The Art of Asking the Right Questions
Note the premise of the Cooperrider quote above: our questions create our world. If you want to know--truly know--someone, find out the questions they are asking. For years, I've participated in recruitment at hedge funds, helping hire portfolio managers and members of portfolio management teams. In their interviews, many candidates want to talk about what they know. Instead, it's worthwhile probing about their questions. What answers are they seeking? Research at multiple money management organizations finds that the number one trait of successful traders is intellectual curiosity. Not discipline. Not achievement motivation. Not the ability to control emotions. What makes for greatness is the unquenchable desire to learn and know. Show me a person who isn't actively asking questions and I'll show you someone with a limited capacity to learn and develop.An important role of trading coaches is helping market participants ask the right questions. Many times, the questions we find ourselves asking are ones about ourselves: mistakes we've made, ways we can make more money. The right questions, however, are often about markets: how they are moving, what is driving them, the patterns they are displaying. The focus on trading psychology naturally leads traders to look inward, but the best questions involve the markets and the unique opportunities they are displaying. It's from new questions that we can generate fresh answers and directions. I recently began to explore rotational flows within the equity markets: which sectors and industries are strong and weak, and the degree to which they are moving together or separately. It turns out rotational days display very different opportunities from trending days and need to be traded quite differently. Focusing on what I think the market will do--and especially on what I want it to do--is a great way to blind myself to what it's actually doing in real time.What two or three things can I do today to make my day successful and fulfilling? What can I do to make the week a success, personally and professionally? What is the one change I can make in my life to improve my relationships? My energy level? My connection to my community? When we ask the right questions, we become more able to live life intentionally. Against that backdrop, the one true failure in life is to live an unquestioned--and unquestioning--life. Life on autopilot is a static life, a life that falls far short of our potential. Recently I found myself wanting to wake up earlier in the morning and get more accomplished before my usual appointments. I asked plenty of questions about how I could get myself to start my day earlier. All were the wrong questions. Eventually, the right question came to mind: What could I tackle first thing in the morning that would be so challenging, interesting, and stimulating that I would *have* to wake up early? The wrong question was about time management. The right question was about establishing the right priorities.What are the questions you're asking about your trading? Your relationships? Your life? Those questions will define the answers you find and, ultimately, they will shape the world in which you live. Further Reading:Purpose, Passion, and Why Traders FailIs Your Trading Purpose-Full? .
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