Can traders adopt the “Mentality of a Winner” or is it just for athletes and superstars?

Do you have a winning attitude? Did you know the right state of mind and a positive approach can attribute massively to your trading success? Our trader Ignatius breaks down five characteristic traits of a winner. Be inspired!


“Winning is the science of being totally prepared.”
George Allen

We have all been told to be positive before any challenge or test, “stay positive”, “think like a winner”…are some of the things that ordinary people tell us when we are about to take extraordinary feats.

Our personal experiences, however, have taught us that winning is not easy. We have told ourselves countless times that we are going to win and many times before we have learned the hard way that winning is not easy.

So if we agree that indeed winning is not easy, then why are some people able to do it consistently? We end up calling such people talented, gifted, brilliant or exceptional. We even make excuses about why we lose against such people, “he is older” or “more experienced” or “built differently” or “has more resources”.

Sometimes we are right and they are older than us or more experienced or even built differently, but that has absolutely nothing to do with why they beat us or win against us, just as our past failures had nothing to do with the strategies we employed but everything to do with our state of mind before and during the challenge.

How you respond to what happens to you is much more important than what is actually happening. How you respond is always a measure of how strong you are mentally or even how mentally prepared you were going into the test or challenge.

“Winning is really about the DECISIONS you make and the ACTIONS you take as you play the game!”
Billy Cox

High performing athletes and other sportspeople know that your state of mind before any major test could spell success or failure. If a boxer spends the final moments before a major fight moving up and down, worried that they might lose their teeth, chances are they will lose the fight and maybe even their teeth.

Similarly, if a trader begins a trading session worried that they are going to lose, chances are that the market will give them another lesson on losing. But is it really as simple as changing your mindset?

You have heard it before, “Mind over matter”. Unfortunately it’s true, winners have a winning mentality and fortunately, it is not a God or evolution ordained advantage that they will have against you forever.

If you are trading for FTMO, then the company has made the services of a performance psychologist available for all its traders. If a boxer sees a shrink and a golfer sees a shrink, then a trader too could benefit from seeing a shrink.

By availing a performance psychologist, FTMO is following in the footsteps of other benchmark companies in other industries who have realized the value of mental preparedness for high performers.

For those of you who are not trading for FTMO and have no access to a performance psychologist, there is still something that you can and should do without a shrink.

You too can develop the mentality of a winner if you adopt the character traits of a winner and turn them into habits.

So what are the five character traits of a winner?

  1. Winners want to win
“Winners Focus on Winning, Losers Focus on Winners” – Unknown

Winners are obsessed with winning, it is all they think about, it is all they plan for, it is all they talk about and it is all they dream about. Winning is all they want and therefore they are willing to do whatever it takes, within the confines of the rules of engagement.

If you want to win you need to know what the rules of engagement are, you need to understand what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do. You need to know what your strengths are and why they enable you to win so that you can constantly work to improve on them.

After the many costly lessons I learned as a forex trader, I always tell newcomers that starting on this journey, is like climbing onto a tree that bears fruits called wins. Once in a while, just like stormy weather, the unpredictable market conditions will shake the tree so hard that only those that really…really want to master the market will hold on. How bad do you want to be a winning trader?

  1. Winners always want to get better.
“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” —Babe Ruth

Winners are always on a quest for self-improvement, they want to do better than they did yesterday. Winners understand that to do better, they must prepare better than yesterday and work harder than before. Winners know what their winning edge is, they know what makes them exceptional, how they become exceptional and what it took to become exceptional. They constantly want to improve and get better.

A trader who takes his wins goes off to celebrate and returns to the market the next day without examining what they did right and what they could do better next time, will have a rude awakening one day. Such a trader might start to think that “they” are the magic formula and not the strategies that they have put in place.

You win because you are doing something right, know what that is and improve upon it.

  1. Winners learn from their mistakes and their achievements
“How much you can learn when you fail determines how far you will go into achieving your goals.” ― Roy Bennett

Winners learn from their best performances but they learn even more from their worst performances. Learning from your past mistakes requires two bold acts, firstly you must acknowledge that they are mistakes or losses or failures. Secondly, you must admit that they are yours, it was your mistake and no one else is to blame, not your opponent or your teacher or the market.

After acknowledging your loss and taking responsibility, you must ask yourself four important questions. 1. What did I do wrong? 2. What did I do right the last time that I did not do this time? 3. What could I have done differently to get a positive outcome? And 4. What am I going to do to make sure it does not happen again?

How we get through failure and how we bounce back after a defeat, is what separates the winners from the losers. In forex trading, a losing trade does not mean you are a loser, it just means you were wrong about the direction of the market. And being wrong might be a result of a mistake during your analysis before placing the bet or, as is commonly the case, you could have made a mistake of not following your own rules or even worse, it could have been a mistake of not having rules.

Acknowledge your mistakes, accept responsibility, figure out what you did wrong and what you could have done differently, and then take corrective measures to make sure you win next time. Winners blame no one and they never take a loss personally.

  1. Winners make their luck
“Luck is what we make it, not what is thrust upon us. You’ve shown initiative and it has nothing to do with luck.” – George Bellairs

Winners leave nothing to chance, they know that whatever happens to them, both good and bad, had nothing to do with chance. To winners, being lucky only means that you were better prepared than the rest, it means that you worked harder than the rest at mastering your game and that your mind frame was in a better state. You were prepared to win and that’s why those who did not prepare well enough end up calling you lucky.

We should take seriously the words of winning men and women who have taught us about luck. Men and women like Ralph Waldo Emerson who said that “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect” or Ray Kroc who said that “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Or even Oprah Winfrey who said that “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”

  1. Winners never give up, they persist through the pain 
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” ―Vince Lombardi

Never giving up does not mean that a trader should hang on to a losing bet, but it does mean that they should never stop trying to get better at what they do. You have to keep trying because you are only a failure when you stop trying to win or stop trying to better yourself.

Elvis Aaron Presley might have been born with a beautiful singing voice but he was not born a rock star. He loved music just as you love he market or maybe the money that is exchanging hands every second in the market. He listened to as much music as humanly possible, so you too should feed you mind as much knowledge about the market as humanly possible. Elvis practised playing his guitar more than other instruments relentlessly, so you too should practice and test your strategies on the market.

In the mid-fifties Elvis made music with a group recording at Sun Records, then later released a single and then an album. Everything was going well but then he was drafted into military service in 1958. Once again the future was uncertain and the dream of being a superstar could have faded, but Elvis was not a quitter. Two years later he re-launched his music career with some of his most commercially successful work.

Maybe you were given a silly hedging strategy by a friend who also had little understanding of the strategy. Maybe after considering the strategy for a while, you thought it might just work. And maybe after pondering the idea, you rushed to the market and tested on a real account. Maybe you got yourself a very important lesson on losing and now you are considering your next move.

The market usually has plenty of valuable lessons for those who are less prepared. Don’t take it personally. And don’t take the silly advice they give to gamblers… “Winners know when to quit”.

Firstly you are not a gambler, you are a trader, it is much more sophisticated than gambling. Secondly, winners never quit.

If Elvis Presley had given up, you and I would not have known who Elvis Presley was. If you give up, I will certainly never know who you are and what you are capable of.

Most importantly, if you give up, you will never know how great you could have been… The average Joe from next door, the guy who will one day successfully short the 2025 market crash and teach our children how to avoid the next one and save economies.

Trust me, you’ve got this. Happy trading, from all the winners at FTMO.

Article by Ignatius Netshirungulu, aspiring FTMO trader.