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Peak Experience and Peak Performance

When I wrote the recent free blog book, Radical Renewal, I started with the insight that many of the problems we encounter in trading psychology are ones in which our egos become attached to short-term performance.  Once we make profit and loss a measure of our personal success and value, we introduce fear, greed, frustration, and overconfidence into our processing of markets.  To the degree that we become focused on outcomes, it becomes impossible to fully focus on sound trading process.  Too, when we are self-focused, we lose our focus on what is happening in markets.

One idea that emerged during the writing of the book is a bit different: It's not simply the presence of negative emotional experience that interferes with good trading performance, but the absence of distinctively positive experience.

The psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote about "peak experiences", which are powerful experiences of positive emotion, meaning, and purpose. In the book, I explore the idea that peak experiences are the positive equivalent of traumatic stresses.  Just as trauma is processed directly with the potential of reshaping personality, peak experiences exert a similar--but more constructive--reorganization of our experience.  Consider the "born again" experience of a religious person or the experience of falling in love.  These exercise an ongoing inspiration that gives us energy and positive emotional experience.

What supercharges our performance is a level of absorption in what we're doing that opens us to the flow state and peak experiences.  I question if we see ongoing peak performance without an engine of peak experience.  The trader's focus on negative emotion is the surest sign that flow states and peak experiencing are missing.  We achieve in any field when we discover something profound and meaningful that inspires ongoing effort.  That is the ultimate psychological edge of any entrepreneur.

Further Reading:

Radical Renewal

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