I Never Thought I’d Make It To 30

During my time as a 20 something, I had a profound sense that I would never make it to 30 years old. It was weird; almost like my ability to see my future past that point just stopped. It was a somewhat unnerving, yet serene experience – one I faced with a surreal kind of acceptance of fate. I have told very few people about this, but now I am telling you.

You see, due to my lack of ability to see any future past the age of 30, I just came to terms with the thought that something would happen to me between now and then which I couldn’t foresee, but that would change my life immeasurably – naturally, I just figured that would be death, and the end of my time here amongst the living.

That might seem seriously morbid and unnecessarily extreme to the reader, but it’s how I felt, right or wrong. It was a weird feeling, and not really a though that scared me, which I found particularly interesting.

Well, I am now 30 years old, and racing at full speed through my 31st year on planet Earth on a collision course with my 32nd – and life has never been better. I’m more alive today than I have ever been, and I have one thing to thank for it – my future vision, my mission, my legacy. I am no longer limited in what I see for my future – in fact, I now see a legacy that stretches until the end of time itself. That’s not ego or greed, it’s a vision for the World and the part I play in it that is bigger than me and my life, and that will live long beyond the point at which my body decays and rots back into the ground from which I was born.

Through my early years, and especially my teens and my 20’s, I was extremely naive and thoroughly ignorant. I stopped learning when I left school, and when I decided to drop out of college to work full time at Pizza Hut so I could focus on my career as a musician (or as I affectionately referred to it at the time, a ‘rock star’) I seemed to leave my curiosity for the World at the college gates.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and to be quite frank, I didn’t care. I didn’t think it was important, and I didn’t think it applied to me. I thought I knew what I needed to know, and so I fumbled through life for years, blinding hitting wall after wall of dissatisfaction and despair.

In my 20’s, I hated my job, and spent my days daydreaming about when I would become a ‘rock star’ and everything would be okay. Fulfilment was a pipe-dream, and satisfaction seemed to live on another planet, whilst I wallowed in the mud of disillusionment, accepting little to no responsibility for my lot in life, or the path I had chosen to walk.

Then, at 25, I started to wake up.

I have since come to realise that the reason I could see no future past 30 was partly that 30 was a subconsciously important landmark in my life (mainly as a result of extensive social conditioning around the importance of that milestone), and because I had no vision for my future.

You future visions is everything – it’s what makes you hungry, and that fuels the fire in your belly to get out there and smash through your goals. It’s what makes life worth living, and what drives us forward against all odds, and immense adversity. My future vision today would drive me through hell and back, and in a lot of ways it already has, testing my determination and resolve almost to breaking point on many occasions.

Still, my determination is unwavering, and my vision propels me forward, leaving a legacy in it’s wake that my children and generations to come can be proud to model.

Calcifying my vision, my reason for living – my ‘why” – was one of the single most important aspects of deep personal introspection I have undertaken. It sparked a flame at the end of what was an extremely dark tunnel, and lit the way to fulfilment of my desires and passions, and that showed me how I could take that passion, amplify it, and share it with the World in ways that cause tidal waves of positive change across the face of the planet.

My vision keeps me going when there’s nothing else left.

So here’s my message to you; find yourself. Calcify your vision, and set about delivering your legacy to the World. Know who you are, and how you can add value to the World around you – EVERYONE has value to add, and everyone has a message to share that can positively affect the hearts and minds of people the World over.

What’s your message? What’s your vision? What will your legacy look like and how will it impact the World when your meat cart has rotted and returned to the roots of the Earth?

Know this; the value you have is everything inside of you. Know yourself, and then take that knowledge of self out to the World to share the intrinsic value of compounded experience you hold within. Everything you need is inside yourself, and everything the World needs is inside each and every one of us.

I spent my life climbing the mountain with my eyes closed, my ears deaf and my mind numb, but when I started to wake up at 25, I removed my limitations one by one, and started to give myself to the World wholly and completely. This 5 year turning point period in my life marked the final road to the top of that mountain – to the peaks of clarity, providing a 360 degree vision I had never before experienced. Stood here on the peak I can see for miles in every direction, and it’s so clear to me now. I have the foresight to see each and every path available to me, along with the challenges and achievements that come with each path.

But it’s not time to descend the mountain; oh no. There is no going down from here, like most people will joke about turning 30 years old. I’ve spent my life climbing the mountain, and now it’s my time to spread my wings, take my leap of faith, and soar.

Today is the first day of your life, and you are a gift – whoever you are, wherever you are, please don’t waste it.

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Mind Your Own Business

Yeah – that’s right; I’m talkin’ to YOU!

But I’m not saying what you think I’m saying. Rather than chastising you for poking your nose into areas of other’s lives that don’t concern you, I’m talking about running your own business.

I am a firm believer in the concept of the modern ‘entrepreneur revolution’, as written about by author and entrepreneur Daniel Priestley. As our technology advances exponentially, we are finding that machines and computers are taking more and more of our traditional ‘jobs’ and thus decimating the jobs market. This is inevitably leading to a World where people are having to become increasingly reliant on adding value to others through creative, esoteric and essentially human pursuits. Thanks to ‘Moore’s Law’, this trend shows no signs of abating any time soon – or, ever.

So, it’s time to adapt.

When I come across people who fight against change, too comfortable in what they know, and as a result slowing dying as their mental fortitude atrophies in the stark lack of adversity, I try to explain to them that change is the only thing that’s guaranteed in life and as such it is both senseless and futile to fight against it. Yet, so many do. So many are too comfortable in what they know, and have never been shown the intrinsic value in the realisation that life happens for us, rather than too us.

Anyone with their eyes open and head out of the sand can see that we are in a massive time of flux. Think about this; up until around 50-100 years ago, the rate of change in the World was relatively slow. It was unlikely that any one person would see any dramatic, global change in a single lifetime, and so our ancestors natural habitat was one of relative consistency (another point to consider is that people didn’t live as long back then, so were even less likely to experience any dramatic levels of socioeconomic change). That is no longer so. We have reached a pivotal point in the bellcurve of our technological advancement as a race, and as such we are now experiencing massive levels of change, not just within a single human lifetime, but within the space of a few years.

