I don’t know whether you’d noticed (!) but the Rugby World Cup is in full flow at the minute.
The New Zealand All Blacks played on Sunday. Masters of the sport and the fittest team in the competition, they are a force to be reckoned with any day of the week.
And that’s before they deploy their secret weapon: the Haka.
Have you seen them perform it? The Haka is the tribal war dance thing they do at the start of every match.
It’s not just an aggressive thing. The Maori people also perform it when they welcome important visitors or celebrate special occasions. But on the sports field I think it’s fair to say they do use it as a psychological tool to psyche-up their players up and intimidate the competition. And it has caused more than a few squabbles over the years.
There was the version they used a while ago which featured a throat-slitting action accompanied by popping eyes and flopped-out tongues. That one was a bit graphic and didn’t go down too well.
And there have been various ‘challenges’ over the years put to the All Blacks while they do their dance… opposition players moving up to stand toe-to-toe in defiance, or arranging themselves in an arrowhead formation and edging closer to the New Zealand players.
Stuff like that always stirs up a bit of a row with the politically correct brigade – How dare anyone insult the heritage and culture of the Maori people!
It all came to a head in 2011 when the French team were actually fined by Rugby’s bosses for stepping up to the All Blacks while they went through the Haka routine.
What the heck?
One team is given cart-blanche to build up a massive psychological edge pre-game, yet the other team is punished when they try to neutralise the effect on their own players. Doesn’t seem right does it?
And you know what? I bet the New Zealand players themselves are not so touchy about it. I reckon they’re pleased to see their proud tradition having such a stirring effect on the opposition.
My own thoughts on the Haka in rugby? I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
It creates an electric atmosphere and sets the tone for a hard-fought match like nothing else. What a treat to see this example of national pride standing firm in the face of bland global commercialisation.
And all this kerfuffle about showing respect, and whether the other team should be allowed to move, or whether they should be made to stay rooted to the spot with trembling legs and neck hairs stood on end…
Well, that’s all just part of the package. The controversy is what makes it so good!
But my main interest here is what we can learn from rituals like the Haka, and how you might use similar tools to crank up your own performance, especially when it comes to trading. Because we all know how important mindset and psychology is to performance, don’t we!
So let’s have a look at how you might pinch a few ideas from the All Blacks.
Don’t worry, it won’t involve any weird facial contortions, and you won’t need to warn your partner about strange tribal chants coming from your study. (Unless you feel those are the things you need in your own pre-trading ritual. In that case you should go for it with no holds barred!)
Designing a personal ‘war dance’ to put you in the best frame of mind for trading
So what effect do rituals like the Haka have on the people that perform them?
It’s all a matter of state of mind. The ritual can be a doorway that takes you from one state of mind to another VERY QUICKLY.
(The elite Viking warriors – the Berserkers – also used a nifty ritual before they went into battle: they’d drum themselves into a state of hypnosis and invoke the spirits of aggressive animals until they became unstoppable shield-biting, frothing-at-the-mouth fighting machines. Rumour has it that hallucinogenic mushrooms also played a part here too, but it’s probably best to leave them out of your pre-trade routines.)
So before you sit down at your computer to trade, have a think about the frame of mind you normally find yourself in.
If you usually place your trades when you get it from work, are you still feeling the stress and pressures of the day? Or if you do your trading early in the morning is there a danger your mind is on other things – thinking about the day ahead?
If this is the case, a little ritual that quickly puts you in best state of mind for trading might be just what you need.
But as with most things, when it comes to trading, there is no one-size-fits-all. It’s best to experiment and come up with a pre-trade routine that works best for you personally.
5 ingredients for your first trading ritual
One way to create a fast mind-shift can be to engorge your senses with stimuli that evoke the right qualities. So work through your senses one by one and think how you might stimulate them with things that suggest successful trading to you
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your first ritual recipe…
1) Sight: What items could you place in your field of vision that relate to successful trading? A photo of the car of house of your dreams, i.e. the material goals you hope to achieve through your trading?
Or how about a picture of a certain person (or persons): notorious trader George Soros, a birds-eye photo of the old futures trading pits rammed with traders, a photo of a modern day trader hunched over his bank of monitors – the beauty here is that whatever image you feel would be most useful is only ever a quick Google search away!
2) Sound: What soundtrack do you think will help get you in the right mood? A bit of hard rock to raise your energy levels? Baroque to stimulate the alpha waves in your brain (and help you concentrate)? Even fuzzy white noise or one of those birdsong tracks might help. It might even be something you sing or chant yourself! Try a few different ideas and see how they each make you feel.
3) Smell: Ah, the sweet smell of success. But what does that mean for you? A particular aftershave or perfume that you could spray; the ‘new car’ aroma you could simulate with an item of leather clothing; freshly brewed coffee; or fresh cut flowers? The olfactory system – your sense of smell – can have a very powerful effect on your state of mind so have a play around and see which smells have the desired effect.
4) Taste: Doesn’t have to be anything decadent. You might build something as simple as sucking a polo mint into your trading ritual each day. Even something that straightforward and easy can help trigger your optimum trading mindset when carried out with intent.
5) Touch (or physical sensation): Again, no need to go leaping around your study in a frenzied war dance here. But what physical movements would best let your brain know that you are making the transition from an ‘everyday’ frame of mind to a totally focussed trader’s mind?
Some simple stretching or breathing exercises; a certain chair or workspace to sit in that you dedicate solely to your trading work; even a particular shirt or baseball cap that you could pull on to signal it’s time to knuckle down and trade might be the order of the day for you.
You are only limited by your imagination. Just one single action you uncover might end up being your sole pre-trade ritual, but if you can incorporate things that engage all five senses – staring at your Ferrari photo with Vivaldi playing in the background, as you sniff a leather glove and suck a mint while wearing your old Man Utd cap – as strange as it might sound – could actually be the best way to get straight into your trading groove ready for action!
Be Prepared: Market Moving Data Coming This Week (London Time)
Wednesday 23rd September
08:30 EUR German Manufacturing PMI
14:00 EUR ECB Draghi speaks
Thursday 24th September
09:00 EUR German IFO Business Climate
13:30 USD Core Durable Goods
15:00 USD New Home Sales
22:00 USD Yellen Speaks
Friday 25th September
13:30 USD Gross Domestic Product
Monday 28th September
15:00 USD Pending Home Sales
Tuesday 26th September
15:00 USD CB Consumer Confidence
I hope you enjoyed our look at pre-trade rituals today. And I’ll bet you can’t watch the All Blacks on TV in the weeks ahead without imagining yourself doing a trader’s war dance!
Until next time…
P.S. Don’t forget to nip over to the TN Facebook page here. Hit ‘like’ and leave me a quick comment if you can – tell me what you intend to include in your first pre-trade ritual.