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How to Handle a Trading Loss

By Jeff Clark
Thursday, June 5, 2008

It was the most important game of the season for us.
The game went into extra innings. We were down by one run. We had runners at second and third base. There were two outs. And Vincent stepped up to the plate.
Vincent is six years old. He is the youngest player in the league, and he is a dwarf compared to the 8-, 9- and 10-year-old ballplayers with whom he competes. But he's the best darn 6-year-old I've ever seen swing a bat.
Vincent is a key hitter in the clutch. He's come through all season long with big hits at big moments. And there was no moment bigger than this.
Any base hit would likely score both runners, and the Indians would win the game. I was already thinking about how to keep the victory celebration under control and get the kids to focus on their next game – for the championship.
But, alas, there was no joy in Mudville yesterday. The mighty Vincent struck out.
For the next several minutes as my players lined up to congratulate and shake hands with the Rockies, I tried to come up with some sort of inspirational message for the post-game pep talk. I worked alone in the dugout, cleaning up the trash and stuffing all the bats and balls and helmets back into the equipment bag. When I finally figured out what to say, I turned to call all the players back into the dugout and I noticed something extraordinary...
All of the kids from both teams were running in the infield, playing tag, kicking up dirt, tossing baseballs around to each other, and acting... well... like 8- and 9-year-old boys.
No one cared about the game. The winners and the losers had put it behind them and moved on.
And that's exactly what traders have to do when they complete a trade... move on.
A profit is great. But once it's booked, it's time to move to the next opportunity.
And losses, while an inconvenient and constant part of trading, need to be discarded in the same way an 8-year-old discards the loss of a baseball game.
Losses are part of trading. No one wins all the time. But there's a big difference between losing on a trade and then sulking for a week or two or three about the cruelty of the stock market... and merely accepting the loss for what it is – a cost of playing the game – and then moving on to the next trade.
Most traders could take a lesson from 6-year-old Vincent. He pouted for about two minutes after striking out. Then, during the craze of the post-game infield revelry, he ran up to me and said, "Hey, Coach, when's the next game? I gotta make up for that strikeout."
"There's always another game, Vincent." I said.
And there's always another trade.
Best regards and good trading,
Jeff Clark

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