather with friends to socialize, when we are being interviewed for a new occupation, or more in general when we comunicate with others, we are easily driven to share our successes – and hide what we consider to be our struggles, our battles, our failures.

In this day & age, nowhere is this more evident than on social media: Twitter and Facebook. Social media is polarising our discourse more painfully than before:

  • it amplifies the personal and the extreme
  • it gives wings to lies
  • confirmation bias rules
  • preaching to the converted dominates
  • nuance vanishes

So whilst the “crowd” spends often many hours a day building an image of success around their persona, I am here today to talk to you about the hidden world of failure and the benefits it can offer. Morever, when the “crowd” is busy fluffing up their social media profiles in order to escape what they call “real life”, I am here to illustrate the crucial importance of imagination.

Real Beauty Does Not Request Attention

I find it quite inspiring to compare what I consider to be “proper practices” with what happens on social media, because it takes us back through time and demonstrates a key dynamic of crowds: human nature does not change. All through time, wizdom has been achieved by few that were often observers of reality and lived on the outskirts of society. This is because true personal achievments are, in my own experience, achieved through inner battles and not through public discourse.

And in order to fight inner battles, and unravel one’s own biases, limits and wrong beliefs, silence and solitude are required. And in today’s ever-active world full of simulus, it is becomming harder and harder to find spaces of stillness, that allow for inner reflection.

And such is the road that leads through failure. Failure is not “popular” by any measure. It’s not fun. It often entails fear, stress, depression. And when we are struggling, the fact that everyone else appear to be living the dream (as social media profiles hardly ever illustrate hardship) makes us feel somewhat humiliated.

However, it is only through these inner battles that we can then change our reality.

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life – J.K. Rowling

Stripping Away the Inessential

Let us now get practical. What exactly does failure mean, in trading? We all have different measures, but let me share my own measures, that I have been through as I scaled the learning curve:

  • Not being able to understand the game quickly –> doubts about my own intelligence
  • Not being able to provide a steady income as initially planned, and having to find a new job –> doubts about my own intelligence, social pressures, loss of faith in my own means
  • Not being able to win every trade –> having to admit mistakes

It truely is hard enough to go through this alone. But if you also have spectators – people who don’t understand what successful trading requires, and that have no capacity to empathize with your situation – then it becomes a true nightmare.

Notice also, how I lacked diversification in my life. I had set out to “conquer” the markets and I was immediately shot down. I had dedicated all my energy and the perception of own value, to my success in the markets. And for me, it was a very brutal awakening.

To cope with this, I had to strip away the inessential. I stopped pretending I was anything other than I was. I drastically reduced my living standards; I cut many social events and gatherings (because they were an additional psychological and financial pressure I did not need); I directed all my energy to the only work that really mattered to me: understanding the essence of financial market behaviour. I really think that had it not been for such a difficult start, I would not have found the determination to overcome obstacles and succeed.

In other words: my initial failure set me free, because my greatest fear (being unable to understand the markets at all, and having to go back to full time employment, not being able to do what I felt was right for me) had been realized and I was still very much alive & kicking. 

Inner Certainty

Financial markets will never give you a right/wrong message, because there is not only 1 way to play the game. So if you are looking for certain feedback from the markets, and you are trying to base your own security off of the markets reactions, you will be stuck in a never-ending spiral of uncertainties.

What failure does, is give us an inner security that cannot be shaken. Failure teaches us who we are. I discovered just how determined I can be. I discovered how resourceful I can be. I found out that there are successful market participants that are available to share their experience. Moreover, I had emerged from the black hole of doubt & despair stronger than before, and with a renewed faith in my own intelligence and my own capacity to adapt.

Failure is a test. To succeed, you need to gather all your resources and perseverance, without letting go of common sense and without going to extremes. What lies on the other side is a sense of security and certainty that will be useful in any aspect of life. You will know that whatever life throws at you, you will be able to overcome it.

The Importance of Imagination

If you do not have a roadmap, you will not know where to go. If you don’t have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, then you might not fight your way back from failure.

Humans have the capacity to imagine that which not yet is. Use this to your advantage, in a very savy way. Let me explain: when working as a sales trader & offering ideas to clients; while working as a broker and trying to steer clients away form poor trades; while attempting to trade my own capital; I was always guided by the same “feeling”. Although I had little proof of it, I was certain that I had the capacity to understand the inner workings of the market and learn how to read the markets in a timeless fashion. Many approaches vanish when market dynamics change; I would always be there and would not be fooled.

This was my inner guide. In all my research and investigation, I knew what my objective was. Even when I ventured off course, I knew I was off course and I knew where I wanted to be.

I truely believe that if you do not have a clear vision of where you want to go; if you cannot imagine yourself as successful, in the future, then it will be very difficult to get there. Because you will most likely adopt future visions/versions of success that are not truely your own.

Over to You

Now you may think that these “psychological” articles are of no practical use. There’s no talk of sexy indicators or price action candles. There’s no hint of money management or technique.

And yet, mental dexterity and a strong heart are the bedrock of my personal success. And I do believe that my own personal failures are the one true reason that allows me to help so many traders independently from their situation…I’ve possibly made every mistake in the book and have come back for more.

So again, here are the key actions that have helped me fight back from failure:

  • isolation (avoid peer pressure and concentrate/meditate)
  • admitting who you really are/strip away the social mask
  • find your strengths/identify and acknowledge your weaknesses
  • imagine/believe in your future goals despite what everyone else will say
  • have the humility to seek and accept help when you see no solution

Take these for yourself, and rebuild your inner confidence and inner certainties and I guarantee your life – not just your trading – will never be the same for the better.

About the Author

Justin Paolini is a Forex trader and member of the team at  www.fxrenew.com, a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial), or get FREE access to the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders. If you like his writing you can subscribe to the newsletter for free.

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