I went cycling recently on what’s generally known as the fastest and most challenging ride in town. I used to be a regular on this ride but for various reasons it’s been several years since I’ve done it. Although I stayed with the group for the whole ride, I spent the last half trying as hard as I could to stay attached to the group. There were plenty of moments when I didn’t think I’d make it to the end.
At the finish, the first thing I thought was “This is exactly what I needed.” A good friend of mine who was an excellent cyclist used to say “It’s good to get your teeth kicked in every now and then.” He meant that it’s always good to ride with people who are way better than you. It will be uncomfortable and you’ll be at your limit the whole time, but your fitness will improve dramatically if you make a habit of doing this. You’ll achieve a fitness level that’s simply not possible to reach alone. This is generally known as “playing up.”
Note that this only works when the people you’re playing with are in the same ballpark as you. That is, the current gap between their abilities and yours can’t be too large or this dynamic won’t work for them or you. It’s important that the gap be not so large that you don’t believe you can hang if you work hard enough.
How does this relate to trading? The first thing to point out is that if you trade in isolation, you can improve but unless you find a way to interact with better traders, then you will improve at a much slower rate.
What’s the equivalent of “playing up” for traders? I’d like to hear how readers approach this and I’ll add to a future post.