When optimism is a bad thing

THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2015

What can you say when you badly burn your fingers for the seventeenth time because you thought it would be okay to take a hot pot from the stove with your bare hands? And you know you weren’t absent-minded. You know you were not in a hurry. In spite of having seen how ugly such burns can be in so many similar situations and how painful it can be, you decided to take the risk. What can you say?

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Misplaced optimism.

Optimism is usually a good thing, but speculative trading on any market is one example of many where optimism has no place.

More than that, optimism in some situations can be fatal.

This is one of those things that people simply don’t want to believe. It’s a classic case of cognitive dissonance: “Optimism is such a good thing!” they would say.

A car rolls forward to a 200-meter deep abyss. “I’m sure the car will stop before it gets to the edge” is an example of misplaced optimism – optimism that can cost you your life.

Someone grabs you in a parking lot, throws a bag over your head and pushes you into a car. “It’ll be okay once we arrive somewhere,” your optimism kicks in. When you are tied to a chair an hour later in a dark room and you are slowly tortured to death, you know – you should have kicked and scratched and fought like a possessed cat to get out of that car. Your optimism was misplaced. Your optimism is going to cost you your life.

Fact: there are situations where there is no room for optimism.

Any form of financial trading is a situation where optimism has no place. Before you turn on your computer and make your first transaction, it is of utmost importance to take your cheerful “Optimism rules!” hat off your head and replace it with your black “Pessimism’s where it’s at!” or “I’m a miserable pessimist” or “Pessimists make it to another day” hat.

Remember: Optimism when you trade can cost you 175 times your average profit in one transaction.

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