A few words on hard work, talent, persistence & success (for an 18-year-old)

nephews drawing

My nephew asked me for advice a couple of days ago. Thinking about what advice to give him, I figured that the ‘answer’ could be useful to a lot of people.  It’s one of those things that everyone is bound to know or heard of, but it never hurts to have a reminder of it, as knowing about it, and actually doing it, are two quite different things.

Thus, this is not going to be a trading-specific blog post but it can well be applied in a trading context. And the question could equally have been asked by any adult.

Here’s the situation and the advice….

The situation…

My nephew loves to draw.  His passion began several years ago and he seems very good at it.  Since he started his full-time apprenticeship he has had less time to draw.  Nowadays he keeps on wanting to draw in the evenings or on the weekends, but he can’t seem to get around to do it. And when he does he is plagued by his own thoughts telling him that his drawings aren’t very good, that he is not getting better and that he is not spending enough time drawing.

This seems ironic and obviously self-destructive to any observer.  But don’t many of us fall into this type of trap?

My advice…

Volumes have been written on these matters and it has been researched extensively.  I am presuming that my nephew doesn’t want to study his way through several self-help books to find the answer.  Well, I can provide my version of the answer that is partly based on things I have read, and partly based on experiences I have made myself.

Whom are you feeding? Whomever you feed more is the one who is likely to win – if you continue drawing, you will get better at drawing – if you don’t draw then you won’t get better – if you talk yourself down then you are hurting yourself – be your own best friend, not your own worst enemy.

Pay-off is not immediate – sometimes you won’t instantly get feedback on your progress. That’s normal.  Believe in the law of hard work – if you put in the effort in the right places, then you are more likely to eventually get the results.

Progress is not linear but moves in waves – but the trend is steadily rising.  If you continue going for long enough, with focused efforts in the right direction, then you are likely to make significant progress over longer periods of time.

Consistent effort – For that reason, it’s important to be consistent in applying effort and hard work.  It’s easy to be motivated when progress is fast and all is exciting.  The crucial test is whether you continue working when progress does not appear evident and when motivation is low.

I learned all the above some years ago whilst I trained hard for long-distance inline skating races.  My training preparation for key races lasted 6-8 months.  Trust me, there were many training sessions in which I felt weak and slow, where my technique seemed poor, when the weather was cold and wet, when I had nobody to train with.  But one training session after another I kept up the effort, and over time my high points got higher and my low points also got higher.  The key was to keep training (under the guidance of a qualified coach) even when the going seemed tough.

Talent & Hard Work – It helps to have talent for something.  You will progress far more quickly than people who don’t have talent in drawing.  But in the end progress is determined not by talent alone, but also by hard work.  Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods both had excellent talent in basketball and golf respectively – but they also worked incredibly hard.  These are extreme examples but the principles still hold true.  Talent and Hard work are required – but the final result is obtained by multiplying the two together.

There are no guarantees…

All of points are plays on probability – there is no guarantee of results just because you put in the effort and the planning.  But results are more likely to happen if you put in the effort.

Look for others to help you….

All that said, it pays to look out for individuals who are further along the track then you are, to guide you and to help you technically (be that drawing, currency trading or whatever!) – individuals that are happy to help you along and want you to succeed – be they parents, uncles, mentors, coaches or buddies.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you and help you and avoid people who, in a non-constructive manner, tell you it can’t be done.

Hope that helps.

Your uncle.


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