Investing & Day Trading Education:  Day Trading Academy

What Do All Successful Traders Share?

I recently had the privilege of going to our annual seminar to learn and meet students and teachers alike who have all had a tremendous impact in my own personal journey of making day trading my profession.

Upon coming home and digesting all the great information I received I pondered on how I got here.

Along this endless journey to be the best we can be at our profession I always look back and try to assess what was valuable and what wasn’t to try to simplify and convey it to the next student and for my own personal growth.

It wasn’t until I finally got home that I realized what I think is the most detrimental foundation for all traders in their quest for freedom.

Jim Nikolia Marcello Manny

From left to right; Nikolai, Marcello, Jim, Manny

While with my family DTA members I asked a few Master Traders (Marcello, and Nikolai) how they personally changed during their own journeys becoming traders and with some thought they came up with qualities like patience, stamina, and things along that nature.  Additionally, during the seminar Manny (another Master Trader) talked about the Military Training in Medellin, Colombia, when the Master Traders (Nikolai and Manny) were trading live in one room and the students in the other while Marcello lead the student class.

He said the Master Traders OWNED the market knowing exactly what they’re doing, waiting patiently, and executing their decisions decisively.  I also talked with a few students starting to practice consistency and they all had similar answers ranging from harnessing emotions, simplifying things, putting limits, etc.

After consolidating the mass of responses I then thought about my own journey and what changed for myself.  Learning how to trade was undoubtedly the most impactful chosen path filled with a roller coaster of emotions, gains, losses, and what ultimately led to personal growth and freedom.

I hear and see students and fellow traders make the decision to pursue trading with a multitude of those same or similar emotions and sacrifices.  So many times I’ve gotten responses of “man, I blew my account”, or “I made money live!”, and “ahhh!, I can’t figure this out”, to “I’m the best at choosing every losing trade!”, and the list goes on and on.  I’m not here to paint a pretty picture of learning to trade professionally as being easy because it’s not.   I made the above statements more than once with a plethora more.  I’ve blown my accounts, quit my jobs, went back to my job, and came back again multiple times before I resembled a consistently profitable trader.  A bit of a phenomena also happened along the way as well while on my quest for freedom.

I found out what I needed to finally get there. 

So back to our original topic, what is it that creates and shapes people to be able to be professional?  What is it that allows us to get our butts kicked emotionally, physically, and financially while learning this and reach that point AND stay there?

One word:  Control

You’re the captain of your own ship however ignorant or skilled in your quest to find that far off destination personifying freedom and success.  You’ll experience your storms, sinking your ship, being stranded, rebuilding your ship, and if you can keep in control you’ll become skilled in navigation, knowledgeable of environments, confident, and tough as nails.  What separates the successful from those who aren’t is control.  When you want to throw your computer out the window and you feel completely lost in this mess of variables, you keep your calm because you’re in control.

When you blow your account the third time, have to go get a job, and at the end of the day come home with a smile for you family you’re in control.

When you’re executing your trading strategy with increased contract load unfaltering with emotions, you’re in control.

Most people think you’re only in control when things aren’t blowing up around you and you know what to do, but from my experience and from what I see from those around me it’s just not letting go so you can react when that opportunity does finally present itself.

We all have a breaking point.  I, Dr. Z, still become emotionally effected when I enter trades some times.

I still feel my heart beating in my ears and doubt knocking on the back door of my mind, and though there may be a hurricane of feelings trying to break loose I’ll keep my cool and hold that door closed because I control this ship.

That weight fades slowly as you exercise control but until that time you remain steadfast.

There are many lures of chaos and there’s nothing fair about it.  It’s not about your personal comparison to others plights and success or the relentless longevity of feeling lost for so long.  There’s unlimited reasons why you can’t be successful and as long as you’re pulled to them you’ll never find where you are and where you should be going.   Being in control is burdensome because you have to exercise the things that are the hardest like patience, tolerance, and forgiveness (yes, forgiveness.  See how many dumb trades you make before you break).  BUT, if you decide to handle this weight and develop these strengths you’ll be able to accomplish and experience some incredible things.

So for those ready to make that voyage, gather your wits and ready for the unknown.

To my comrades already here, I salute you.  

AND for my fellow traders lost at sea, stand fast and keep your eye on the horizon because we’ll continue to keep the beacon lit.

Remain in control and we’ll see you soon.


  1. Great article Dr. Z. My worst times, whether trading from home or on the floor, where when I wasn’t in control…both psychologically and in my actual approach to the market (and of course they are linked). We can’t control the market, but we can control what we do it in. In bad times I am worried missing trades or losing money, so I jump in earlier, or get out sooner than what my method indicates. These problems begin with psychology, but when losses (or lack or profits) continue, more psychological issues kick in. The tendency is to go on “tilt” and try to force trades on the market…and of course it is downward spiral. Control is the way out…I let trades come to me…only taking trades that meet my specific trade criteria and suit the market conditions and structure. When in that “zone” it makes for great trading.

    1. Hey Cory, thanks for reading. We’ve all been there, you’re absolutely right, it’s all about self control!

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