What’s with the cowboy?
>> Tom, as your course member, I have read almost every article from your website; there is a lot of technical info about what you do, and how.
My question goes somewhere else and it might be silly and offtopic, but it bugs me. Cowboying and trading - how the two go together?
Also, can you elaborate a little on your inner self - why you do your things, what your motives are, where you stand out most.
Thank you and sorry for asking such a personal stuff! <<
First off; the only silly question is the one left unasked - so don‘t worry, you did the right thing. Besides, dealing with my personal matter doesn‘t bother me, not a bit.
So. How the cowboys and traders mix together? What an excellent question!
Well, perhaps more than you might think.
Like cowboys, the traders are risk-takers, yet they are also accountable for the results they need (or wish) to deliver. Like traders who constantly make high-stakes decisions, a cowboy lays it all on the line every day. He knows that at any time, his horse can step in a hole and fall and kill him, or his cattle can get caught in a snowstorm and freeze to death.
But I want to use this intriguing question to make an entirely different point here.
And let‘s be honest.
After nearly two decades in the trading industry, I think I can tell that it runs on brains, nerve and ambition. Pretty much! This biz doesn‘t always give you ample chance to do everything from the heart. And for some of us, that‘s quite a problem.
Now, imagine – just hypothetically - how things would be if Wall Street looked back to a simpler time when a handshake was enough to seal a deal, and right and wrong were as clear as black and white. If all industry players decided that some things simply aren‘t for sale...
I mean, in today‘s world, we are so desperate after inspiration, aren‘t we? Yet good inspiration is not easy to come by. Just think about it. Whom can we look up to as our heroes today? Political leaders, sports figures, corporate CEOs, even people of the religion have not remained above greed, corruption, cynicism, and scandal.
Why on Earth do we need 30-page contracts full of small print when a handshake did it once? Shouldn‘t a man‘s word still be his bond? Don‘t we all know the ethical code that is known and googlable as the Golden Rule, and what exactly it stands for? Didn‘t we learn this ethic rule back in kindergarten?
What made us lose sight of the very things that ought to matter the most?
When I think about how I would like to be remembered, it is not as the guy who lived in a fancy house and was turning and burning bloated figures in the volatile, nonsense markets. No.
I know I‘d rather be known as the guy who wasn‘t embarrassed or affraid to speak up about issues that matter. As the guy who was able make tough decisions without looking over his shoulder or worrying what someone else will think. Who got his strength from knowing without a doubt what is right and what is wrong and being true to his beliefs.
In my so-far life, I have been fortunate enough to spend some of my time with and around cowboys (and cowgirls, too). And each and every time I hang around them, I find myself learning more and more about how life should be approached. Simple lessons, mostly, but very meaningful.
I see this as the natural culmination of my career. I feel as though everything I have ever done led me to this point.
I found my source of life-long inspiration (surprise, surprise) not on The Street... but in the real-life working cowboys. There is a sense of fairness and justice in them, and of doing the right thing. We as a society don‘t have that anymore – we have violent video games and stuff. With our materialism and self-gratification, we have people believing that there aren‘t really good guys and bad guys, and that the measure of a man is the size of his bank account.
Now when I say „cowboys“, I don’t refer to some Hollywood creation, Billy the Kid or Calamity Jane. Honestly, I am not interested in gunslingers, Indian fighters, gold prospectors or dance hall girls. To me, it is the working cowboys who are the true icons of the good Old-West. They lived their harsh life by their own set of rules. Though these rules were unspoken, among cowboys they were known and respected everywhere.
There is nothing abstract about these values. Cowboys embraced them not as a matter of religious or intellectual belief, but as a matter of day-to-day survival.
I have come to realize that anybody can make money; but it is much harder to make a difference. That‘s what I believe cowboy ethics can do. Simple ethics and a moral compass that has been passed down and tested over centuries.
People often wonder what it is about cowboys that makes them so different from the rest of today’s world, why they stand out as symbols of high values. In my view, it is because cowboys live by the code of honor and truthfulness, in the world where a man‘s word and handshake is good enough.
A true cowboy would never think of disrespecting a lady, taking the last of the water without refilling the bucket, or failing to share his last bit of food with a hungry stranger. Simply put, knowing right from wrong, following the Golden Rule, and being willing to work hard.
Okay, back to your question. Where do I think I stand apart from the crowd? While most of the population seem to me absurdly self-conscious, worrying that any little deviation from the set norms might threaten their popularity or safety... I couldn‘t care less about such behavior. I am willing to be utterly myself at every turn.
That includes my willingness to emote normally at most any occasion. So many people keep that constant fake smile on their faces, in order to hide what they‘re truly like, or I don‘t know what. I want to be trustworthy. Want to be trusted that my emotional circuitry is healthy and fully functioning, and that I can and will respond reasonably to different emotional circumstances. Cowboys don‘t fake smile.