This effect – the quickening of the rate of socioeconomic change in the World – is compounding, and therefore ever expanding and becoming more and more pervasive in our everyday lives.

All the more reason to accept the argument that one of the smartest things you can do in life is to accept, and embrace change – move in flow with it, and expand your skills, abilities and consciousness along with the ever expanding seas of change.

So, back on to managing your own business.

Now, although I’m a huge advocate of setting up and owning (owning, not operating – there’s a massive difference) your own business, what I’m talking about here is not strictly limited to owning your own company. I mean to mind the business of your life! You see, even if you are happiest and most fulfilled in employment and therefore have no desire to own your own business, you still need to run your own business.

That business is managing and investing your money to create passive income streams.

Even the lowest paid workers are able to do this; the trouble is that hardly anyone knows how. The reason? Our education system is severely lacking, and antiquated in it’s content and methods. Our current education system was designed back in the industrial age, and is set up perfectly for training an obedient population of worker bees to go out and work in offices and factories across the land. This is an old model that no longer fits, nor is fit for purpose; the landscape has already changed significantly, and yet our model for how we educate the next generation of leaders is distinctly lacking.

Remember the entrepreneur revolution? All those jobs being done more reliably, more efficiently and with less error by computers and machines. The ever expanding sea of change is upon us, and it’s imperative for us to act in order to not be swept away in the tide.

One simple argument for managing your own business, regardless of your situation, is that there will be no state pension when my children retire – nor when I retire for that matter. In order for my generation, and all those that follow, to be comfortable in retirement we need to learn to manage our money, and to start right now.

Young people today need to adopt an upgraded perception of the World in order to realise the successes the dream of; education starts now. There are so many holes in the national curriculum that you have your work cut out for you when you leave the traditional education system. In the last year and a half alone I have listened to 17 solid days of audio books, and not a single one of them fiction. That investment of time in my own education has changed my life irrevocably, and will continue to do so, compounding as I learn more and more, adding knowledge and action onto knowledge and action; and so success is born.

If you don’t learn to look after yourself, no one else is going to do it for you, and odds are you’re going to allow yourself to get fucked by the system. Whether you like it or not, this life is a game – and you’re fucking playing it until you die. Now, you have two choices (and you always have a choice) – are you going to learn the rules of the game and play it to the best of your ability, embracing opportunity and opening doors for yourself along the way? Or are you going to fight it, kicking and screaming as it bends you over and degrades you into submission and misery?

I know which is my choice; I’d rather die fighting, having played all out despite the odds, than to arrive at my grave a slave to a life I surrendered myself to decades ago because I was too afraid or ignorant to take a chance on myself.

It’s your life, and your responsibility.

Make it count – learn the rules, and play the game.

My Heart & Yours

Last night, I once again had one of the most emotionally powerful and beautiful experiences of my life. It’s something I only remember experiencing with my second little boy in this way, as he is so much calmer than Reuben was, and still is. Xander has always been such a placid little baby, and in a lot of ways is the complete opposite of my persistently wilful eldest. It’s amazing how two children in the same family can be so different, yet so alike all at once.

Reuben would rarely fall asleep in my arms, choosing instead to breastfeed to sleep or, as he got older, mess around until he wears himself out. Xander, however, is a different story all together. Give me 15 minutes and some Ed Sheeran and I’ll have him sleeping like a, well, baby.

This in itself is a beautiful thing, as I can only ever remember Reuben falling asleep on me once or twice, but it’s what happens around 10 minutes in to that process that moves me beyond comprehension.

As any parent will know, but may not initially realise, when you pick up and hold your children (assuming they’re not massive attitude-ridden teenagers) you tend to bear their weight on your left side, holding them on your chest but slightly off to the left hand side rather than central. I believe this is instinctual, as this positions the child so that their heart is sitting directly on yours.

Holding a baby or young child close to your heart like this is amazingly powerful in so many ways. Your heart rate regulates your child’s heart rate, the warmth of your body helps to warm and regulate the your child’s temperature, and the carbon dioxide you exhale with every breath promotes regular breathing in your little one. This is, in part, why co-sleeping is such a wonderful thing – when done properly and when sound health and safety principals are observed (like not co-sleeping if you’ve been drinking, are a smoker or are overweight).

So, at roughly 10 minutes in to the process of singing my Son to sleep, the most wonderful things happens; our hearts synchronise, and I feel my heart and his beating as one. I feel the power of our beating hearts combined, and the combined power of their electromagnetic fields unify and strengthen. It’s a crazy feeling, because it feels like my heart doubles in power and pumping force – so much so, that it feels unnervingly like my heart might burst out of my chest at any moment. But it’s not the power of my heart alone, but the power of two hearts in unity, reinforced by the unbreakable love between parent and child.

Those last five minutes of getting him to sleep and some of the most spiritual I’ve ever experienced, and is the only time when I feel so connected to his life force that I feel like I can begin to understand the depth of connection that exists between mother and child. They, of course, have the advantage of having been once physically connected to their children – a process that studies show leaves protein deposits in the mothers brain; a gift from their unborn child. So, when it seems like mothers know things about their children from pure intuition, it should be appreciated that mothers have an extremely spiritual connection with them as a result of connections that form through the pregnancy process.

Having the experience I’ve had with my little one has given me a taste of how powerful and beautiful that connection is; one that I savour any time I am lucky enough to experience it.

Feeling yourself become one with your little one through the physical connection of a synchronised beating heart, and through the energetic electromagnetic connection is akin to becoming one with some abstract definition of God – the Universal energy that drives and guides everything, from what we see to what we don’t.

The Universe is within us all as we all are within the Universe, and when two hearts come together like that it provides the opportunity for the Universe to see the beauty of itself in it’s full and limitless glory. That depth of recognition of the intrinsic beauty within us all is an enlightening glimpse at the massive potential inherent to each and every one of us. Let’s not ignore something so powerful, and something so pure – it is a signpost to everything we are, and everything we can be.

 

Entitlement – Good or Bad?

