It always bothered me how we teach kids to say they’re sorry. No matter what they did, big or small, force them to say words they don’t understand, or don’t mean, and mumble them to another kid, only to turn around and do the same behavior again two minutes later. So when I became a parent to young kids, I was determined to teach my kids to say sorry meaningfully. So rather than say “I’m sorry”, the kids would have to say “I’m sorry for (insert thing they did wrong), and my intentions are not to do it again”. Yes, I had my 3 year olds saying the word intention. The purpose of the exercise was to make sure they understand what they are actually saying sorry for, what they did wrong, and force them to be introspective about it. When they were little I’d point out what they did wrong, and then as they grew older I’d prompt them, then finally let them figure it out for themselves.
Interestingly, what I thought they did wrong, and what they thought they did wrong didn’t always line up. Picture something like “I’m sorry that you found out the truth about how ugly you are” rather than "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings”. But kids speak the truth better than anyone. When we review our trades, when we make our choices in life, when we review our mistakes, and even our successes, the way we view them doesn't always match up with how others see them, or how we would see it if we dug deeper. If the apologizing child doesn’t understand what’s wrong with calling someone ugly is, then further discussion and introspection is required. Put yourself in their shoes, how does it make you feel, do you think it’s appropriate to knowingly make someone feel that way etc. until they can come to a helpful conclusion. It doesn’t make the initial apology wrong, rather unhelpful.
Upon reviewing, entering or exiting trades. We must separate the difference between an ugly trade, and a deeper issue. If we execute on emotion, enter on FOMO, hold the bags on hope, then further introspection is required. Why do we want to make ourselves feel this way, why have we not learned the lessons of the past, what are we still missing? These are the times where it is reasonable to be upset with oneself, to take a break, to really introspect on what we’re doing. If we executed well, stuck to our plan, and it went awry, it’s important not to linger on it. Perhaps this trade was just really ugly, and the markets let us know that, even if it hurts our feelings. We can tick the notes for the next trade, hey this setup failed this time because x,y, and move on.
And my intention is not to do it again. The most important part of the apology. This is where we build trust and show true contrition and learning. If we continue to do it again, we show we are untrustworthy, that we haven’t learned the lessons, that we need further introspection. We need to learn why we react this way. Because the consequences are being untrustworthy, others putting up boundaries, people not wanting to play with us again. And the same goes through for the market. Every trade is an opportunity to become someone we trust, or don’t trust. To learn a lesson, or to repeat one. We will still make mistakes, we will still fall into traps, we will always be striving to be better, and never be perfect. But we can figure out what we did wrong, why we did it wrong, and then make sure that our intentions are not to do it again.
Author’s note: My kids pretty much hate saying “I’m sorry”. I think the introspection, and then understanding they hurt someone doesn’t feel good for them at all. The real work is really hard.