The One Thing You Absolutely Must Have to Succeed as a Trader

by Darrin Donnelly on July 8, 2013

“Most of all, long-term success in the stock market comes from discipline, the ability to consistently execute a sound plan and refrain from self-defeating behavior.” – Mark Minervini

When I read the above quote in Mark Minervini’s new book, Trade like a Stock Market Wizard, I immediately grabbed a pen and underlined it.  That one sentence holds THE secret to success in the stock market.

And that’s not an understatement.

You see, while I’ve been an active trader for years, I’ve also been teaching and coaching other traders for the past six years.  My newsletter and coaching program started out small, but it’s now read by fund managers and independent traders all over the world.  It’s read by multimillionaires who run giant hedge funds and it’s read by independent traders who are just starting out.

I bring this up not to brag, but to point out that I regularly interact with traders of all levels.

Getting to interact with traders from so many different experience levels has taught me some important lessons along the way.  I’m able to see the most common mistakes and frustrations traders deal with, and I’m also able to see the most common success factors in the world of trading.

If I could pinpoint one single trait that separates successful traders from unsuccessful traders, it would be discipline.

Everything else that makes someone succeed in this business can be bought fairly cheaply or learned fairly simply.

I personally spend up to 12 hours a day screening, watching, and analyzing stocks, but I do that largely so that my clients don’t have to.  I run a newsletter that provides this service for those interested in the Darvas System.  If the Darvas System isn’t your thing, you can find services that will similarly do this type of grunt work for other trading systems.  The point it, you can pay someone else to do most of the “hard work” involved with trading so that you can spend your time doing other things.

I’ve also spent years studying different trading strategies, analyzing historic charts, and reading books by great traders and investors.  I do this mostly so that I can be a good teacher when it comes to all things financial, but also because I enjoy it.  But that doesn’t mean you have to put in the same amount of time and study to learn the strategy you want to implement.  Instead, you only need to read a quality book or two on your strategy of choice to get the gist of how to trade that way.

But the one thing you can’t buy, the trait you can’t pay someone else to give you is discipline.  You absolutely must have the discipline to follow your strategy and the rules it proposes.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Trading can be one of the most emotionally taxing things you ever do.  I constantly hear from traders who are frustrated for getting out too early or passing on a trade they should have entered.  “I need to learn to trust the system,” they tell me.

I’m not surprised to see Mark Minervini point to discipline as the key to success in the stock market.  Like Nicolas Darvas (my trading hero and the father of the Darvas Trading System), Mark also started with a small amount of money and turned it into millions in a very short period of time.

The bottom line is this: you can buy or acquire just about everything you need to succeed in the stock market, but the one thing you need to create for yourself is the trait of discipline.

If you don’t have the discipline to follow your system’s rules, the system itself is pretty much worthless.


Instant Access to Darvas Trader PRO* If you can’t or don’t want to spend eight hours a day analyzing stocks, let me do the work for you.  The most powerful trading system I know of is the Darvas System and you can follow this legendary system with a subscription to Darvas Trader PRO.  Each issue of Darvas Trader PRO includes our updated portfolio and watchlist of current Darvas Stocks – with EXACT buy points and sell points.  Start your 30-DAY TRIAL to Darvas Trader PRO right now and instantly receive my FREE trading course by clicking here.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam the tradergeek July 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Great article Darrin! Many times, especially in the recent frustrating markets of late, it’s easier said than done. But it’s not an excuse to not have and follow a plan.


Darrin Donnelly July 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I agree completely, thanks Sam!


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