In one of my favorite movies, a guy is trying an unconventional way to escape from the boringness of his ordinary life. He has an eye-opening experience, he has his fun, but in the end, realizes that saying Yes to everything is not the ultimate secret to happiness. There were way too many Yes Men and Women in the US Banking and Mortgage Industries; in the government too. We had our fun, we have had our bubbles. “Yes” could be a powerful word, but often “No” is a better alternative.
Apple is a huge success story because it learned that it can’t be everything for everyone.
That ability to express by omission holds a central place in Jobs’s management philosophy. As he told Fortune magazine in 2008, he’s as proud of the things Apple hasn’t done as the things it has done. “The great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products,” he said. “We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.” (Jobs sometimes says this even more bluntly: Nike CEO Mark Parker likes to recount the advice Jobs gave him shortly after Parker’s promotion to the top spot: “You make some of the best products in the world — but you also make a lot of crap. Get rid of the crappy stuff.”)
The most successful market participants are specialists. They know how to do one thing exceptionally well – one time frame, one asset class, one approach, one setup.
So how to find the balance between the Yes man in you, who wants to experience the beauty of the world around him and the No Man, who needs to focus in order to achieve something of significance. Well, you have to learn to distinguish your life as a trader from your life as a human being.
Say Yes to trying new things in your life; embrace the diversity and the variety. But when it comes to trading, be a creature of habit. Say No to investing/trading setups you don’t understand and therefore have no edge at.