I think I differ in yet another respect; while most of the people plodd along through their workaday worlds, I spend my days in seclusion and the privacy of my home, garden or somewhere else in beautiful nature - cooking up ideas and later trying them out and learning from them things I never dreamt of, oftentimes. And then teaching my outcomes those who appreciate it.
I love this ongoing learning/teaching process so much that nothing else I can think of makes me any happier (nothing I can do with my clothes on, that is). Do I have the best job in the world or what?!
To some people, I might seem like an odd opportunist, somebody who just doesn‘t want to pay his dues, somebody who, in their eyes, should get a 9-5 job and start making a regular living like the rest of them. But such a thing would kill my spirit. I know it, plain and simple. Clear epitome of one man‘s nightmare is another man‘s dream, I guess...
I have realized long ago, that I was fascinated by unusual and somehow I knew that I would be successful only by trying out uncommon things. I am not interested in anything mainstream and don‘t care about pursuing well-worn paths. I am not affraid to leave my notch on this wonderful world at the time when most of the people are more concerned with being „normal“ than making their own marks, as I understand it.
I want to be doing only what is worth doing. In all I endeavor, I carry my strong belief that „selling/profiting“ for its own sake – without an ethical dimension – is an empty exercise.
As my years go, I am less about business and more about the big questions that plaque all of us who want more meaning and clarity in our lives. I am into exploring the ways in which old wisdom, traditional values and creative thinking all come together to create a satisfying life.
I like to control things, take them to a reasonable limit, and make them beautiful in the process. My time is very limited here, so I better know what the highest and best use of my self is, every day. And then take my chance to live that day right, and string my days together into a life of action, and purpose. A life spent defensively and worried, is to me a life wasted.
So what is my mission here, really? I would say suggesting, pointing, hinting - perhaps even showing by example – that there is something MUCH MORE available, for those who want it.
Something that must start with a profound act of personal rebellion. A radical, fundamental, down to the root rebellion. An absolute refusal to lead a mediocre life and accept the scraps that society throws at you and says that you should thankfully enjoy. A refusal to let your personal history determine the rewards you‘re going to reap.
I say my big and loud " N O ! "
I will NOT lead a mediocre life, will NOT be held back with my personal history. I will decide the life I make. And I will do it in the way that enhances the people around me and harms noone.
You have ONE life. Are you going to live a mediocre life? Are you really going to live a life of mediocrity, where you kick yourself „Why didn‘t I do this, why couldn‘t I break free?“ A life where you envy people who have what you think you want?
We all have this choice. It’s yours to decide. You can either be squirrel food or the seed of a mighty tree. One day it will dawn on you.
Let me get truly up close and personal here, in a way I haven‘t publicly done it yet.
One of the biggest spiritual lessons of my life arrived out of the blue when my parents died unexpectedly, back in my early twenties. I saw them dying. I saw the finale of all that... lights out. I saw the shell of that dead person who used to be my parent. I never thought I would see something like that, ever. You just don‘t think that way.
And I got it. I really got it at that split second.
You better get fuckin‘ moving, Tom. Stop the resentment, stop the procrastination, stop the bullshit. Get moving, because, one day, you‘re gonna be right there!
Damn. I don‘t want to end this heavy.
Luckily, I haven‘t told you the Cowboy Code yet.
So here go my Ten Commandments; although somewhat different from the ones in the Bible, these suit to my heart and mind precisely. So I conscientiously live according to these all my life and am at ease to be confronted with them, anytime. Perhaps I‘m far more of a cowboy than a Christian, after all.
1. A cowboy never takes unfair advantage.
2. A cowboy never betrays a trust.
3. A cowboy always tells the truth.
4. A cowboy is kind to small children, to elderly, and animals.
5. A cowboy is free from racial and religious prejudice.
6. A cowboy is helpful when anyone's in trouble.
7. A cowboy is a good worker.
8. A cowboy is clean about his person and in thought, word, and deed.
9. A cowboy respects women, parents, and the laws of his country.
10. A cowboy is a patriot.
Actually, this is an abbreviated version of the Cowboy Code that legendary Gene Autry put down very clearly.
I believe this Code can offer meaningful inspiration and guidance to anyone. No need to be a cowboy per se – the one who makes a living handling cattle from the back of a horse. I consider cowboying not just a job, but more of a philosophy, a way of life.
The Cowboy Code has influenced my life. I believe, it has the potential to change anyone else’s, too.
One may feel that it doesn‘t fit our times, and it‘s true that few of us will ever be called to test our courage against perils like a raging stallion or a runaway herd of cattle. But every time we make our decision, we can ask ourselves questions like „Is it right? Is it fair?“
Because according to the Cowboy Code, there‘s right and there‘s wrong, and nothing in between.
We can all be heroes in our own lives, that‘s what
I believe in.
What a perfect moment to end my long-winded writing right here!
But one more personal thing, though.
I‘d like to dedicate this (hope not overly pathetic!) article - including all its space between the lines -
to Galina, a wise friend of mine in good times and in bad.
Thanks for your time and Good Luck everyone!
Posted: March 18, 2012
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