I write this week’s column from the jungles of Laos. I always wanted to be one of those foreign correspondents who sits down at a remote bar, surrounded by tropical pakm trees under a wooden fan, served a Singapore Sling (non-alcoholic) with his white cotton top drenched through with sweat as the humidity soaks the skin and clothes. And so it has happened.
There is a book called ‘The Man Who Sold His Ferrari and Became a Monk’. Today I crossed the mighty Mekong river, to a secluded monastery where I was taught by Buddhist monks how to meditate. What does this all have to do with finance? Everything.
When I wrote my first book, The Mind of a Trader, about the psychology of success in making money through trading and business, as with all my books it began with a dedication and quote from the Hindu Scriptures. The reason was in the recommended reading I said the most appropriate book for success in trading is the Bhagavad Gita.
Since I wrote that in 1997, courses and books have sprung up around the US on the management teachings and lessons from the Gita for finance and business.
Summer is a good time to recharge your investment abilities. The key is mental control. That is what meditation is about. The ability to focus, without swerving. The serenity and power that comes from that was shown in the faces of each of the monks. I have never seen that except in the face of billionaires. The knowledge that all is in control. All is as it should be and nothing can cause them to lose balance, not their bodies, not the environment, not the markets (in the case of the business persons!).
Success in trading and investing is about being able to focus on what should be done, has to be done, and that is pre-determined, with certainty – almost knowing it has already been written and done (in your plan before you entered the trade), a little like for monks who know all is written in the plan of Karma – ours is but to act it out. And so it says in the Gita.
I am not stretching a point on this hot humid night in order to meet a word count. This is truly how it is. The irony is, get it right and be like a monk in your trading and focus on when to act and not act, which is so much what the Gita itself is about, and you will have the Ferraris to give away.
As I cycled along the Mekong river this evening I was reminded of one of the greatest British traders – a man called ‘Sugar’ – he was Japanese and a FX trader at Salmon Brothers in London and was known for cycling around the trading floor on a bicycle. The monks taught me mediation does not mean being still and cross legged, but also in motion. It is deliberate focus. So I look forward to getting my Ferrari back!