Entitlement is a tricky subject these days, and it’s a word that often comes with negative connotations and pre-conceptions. Should a sense of entitlement be encouraged in children? What is the difference between someone with an attitude of entitlement, and someone without?

On the face of it, I would guess that most of you would associate the nurturing of entitlement in people negatively. We tend to think of entitled people as those who feel, act and live as if the World owes them something – as if they are born into this place automatically entitled to all the privileges life has to offer, without putting in any of the effort required to earn those privileges.

That, however, is a drastic oversimplification of the subject.

You see, entitlement can absolutely be a positive attribute in any person, but it relies on that sense of entitlement being nurtured in the correct way in order for it to be a positive attribute. You see, whereas believing you are entitled to privileges such as material possessions, a certain number of holidays a year or the undivided attention of your peer group with no consideration to earning those things or the effect such a sense of entitlement can have on those around you, it is imperative to success that everyone demonstrates a level of entitlement towards their lives.

If you don’t believe you are entitled to be successful in your career, will you be? If you don’t believe you are entitled to answers when you pose legitimate and thoughtful questions, will you actively seek out the answers your heart desires? Honestly, you probably won’t, and that results in a catastrophic dumbing down of society as a whole.

Too much these days do I see people who are all too willing to just accept the status quo as being the only version of reality available to them, instead of adopting an attitude of entitlement with regards to their intrinsic ability to shape their reality as they see fit. In order to achieve anything in life, we must first move to a space internally where we believe in our own capability, and in our inherent right to live the best life possible. But that takes work.

This is very different to the feeling of entitlement that disposes a person to believe that everything they want in life should be handed to them on a plate, and instead fosters a strong sense of self-belief that provides unwavering motivation and determination which propels us towards the achievement of our dreams and goals.

This is the main difference between the children of poor and middle class people, and wealthy people. Regardless of innate ability, the main determining factor of success in children is what social class they are born into. This may be hard to swallow for a lot of people, but extensive studies have shown this to be more true than most of us would like to believe.

The reason? Entitlement, or, practical intelligence.

One study followed children and parents of different socioeconomic backgrounds in an attempt to ascertain what the main factors were that determined success, and found that although children from poor families were better at being more independent, children from wealthier families were actively taught entitlement – they are encouraged to speak up if they are unhappy, and so develop a powerful ability to shape their environment to suit their needs. Now, there’s nothing to say that this has to be done at the expense of anyone else (as is associated with the word ‘entitlement’ in the usual sense), and in doing so empowers children from wealthier families to speak up and fight for the things they want to achieve in life. This is why these children tend to thrive – they customise their environment to suit their needs, and to set themselves up for success.

Although children from poorer backgrounds tend to be more independent, they often receive less praise and attention, and this is critical in developing a mindset of success. They learn fortitude and mental strength that empowers them to deal with and accept their hardships for what they are, but never empowers them to stand up and expect better. It breeds the ‘it is what it is’ attitude, and this only serves to suffocate and stifle in the long term. As Malcolm Gladwell so eloquently puts it in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success‘:

“In today’s World, a sense of entitlement makes you more suited to success than a sense of constraint.”

Where wealthier parents have more resources and time at their disposal to help foster their children’s passions by joining them at multiple after-school clubs, introducing them to new activities and experiences that force them to push the bounds of their perceived limitations, and other such activities such as public speaking and mixing with powerful and influential people which require their children to face their fears and develop a resistance to intimidation, the converse is strikingly different. Children from poorer backgrounds are faced with an environment where their parents are absent due to the hard work and time it’s often necessary for them to put in to make ends meet, and so were too busy to help cultivate the skills in their children afforded to those from wealthier backgrounds.

This observation is supported by Terman’s study of his ‘Termites’ – a group of children who were identified as intellectual ‘outliers’ at an early age, and who were observed as they developed into maturity. Terman’s final observations of this group of supposedly ‘gifted’ children are revealing indeed – although all of the children in the group were identified as gifted, their intellectual capacity was not the defining factor of success.

Indeed, Terman and others believed that having identified the a group of children with outstanding intellectual abilities, the expectation was that they would all, for the most part, excel in being high achievers – however, this was not the case. In fact, the results across the group of ‘Termites’ was mixed. So what was the determining factor? Class.

Even across a group of intellectually gifted children, it was found that those who came from wealthier backgrounds were much more likely to be successful in their lives and achieve great things, whereas those from poorer backgrounds achieved somewhat mediocre results, with some ending up in the clutches of addiction and squaller. It seems the defining factor was the way their parents showed up in their lives, and where the children from wealthier backgrounds had the resources and encouragement to develop a mindset of success, the children from poorer backgrounds were lacking in such qualities of mind despite being more independent.

As controversial as this conclusion may be, it’s hard to argue with the results of the various studies examining the subject. It’s something we should all take very seriously if we have our children’s best interests at heart, as I think it’s pretty safe to say that we all want the best for our kids, and we want them to have the level of success in their lives that they deserve – and every child deserves to be successful.

Really, it’s all down to mindset, and as parents and teachers we play such a profoundly important role in the development of our children’s thought processes. I honestly believe that 80% of everything is psychology, and only 20% the mechanics, and this holds true on the subject of success as it does in all walks of life.

The environment we build and perpetuate for our children has a massive effect on how they think about themselves and their World, and it’s potently important that we take such studies with more than just a pinch of salt. There is quite obviously a great divide between those who end up successful in life, and those who do not, and the only way we can hope to bridge that gap is by looking honestly at the facts, making a concerted effort to understand the things that make the difference in our lives, and the lives of our children.

In conclusion, it isn’t as easy as adopting the mindset that entitlement is a negative quality, and there’s a strong argument for fostering entitlement in our children – but in the right ways. Teach them to question authority, but balance that with a lust for learning through an inquisitive mind and a deep level of respect for their fellow human beings. Teach them to speak up when they are not happy with something, but balance that with an understanding that life isn’t always fair, and the trials and tribulations we face throughout our lives are a necessary and important part of the path to success in anything we do.

