The Mental Game

This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures

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Humans totally underestimate the mental game.  How do you mentally prepare yourself for success?  Not everyone gets exposure to the mentorship that helps them learn how to mentally prepare for success.  I was lucky.   I was the son of a coach, and I was involved with athletics during my entire childhood.  Athletics with the right coach can teach you the skills you need to mentally prepare.  MTXE is one of those lessons.

I am shocked at the similarities between startup founders mental health, athletes, and frankly pit traders.

There is a linear line between them.  Especially when it comes to failure.  When a startup fails, the founder loses a sense of identity.  They can’t go to work there anymore.  When an athletic or trading career ends, it’s the same.  I went through it twice.

It’s totally painful.  God awful painful.

It tears your guts out.  You can’t sleep. live in fear.

At least when I was an athlete, I could fall back on college.  I had a degree and I could get a job.   I remember in a job interview a person asked me, “So, there are no cheerleaders or bands to wake you up in the morning.  Why are you going to get out of bed?”

I can remember days when my trading career ended that I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I had no purpose, no ritual.  Every action seemed self defeating.  It was painful to even go to the grocery store and spend money.

There are remedies for this.  Build a ritual for yourself and follow it.  Be grateful and not envious.  Believe in a higher power than yourself.  It will be a terrific struggle and you will have to conquer demons that you might not know existed combined with the outside pressures of life that exert themselves.  You will have to learn things like MTXE, ways to build confidence in yourself, and figure out how to take the baby steps to build yourself back up.

I know.  Since 2009, my life has been a tremendous struggle.  Some I can talk about publicly, and some I can’t.  I’d prefer to keep it private.  With a lot of support from my wife and kids, I struggled through.  To be honest, sometimes I am not sure I made it yet.   Combine that with age and potential retirement looming and you see another struggle coming.

Many friends of mine have gotten divorced since trading ended.  Or they are broke.  Or, they killed themselves.  I am not exaggerating when I say I know of 15-20 traders that have killed themselves.  Some do it with drugs.  Others drinking.  Others with a weapon.  We were put of of a job by technology and we couldn’t keep up.  The return to the real world is earth shattering.

When the money runs out and you are naked in the street, paralyzed with fear, people don’t want to be around you.

Pro and amateur athletes have the same thing happen.  They go to a locker room, put the uniform on.  What happens when they can’t anymore?  Traders used to put a uniform on too.  Our trading jackets.  It was a club.  We were members. 80% failure rate so if you were successful there was a bit of cockiness that went with it.

Doesn’t that sound like a startup?

I have an old friend named Pete Temple.  He is a doctor of psychology.  He wrote a book called “The Mental Game”.  It comes out on March 12.  If you are interested in this stuff, you should buy it.  If you are a startup founder, you should definitely buy it.

A bit more about Pete.  He was a college quarterback.  He knows the mental game.  His son is at the NFL Combine this week trying to catch on to a team as a wide receiver.  I hope he runs a quick 40 because he’s a great kid and would be an asset to anyone.  Pete’s been coaching athletes for years at Mind Eye Sports.

I am going to start blogging a bit more on the mental game and try to have links to resources for you.  It’s important.  I think understanding the mental preparation that you have to have to succeed can mean the difference between building a great company and failure.  It’s that important.

Perhaps more importantly, if you fail understanding the mental game will help you pick up the pieces of your life and be able to start again.