Whether it’s golf or trading, it’s all about stress control. If you were sitting across the table from me and I booked a $10,000 loss, and then in the next hour I closed out a trade for a $10,000 profit, I would wager you even money that you could not tell the difference by my outward emotions.
For this reason, I immediately related to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Dr. Robert Goldberg’s research into trying to help golfers ward off the stress-induced fits of madness that they call the “yips”. The golf course is a treacherous and unforgiving place where even the world’s best players are susceptible to tortured mental states at the most inopportune times. Doesn’t this sound exactly like your trading room?!
There are actually true stories of pro golfers being hospitalized due to panic attacks. One must remember that golf – like trading – is as much about the mind as it is about the body or the data. Dr. Goldberg’s approach is promising because he utilizes a wristband that measures stress in real time by shooting small electrical charges into sweat glands. The data is then sent to an iPhone via wireless Bluetooth which displays a stress graph with peaks and valleys showing the degree of discombobulation being experienced by the golfer.
With a few caveats and some generalizations, Dr. Goldberg’s research has found that the more accomplished the golfer, the more their stress level remained static during their swing as well as during the entire round of golf. Likewise, for a trader, even a small amount of stress can cause increased heart rates and butterflies that may have a direct influence upon their buying and selling decisions. Stress is literally kryptonite to traders. Stress disrupts their equilibrium and affects their decision-making. Anything we can do to minimize the “yips” will flow directly to the bottom-line.
Dr. Goldberg’s device, known as “bandu” should hit the market in 2014. Don’t be surprised to see traders wearing this new wrist jewelry both in the trading room as well as on the golf course. I recall something Isaac Asimov once said: “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say “it’s as plain as the nose on your face”, but how much of the nose on your face can you see unless someone holds a mirror up to you?” For us traders, I believe Dr. Goldberg’s wristband could very well become our magical mirror.
Trade well; trade with discipline!
-- Gatis Roze