In understanding the social and environmental constraints we put on ourselves and those around us, we can provide the best of both Worlds for ourselves and our children – the strength and independence demonstrated by those from poorer backgrounds, and the success mindset able to stand up to their fears and challenge the status quo that ultimately allows us to evolve and grow as a race. Both are so important, and helping our children to develop with both in balance is one of the most valuable gifts we can give them as teachers, mentors and leaders.

Trading: The Basics

Trading the financial markets is, in my opinion, one of the best of several ways to turn the tables of wealth in your favour. That said, the scary fact is that 90% of retail traders lose money and fail at trading the markets. Why is this? Put simply, it’s because they are not trading – they’re gambling. Most people who jump into the markets have no idea what they’re doing, don’t bother to do any research or learn the skills required to be profitable consistently, and then wonder why they lose money hand over fist.

I know this, because that’s exactly the mistake I made when I first started trading.

I learned about what seemed to be a simple strategy using GUPPY Multiple Moving Averages crossing each other in a specific way and jumped straight into the markets with no idea what support and resistance even meant, and no concept of risk management. This was a big mistake, and although I closed many profitable trades using this method, my loses far exceeded my profits, and it wasn’t long before I had wiped out my account equity through risky emotional trading.

As I had no concept of risk management strategies, I used a ridiculous amount of leverage trading CFD’s and I engaged in dangerous ‘revenge’ trading after losing half of my account equity on a position that turned against me. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been using a strict trading plan to remove the emotion, but as it was I ended up moving my stop loss further and further away from my entry in the desperate hope the position would turn around and move back in my favour. I kept moving my stop loss until I was risking several times the value of the position, and it eventually took me out with over a 120% loss. To make matters even worse, the market then turned around and began moving back in my favour – you can imagine my complete and utter devastation.

This led to a bout of emotional revenge trading which saw me wipe out the rest of my account value, to the point where I didn’t even have enough left to open a new position.

I was beside myself, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure emotionally.

A lot of people make exactly the same mistake, and a lot of them make these mistakes using money borrowed from credit cards, friends or family – money that isn’t theirs, and which they certainly can’t afford to lose.

So, although I love trading, and have now come out the other side after immersing myself in learning and practice, I am acutely aware of the dangers and risks involved and it is for this reason that I want to help others avoid the same mistakes I made so they can get to a position of being consistently profitable much more quickly than I did, and with less heartache.

Trading – The Basics

Risk Management

Risk management is THE most important part of any trading plan; without it, it is extremely unlikely you will ever be consistently profitable. If you go on-line you’ll find tonnes of information about trading with people showing you 1000% gains per trade and other completely unrealistic nonsense. Be very careful what you believe and buy into when viewing material on-line, and if you see anyone pushing trading systems or indicators that purport to realise massive quick gains then avoid them at all costs.

Trading is NOT a get rich quick scheme – it takes time, practice and discipline to master, and the amount you are able to make/lose per trade is directly proportional to the value of your account equity.

You should always know exactly what price you are looking to enter a trade, and exactly what price level you are getting out of a trade – whether that’s being stopped out by your pre-determined stop loss because your prediction was wrong and the market moved against you, or being taken out at a pre-determined ‘take profit’ level.

There are three basic rules I work to when managing my risk in trading:

  1. Never risk more than 1% of your account equity per trade
  2. Always use a stop loss, and never move it once in the trade unless doing so is part of your pre-determined trading plan (for example, letting profits run and using a trailing stop loss behind significant candles or price structure)
  3. Do not enter a trade unless you have good reason to believe you can achieve at least a 1:1 risk/reward ratio on lower timeframe trades (5 minute charts), or a 1:3 risk/reward ratio on swing day trades on the higher timeframes (1 hour, 4 hour, and daily charts)

Analysis

Analysing the markets is so important before jumping into any positions – if you haven’t analysed the markets intelligently before opening a position, then your gambling and risking losing a serious amount of money based on a whim. There are two type of analysis when it comes to financial markets – technical analysis, and fundamental analysis.

Technical Analysis is the analysis is price action on the charts. It’s look at support and resistance zones created by historical price data, and the information conveyed through each individual candle stick. There are many technical analysis indicators out there, and certainly too many to go through here, but I would recommend ignoring most of them until you’ve mastered the basics and are working profitably consistently.

The technical indictors I use on a regular basis are as follows:

  1. Moving Averages – these are basically dynamic support and resistance zones that are based on information derived from a set period of historical price data. I use the 20, 50 and 200 period simple moving average, and the 8 period exponential moving average (I use different combinations of these depending on what strategy I’m using, but the 200SMA is one a use consistently across all markets as it’s one of the key indicators used by the large financial institutions)
  2. RSI – this is the relative strength index and put simply indicates buying or selling strength in a given market. Some people use this to trade trending channels, but I only use this as a rough reference and it doesn’t form a key part of my strategy – it’s more of an added confluence that would help confirm justification of a position along with other more potent reasons
  3. ATR – this is the Average True Range and is again based on a pre-defined period of historical price action. The ATR gives an indication of the level of volatility in a given market, and I use this to determine appropriate prices levels for my positions stop loses by keeping them wide of normal market volatility levels which can vary throughout the day
  4. Support & Resistance – this is probably the primary indicator I use when it comes to technical analysis, and are basically important prices levels determined by and derived from historical price data. They are basically levels where a given market has consistently struggled to break through, and so offer some indication of good levels to get in and out of trades. If I’m in a trade and it’s approaching a key daily or weekly support/resistance level, then I’ll be tightening my stops and closely managing the trade as there’s an increase probability of it turning around and moving against me when price action reaches these levels. Support and resistance is a great way to determine management levels for your trades and should never be ignored. Support is a price level where price action moves down to and then bounces upwards from, and resistance is a price level where price action moves up to and then bounces back down from
  5. Candle Sticks – candles tell us a lot about the sentiment in a given market by showing rejection from certain price levels and the shape of a fully formed candle can often be used a entry or exit signals for trades. There are many different names for different types of candle and candle stick formations, but the key ones I use on a consistent basis are the Pin Bar and Engulfing Candle

Fundamental analysis is a little more complex, and a little more involved if you’ve not done it before, and basically involves digging into the fundamental information about a stock or commodity to ascertain if there is a strong possibility of that stock going up or down in price. This often involves staying on top of financial and business news, and reading company reports and financial data. This is important and should not be ignored.

