Saturday, 26 December 2015

If it wasn't for me, I'd do brilliantly

15:33 Posted by The Thalesians (@thalesians) 1 comment

Christmas has come. Christmas has gone. The tree remains. The wrapping has gone. The decorations still sparkle. Christmas markets are still around (as above), but quieter. The days between Christmas and New Year are here, that odd period of limbo, where the last year, 2015, lingers, hanging on to time as an outstretched hand seeks that embrace of the familiar, whilst, the new year, 2016, awaits the chimes of Big Ben, an unknown artist ready to grab its 15 minutes of fame. It's a time to recollect what we have done, and indeed, what we have failed to do, which we had planned for in the past year. One of my favourite quotations about explaining success and failure, is from Chamfort, the eighteen century French writer (which is incidentally the opening quotation in my book, Trading Thalesians and the title of this post):

'If it wasn't for me, I'd do brilliantly.'

When it comes to plans, we know the saying that the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry! What is a plan, but an ill suited straitjacket for the future? It is somewhat disconcerting to accept that randomness plays such a deep role in our lives, given that the more randomness an event seems to exhibit, the less power we have to influence it. It feels so much more satisfying to believe that we have a casting vote over our lives. My earlier comment on planning might have been somewhat facetious, given a modicum of planning does have its place. Having no plan whatsoever, surrenders all your control to randomness. At the same time, a plan which assumes little or no space for randomness is doomed from the start.

So much of modern life is random. Who we meet for example is so often a product of randomness. In particular if we think of the modern day, both cheap travel and the advent of social networks have suddenly increased the number of connections we can make exponentially. If we seek to eliminate all randomness from our life, yes, we might eliminate the potential downsides, yet, we simultaneously remove any opportunities for upside from randomness.

A good trader recognises that randomness is an intrinsic part of what he/she does, trading is the monetisation of managing risk. Yet, a good trader also understands, that it is sufficient to skew the odds in their favour to be successful, rather than to be right all the time. This want to coax value from randomness, need not be confined to trading. The same approach can transcend so many other parts of our life too: making the most of randomness, rather than attempting to master it (which is impossible).

So maybe this time of limbo in the calendar, isn't so much a time for planning, maybe it's simply a time to accept, that randomness will happen. Rather than being fooled by randomness, embrace it. Best of luck for 2016!

Like my writing? Have a look at my book Trading Thalesians - What the ancient world can teach us about trading today is on Palgrave Macmillan. You can order the book on Amazon. Drop me a message if you're interested in me writing something for you or creating a systematic trading strategy for you! Please also come to our regular finance talks in London, New York, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt, Zurich & San Francisco - join our group for more details here (Thalesians calendar below)

20 Jan - London - Nick Firoozye - Managing Uncertainty, Mitigating Risk
29 Jan - Budapest - Robin Hanson - The Age of Em: Robots
08 Feb - London - Saeed Amen/Delaney Granizo-Mackenzie - CTA/Pairs trading (joint Thalesians/Quantopian event)
29 Feb - London - Jessica James - FX option performance (TBC)
21 Mar - London - Robin Hanson - The Age of Em: Robots

1 comment:

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