The below list comprises a number of different observations of myself and others through experience working with traders of all shapes and sizes, and is equally relevant to all. Some of the information is rehashed and/or might sound cliche, but here it is:
They are experienced – Probably the most horrifying and worst myth shot out to anyone considering trading for a living is that you will compound millions in an extremely short amount of time. The only true way to make every day profitable comes through experience, and countless hours learning is crucial to longevity of success.
They know the damage they are capable of – Take notice we are not talking potential or profits here. The best traders we know of understand their limits, and seem to focus more on what can go wrong than what can go right. They are not easily convinced of lucrative outcomes, and have a very high sense of self-awareness.
They trade to make money, not to be right – They understand the strengths and possible pitfalls of what it is they do for a living, and use that knowledge to curb their emotional output.
They have an edge and know how to use it – They understand that without it they wouldn’t last long
They have a gameplan, and follow it explicitly – Each trade is planned and opportunities are scouted for before any trading takes place. They steer away from the killer of all killers: overtrading.
They manage risk – Regardless of how much conviction they have on a trade, they will still do what they can to avoid the potential of any losses and understand rule #1 about trading: anything can happen.
They work obsessively – They follow each turn, each piece of info that comes out in regards to their trade, and follow any underlying information relevant to failure or success.
They only access the best information – Information rules in trading, and having some of the best translates to money. Using the wrong information leads to failure.
They think about the trade, not the money behind it – Focusing on money can destroy your means to objectively assess the trade itself.
They are constantly learning – Just when you think you know it all about trading, a new curveball gets thrown your way, not to mention there are continued means and methods to be learned about making money. Even the most highly successful trader we ever knew, a multi-billion dollar portfolio manager, has a team of fundamentalists and technicians come in to train and retrain himself and his traders.
They are active – Activity sparks creativity, a very crucial part of trading.
They have patience – They understand that the money will come, but everything needs to be in place, first.