Most people will tend to favour one method of analysis over another, and that’s fine, but I would certainly recommend learning both as different strategies will require different skill sets and information sets. For example, when buying physical stock shares in companies my predominant method of analysis is through looking at fundamentals, but when day trading through CFD’s or Spread Bets I tend to favour technical analysis.

If I’m investing in company stock long term, then I want to be sure the company has strong financial data, low levels of debt in relation to it’s revenue, and healthy rising profits.

Your Trading Plan

Finally, it is of paramount importance that you have a written trading plan that you have back tested on the markets you wish to trade. Having a written plan helps to take the emotions out of trading, and gives you a strict set of rules to work to when opening, managing or closing positions in the markets.

A trading plan is just a set of rules that you stick to every time you enter into a trade, and that is based on the results of your back testing analysis through historical data. Always backtest your strategies using historical price data so you can form a meaningful and consistently profitable set of rules to work to when trading. I have several strategies that I’ve learned and devised that I’ve back tested over years of price data, and this is what gives me the confidence that overall my strategies are profitable. This is so important, as there will always be losing trades, and that’s fine so long as your using good risk management to cut your loses early and run your profits, and if you have faith in your plan being profitable over the long term because you’ve tested it on historical data.

Back testing might seem arduous and a lot of work, and although it can be a time consuming process, it’s well worth the time investment to ensure you’re operating a trading plan that is consistently profitable over a long period of time (years).

A trading plan is essential for removing the emotion from your trading – if you let your emotions tag along for the ride you WILL lose money. A good plan makes all your trading decisions for you, so you can’t get caught up in emotional trading when price action moves against you. Devise a good plan, and have the discipline to stick to it and you will be profitable over the long term.

Getting to grips with the basics I’ve outlined here will put you in a much stronger position than 90% of people who trade the financial markets, and although it takes time to learn and practice before refining your ability and techniques, mastering these basic concepts will start you on the path to consistently profitable trading.

If you’re interested in learning more, or in some private tuition on the basics of trading and understanding the markets, then get in touch with me at littlegreyjk@gmail.com for more information.

 

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch

As nice as it is to be warm, safe and comfortable, are they states that benefit us? Yes and no. In times of recovery, rest and recuperation, the luxury of being in a state, place or environment that facilitates, and even radiates, comfort, warmth and safety is absolutely beneficial for us, but we must not forget that we must first have reason to require time for rest in order to recover and recuperate.

If we need to recover from something, I think we can all agree that the something in question must have been an activity or situation that was either stressful, challenging or in some way outside of your ‘comfort zone’. That could be psychological or physiological; stressors followed by recovery is an important cycle for the optimal health of both.

Rest and recovery is great because it’s when we use what we’ve experienced to build our bodies and minds, and ultimately to grow in some way or other. But without this rest being preceded by some sort of effort, a source of stress on either the body or the mind, there is nothing to recover from, and so no recovery takes place. It is just rest. Rest for what sake? Everything has a purpose in life, and rest is important for recovery from stressful experiences or situations. Without this rest has no purpose and so becomes devoid of value and even detrimental to our health.

Perpetual rest is stillness. What else do we know of that is still with no purpose? Dead things. Cold things. Lifeless things. Movement is life – the more you move your body the more alive you feel, the more energy you have and the more powerful you are to take life by the reigns.

Yes, rest has it’s place, but it must be a balanced equation. You are either growing or you’re dying – you’re either building muscle through hypertrophy, or losing muscle through atrophy; there’s no middle ground. Growth is the only way to stay alive, because it keeps you moving forward.

That’s why it’s so important to have the courage to step outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Try new things, immerse yourself in new experiences, and visit new places. Always have an open mind and you’ll be amazed at the things you learn from the opportunities that come your way. When we are open to what life has to offer, we allow ourselves to see the abundant opportunity all around us.

Discomfort is a powerful catalyst for growth, and I urge you to harness it. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, do something that scares the shit out of you. Write down how it feels, and what you learn about yourself in the process. This is all about introspection, and self-analysis – the better you know yourself, the better you will both understand and command your World.

The more you do things the perpetuate growth like this, the more you will find your capacity for everything in life grows. The more you expand your experiences and understanding of yourself and the World around you, the more your comfort zone will expand and the more people and opportunities you will welcome into your field of view.

If you do the things you have always done, you will get the results you have always got. If you’re happy with where you are right now, then I congratulate you – you’re doing great. However, if you’re not so happy with where you are right now then it’s time to start thinking about doing some things differently. Start going to some different places, with some different people and having some different experiences to expand your World view and open yourself to a new way of seeing and being that better serves you.

Remember, fear never goes away for any of us, but the definition of courage is to act in spite of fear. So I challenge you to be courageous – you’re life depends on it.

Everything I See Is A Reflection Of Me

As I look out on the World as I journey through life, and as the World pours into me, I am acutely aware that my perception is but a projection of myself upon my environment. The information comes in, mixes with my filters, biases and rule sets, and then gets spat back out by it’s creator under the guise of representing reality.

This holds true for each and every living creature in existence, and so you have to ask – what is reality?

We tend to think of reality as something fixed – a string of moments flowing along the space-time continuum, the parameters of which defined by strict rules, principals and expectations. But, it would seem more plausible to think of reality as being more flexible, dynamic and diverse.

Each and every person’s version of reality is different, and the reality defined by a human being is a lot different to that of a cat or a fish. For all these different experiences to co-exist in harmony as they do must require that reality be extremely diverse in nature, flexible in it’s manifestation and something not quite as solid and definable as we might otherwise like to believe.

We should be mindful of this as we move through our lives.

When we encounter others who do not meet our standards or who do not deliver on our expectations, it’s very easy to get caught in the trap of believing that it is the other person who is at fault, rather than taking some time to be a little more introspective and seeking out the real reason for the failed communication.

If you are struggling to get through to someone, the first thing most people might assume is that the person listening to the explanation lacks the intelligence to understand it. Whereas that might be true, it is always the obligation and responsibility of the person explaining a new concept, theory or skill to explain and teach it in such a way that it is easily understood and remembered by the student.

You might not think of yourself as a teacher, but we are all teachers in life. We teach others through our actions and by our example both consciously and unconsciously, and it is the latter we must strive to be most mindful of. Often, people remember things from their childhood which are extremely emotionally significant for them, and that shaped the way they viewed the World from the moment onwards, but that the other person involved can’t even remember years later because the event had no emotional significance to them. This is particularly relevant in parent-child relationships. As parents, we must always be mindful of the potential effect of the things we say, and the behaviours we demonstrate in their presence. Even the smallest of things, can have a transformationally profound effect on young minds.

Each and every one of us has within us a wealth of things that others would find value in learning. We teach others every day when we interact with them through the course of living our lives, by effecting their experiences and altering their perceptions and interpretations of their immediate World space. Be mindful of how much power you have over others. Choose a positive, strong state, and wake up each and every day with so much purpose and passion it’s all you can do to stop yourself from bursting out and showering the World in light.

Purpose and passion – two excellent reasons to be alive.

What does the way you see your World and use those things to shape your reality say about you? What is your reflection showing you?

Pain or Pleasure?

There are two prime movers in life that provide motivation to change where we are, and improve our position towards avoiding one, and moving towards the other; enter pain and pleasure. But, which is the more powerful motivating force in our lives?

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

– Tony Robbins

Ultimately, it comes down to these two things, and these two things alone. What are the sources of pain in our lives? These are the things we are motivated to move away from. Anything that causes us pain, will be a motivator for some sort of change in our lives as the only way to move away from a present source of pain is for it to be not so present anymore. If we change who are, who we associate with and how we behave then are able to facilitate changes in ourselves, and thus our lives, which reduces the amount of pain we feel.

Equally as important and motivating (especially for the male species it seems) is the desire to move towards experiences and behaviours that give us pleasure. Any experience that increases happiness, fulfilment or love in life is going to act as a powerful force pulling us towards more of the same. Who doesn’t want more pleasure in their lives, right?

But here’s the thing; are the two really equal in their power over us? Surprisingly, no.

“People will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure”

– Tony Robbins

It seems pain is a much more powerful agent for change than gaining pleasure – something Tony has noticed after working with millions of people over the course of his career in coaching people to ultimate personal success. Increase someone’s level of pain they feel around something they’re not happy with in their life and they’re considerably more likely to make the changes necessary, and more importantly to embed those changes as a new way of live, than they are if they were to attempt to motivate themselves with the promise of pleasure as a reward for changing.

There are a few reasons for this, and it makes sense when you think about it. Firstly, if you’re in a position where you are feeling deep pain it’s like being in an oven turned up to maximum heat. You will do anything to stop the pain because it’s very real in the here and now. The alternative you’re trying to move towards might not even be pleasure, but just a more benign state that is more bearable than the searing heat of your current situation. In a state of pain, the here and now is far from comfortable, and this is a huge motivating factor.

Conversely, if the level of pain is more bearable, and you are attempting to motivate change by focusing on the pleasure of achievement, of reaching your goals, then your here and now is a lot more comfortable. Sure, it would be great to lose that weight, or to get a better job that you enjoy more, but that seems like a lot of work compared with the relative comfort of your present position. When the current level of pain is tepid, the motivation to get off your arse and do what needs to be done can wane quickly, like water through a sieve. Comfort is a dangerous animal, and we should all take great care to not spend too much time there – when we’re comfortable, we aren’t capable of achieving our greatest potential for personal and professional growth.

“In this World you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow”

– Lou Holtz

In the words of T. Harv Eker; you have to grow you comfort zone to grow your money zone. This is true in all walks of life; you don’t grow a muscle without first stressing it through exercise, and pushing it to the limits of it’s capability. You don’t improve your VO2 Max or marathon time without stressing your cardiovascular system and pushing it to it’s limits on a regular basis. Stress is the prime mover for growth, whether it’s physical stress to strengthen the body, or psychological stress to strengthen the fortitude of the mind. Just take a look around you, look deeply at the World and you will see this law of nature all around you as you start to notice the mechanics of life.

This is why so many people talk about wanting to change – and they really do want to change – but never actually do. It’s because they’re too comfortable where they are, and although they aren’t happy with their situation, they aren’t in enough pain to get the motivation required to take action and make the changes they need in their lives. A typical example is someone who complains constantly about their work life; they hate their job, their boss is an arsehole and the office politics are unbearable. Yet, those same people are still in the same situation after years of suffering because they are too comfortable. They might hate their jobs, but they make excuses like; I have a family to feed, I have a mortgage, I have obligations and commitments, and that’s why I am stuck where I am.

Bullshit. You’re stuck where you are because ever day you wake up and make a conscious choice to stay in a life you despise. Take some responsibility, own your life and your decisions, because no one is holding a gun to your head. You and you alone are the sole person who has made all the choices in your life, and if you haven’t then you have let others make your choices for you – which is still you making a choice to abdicate from making your own choices.

I’ve been that person, so I speak from first hand experience.

So, if you are not happy with some aspect of your life you need to make the experience more painful. Take that pain dial and turn it up to 11! Trying to coax yourself to change by dangling the carrot of pleasure is unlikely to have the motivational power required to make the significant changes in life that can really move the needle in your level of happiness and fulfilment. Instead, step into the pain of where you are and amplify it. A great exercise you can practice to do this is to meditate on the things that you’re not happy with in your life, and imagine traveling through time into your future – 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years…. and see yourself and your life as it will be if you don’t make the changes you need to make in your life. What have you lost? What opportunities did you miss? What does it feel like to deal with that level of pain and despondency for all those years? How bitter have you become as a result of your resentment and low self-esteem? As you move years into your hypothetical future amplifying those feels and seeing all the negative effects not changing has had on you, your loved ones and your life as a whole, a determination builds up in you like no other. When the pain is so great from being fully aware and present in how your lack of action will manifest in your life years from now, you will also find an overwhelming motivation to get in motion and start doing things differently. From that state, go back to the present and commit fully to making the changes you need to make in your life – the pain from your current path now being so great that staying there is unbearable, and moving away from it is a must. See how those changes play out in your life, and feel all the rewards, happiness and fulfilment they will bring you over the coming weeks, months and years. The more present you can be throughout this exercise, the more potent the experience will be.

This is such a powerful method for combining the power of both pain and pleasure as agents for change. It’s an experience I have personally been through, and I can tell you it was a like a roundhouse kick to the face in waking me up and getting me making the changes I needed to make in my life.

Amazing things happen when you stand up and take ownership of your choices in life – doors open that you never knew existed and everything starts to come together. Is it easy? Fuck no. Remember what this blog is about? You NEED discomfort to grow! You need pain because it is a powerful prime mover. We are all going to feel both pleasure and pain in our lives no matter what decisions we make, because we can’t get it right all the time. That being the case, we need to learn how to make the pain and pleasure we experience work to serve us and build our character.

Pain and pleasure are both wonderful teachers, and they each teach very different subjects. The lessons taught by painful experiences cannot be taught by pleasurable experiences, and vice versa. We need both to grow, and to live in harmony and balance. That can be a hard thing to accept, especially with some of the decadence and brutality we see in the World, but in accepting this we allow ourselves to take back control of our lives and our destiny.

Life doesn’t happen to you, life happens for you.

Understanding The Stock Market & Trading

The Stock Market and financial trading is probably one of the most misunderstood mechanisms on the planet. Anyone you ask will have an opinion about it, but very few actually understand what it is or how it all works.

This is a real shame, because the stock market and the various trading instruments that exist today have lowered the barrier of entry to this field monumentally in recent years, and the stock market is now accessible to pretty much everyone.

There are lots of misconceptions about the stock market, and the people who use it as a trading tool, and so it’s important that we understand the basics to be able to dispel the myths and sort the good advice from the bullshit.

So, what is the stock market?

Well, the stock market is basically a place where people trade emotions. I say that, because although the nuts and bolts of the stock market are the stocks, commodities and currency markets on one side, and the myriad of investors, retail traders and financial institutions on the other, the values of those stocks are largely based upon people’s collective emotions at any given moment. This is what you’re seeing when you seeing price action moving on the candle charts; it’s a visual representation of the mean average of the presiding emotional sentiment in the market at any given time.

So the components of the stock market are simply:

  1. Company Stocks/Shares (Apple, Facebook, Google etc.)
  2. Commodities (Gold, Silver, Platinum, Oil etc.)
  3. Currencies (FOREX – Foreign Exchange)
  4. Indices (these are collections of companies and so their value is the mean average of the value of all the companies within the index – an example would be the FTSE100, which is comprised of 100 of the top blue chip companies in the UK at any given point in time)
  5. ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds – these are funds that are a marketable security tracking an index, a commodity, bonds or a basket of assets like an index fund)
  6. Investors (companies and individuals of various sophistications buying and selling stocks and shares on the market)
  7. Financial Institutions (banks, funds, brokers, and traders buying and selling on the stock market)
  8. Retail Traders (everyone else trading stocks and shares on the market)

Looks a little complicated doesn’t it? Well, it’s really not.

In order to simplify, look at it this way – it is the same as buying and selling food at a street market where prices fluctuate over time, only in the stock market this happens at a much faster rate.

For those who take the time and make the effort to understand the mechanics of it, there is the potential for rich rewards where every day your money works for you, rather than you working for money. Financial freedom is attainable for each and every one of us, all we have to do is take the time, and make the effort, to learn the rules of the game.

It doesn’t matter if the stock market is in the middle of a strong bullish rally, or a crashing bearish descent – when you know the rules, you can make money either way.

Ever since I started learning about trading the stock market and investing I was confused as to why more people didn’t know about it, and why more people weren’t doing it. It seems to me like this is something that they should be teaching our kids in school, as it stands to return significantly more handsomely than any bank on your pot of savings – if you know what you’re doing.

And it’s really not that hard; the rules are simple – it’s having the discipline to stick to them rigidly that is the challenge for most.

I should tell you now that 90% of people who try to learn how to trade end up failing and wiping out their accounts, and this is somewhat responsible for why it has a bad name. I cannot stress enough that there is no such things as a risky trade or a risky investment – only risky traders and risky investors. Those people who don’t have the education, the cohesive plan or the experience in the markets to have the first clue about what their doing, and who are basically gambling their money on the stock market. This is why 90% of traders fail – it’s a lack of knowledge and understanding of the rules of the game.

Trading Instruments

There are various different instruments that are available to retail traders these days, all with slightly different mechanisms but all based around the same set of skills. If you can trade the stock market, then your skills should be transferable across spread betting, trading CFD’s and investing in physical stocks and shares.

The main different instruments are:

  1. CFD’s (Contracts for Difference) – these pretty much do what they say on the tin, and is the main instrument I am trading at the moment due to the versatility of the social trading platforms available. When you trade on platforms that operate on a contract for difference basis you do not own any of the underlying asset, and so do not benefit from any dividend payments. All you are doing when you open a position is taking out a contract with your chosen broker agreeing that if the price of the asset increases or decreases from a fixed entry price then either you pay your broker a set amount per pip of price movement (if the price moves against direction of your position – up or down), or your broker pays you. When you close the position, you close the contract and either ending up taking profits (if you guessed the direction of the market correctly) or closing out for a loss if you guessed incorrectly. One of the big advantages to trading instruments likes CFD’s and Spread Betting is that you can use leverage to increase your asset holding without needing to invest or tie up the total value of the asset invested. However, be warned, whereas this drastically increases your ability to make significant profits, it also drastically increases the likelihood of having a catastrophic loss that wipes out your account – proper risk management should be observed at all times when trading
  2. Spread Betting – this works in exactly the same way as CFD’s, and you’re trading the same stocks and commodities on the same charts, only the profits you make trading through this instrument are completely tax free. This is because it’s called Spread ‘Betting’ and so because it’s classed as ‘gambling’, any profits are not currently subject to UK tax. This makes it an excellent instrument for generating a residual or passive income. Both Spread Betting and CFD trading allows for very easy entry and exit from trades, powerful leverage if used correctly and guaranteed stop losses and take profits for protecting your trading equity. They both also allow for you to enter positions to profit when the markets are both falling (bearish) and rising (bullish), by either going short (selling) or long (buying)
  3. Investing in actual Stocks and Shares – this is where you actually own the underlying asset, whether that’s a share in a company or some sort of ETF. This process is subject to higher broker fees when buying and selling, and so is better suited for longer term swing trades or long term investments. This method only allows you to profit when the asset increases in value or through the repeat dividend payments – if you own shares in companies that pay dividends then you will generate a regular passive income that can be used to reinvest in more shares and add to the compounding of your wealth. The more shares you own, the more dividend you get paid, and so the compounded growth is never ending and grow like a snowball rolling down the Alps

Fundamental or Technical?

There are two different techniques when it comes to trading – fundamental analysis, and technical analysis.

Fundamental Analysis is where you look at the financial and economic data for a given asset and make your trading and investment decisions based on the results of what you find in that data. This could be company financial reports, earnings reports, or economic data such as inflation rates or political announcements. This would be the best method for discerning quality assets for long term investments, as it’s important to be able to have confidence in an investment over time by confirming that the asset in which you’re investing your hard earned money is financially sound.

Technical Analysis is where you look at the price action data on the charts. There are several different types of charts and many different methods of technical analysis, but you only need to master a few to be a successful trader – even mastering one method will return profitable results if you stick to the trading plan without deviation. This looks at historical price data on charts relating to different time frames from 1 minute up to weeks and months of price data per candle, and provides insightful information about likely areas, or zones, where the markets are likely to react from and change direction. This is where technical analysis provides numerous trading opportunities – in recognising patterns, and in understanding how the mechanics of the markets are structured.

Ultimately, you’ll probably end up favouring one over the other and this will govern how you build and execute your trading plan.

Trading Psychology

“Success is 20% mechanics, 80% psychology”

– Tony Robbins

Trading psychology is without a doubt the hardest part of trading to master. Never mind all the charts, terminology and financial data – mastering your mind, your discipline and your emotions trumps them all.

The effect a losing trade can have on our psychology can be profound, and for most is what leads to emotional trading that generates massive losses and even wipes out people’s entire trading accounts. Emotional trading is a big NO, and this is the single most important reason for having and using a detailed trading plan. Having a written plan that details exactly what your methods are, and specifies your researched and back tested criteria for entering and exiting trade positions, will remove the need to make any decisions when you have money on the line. It’s when you have money riding on an open position that your primal croc brain starts to fuck with you and allowing this to take over your thinking when trading is the beginning of the end for most traders.

You have to learn to be your own trading coach and mentor – or go out and find someone who can fulfil that role for you. The best resource I’ve come across so far that really helped me gain control of my psychology when trading and which has helped me to remove all emotional trading from my trades was the following book by Brett N. Steenbarger:

This book gave me all the tools I needed to understand the inner workings of my own psychology when it came to trading, and indeed gave me skills which transferred over into others areas of my life such as sport and business. A really excellent book, and highly recommend – in fact, it’s a must if you’re thinking of embarking on the journey of learning to become a financial trader. Without it, the risk of your emotions taking control and devastating your trading account is all too real.

The stock market, by it’s very nature, goes up and down in cycles. As I hope I’ve shown in this short blog, there are the vehicles available today that allow everyone with access to a computer, smart phone or tablet and an internet connection to trade on the financial markets. Most platforms come with free virtual trading accounts that allow you to trade the markets in the first instance with fake money. This provides the opportunity for gaining valuable experience in the stock market, watching and learning how it moves, and means you can try out new techniques, systems or adjustments to your trading plan without putting any of your hard earned capital at risk. Once you see that you are consistently generating profits over a period of several months, you can then begin trading with real equity with some degree of confidence that you know what you’re doing and have a trading system that is profitable when followed with discipline.

Everyone has the ability to be financially free by taking the time to learn this skill, and doing so is going to not only put your future in your hands, but also has the potential to return significantly on capital invested – more so than any bank or other financial institution is going to give you that’s for sure.

From Beginner to Trader

I will be running a ‘From Beginner to Trader’ course around the Oswestry/Welshpool area very soon for anyone who is interested in learning about how to trade the stock market using the instruments I’ve described in this blog. The course will take a complete beginner who knows nothing about the stock market and trading through learning the skills needed to become a profitable trader. Course material will be provided in a live training environment, and you will come away from the training session with:

  1. A solid understanding of the mechanics of how the stock market and it’s various instruments work and move
  2. A solid understand of both fundamental and technical analysis, and strategies for utilising both methods in your trading
  3. A tool box full of tried and tested technical indicators for providing high probability entry and exit points for your trades
  4. A trading plan for intra-day trading on the 5-minute time frame
  5. A trading plan for swing-day trading on the higher time frames (4 hour, daily, weekly)
  6. A trading plan for pattern trading according to price action and technical indicators, as well as a thorough understanding of what key support and resistance levels are and how to define them on your charts
  7. How to buy and sell assets tax free – both through leveraged instruments and through physical stocks and shares
  8. A road map for finding quality shares for longer term investment
  9. An understanding of the emerging crypto-currency markets and how to maximise trading profits trading these alternative currencies
  10. A risk management strategy that will stop you blowing your account and that will keep your trading equity protected by minimising your losses and maximising your profits
  11. An understanding of the importance of psychology in trading, and techniques for mastering your emotions when engaged in live trades

Financial freedom is the ultimate goal – to every day have the choice of what you do, where you do it, and who you do it with. No constraints, no limits, no worries.

The beautiful thing about that? That the more people there are in the World who have that level of freedom and choice in their lives, the more people there will be in the World who have the desire and capability to help everyone else up to that level.

I’d love to see you on my ‘From Beginner to Trader’ trading course as I know it will change the way you think about money, and it has the potential to change your life if you implement the lessons you will learn in the course. Please register your interest by completing the contact form below, and I’ll send you an e-mail with all the details including how to register: