Let’s continue to explore the benefits of our educational programs at the Van Tharp Institute in this final series installment.
Benefit 28: Understand the Impact of Market Type
When you apply systems thinking to the market, there are three primary systems that influence your trading success. Those three systems are your trading system itself; your beliefs about the market and how it works; and the market type itself. These are shown in the diagram featured. For you to successfully trade, you must have a system that fits you (your beliefs, your goals, your objectives, etc.). In addition, you must have a system that fits the current market type.
We believe there are six primary market types—up, down, and sideways, each under volatile and quiet conditions. One of the primary Tharp Think Beliefs is that it’s very easy to design a great system for any one market type, but it’s unrealistic to expect that system to work in all market types.
Now, consider that if you had a system for each market type. Each of those systems would have to fit you. Also, the market type can be defined differently in different time frames (i.e., another systems-thinking perspective for trading). Can you begin to see how complex this topic can be? Believe it or not, most advisors don’t even think about the impact of market type.
Here is a list of all of the systems that help you enter into trading well.
- You as a system.
- Market type.
- Your trading system and all its components.
- Your time frame for trading.
- Position sizing to meet your objectives.
- Your underlying base currency.
- Factors that influence the market environment (i.e., Covid-19 and government intervention). These could also be the fundamentals behind your particular investment vehicle.
- The regulatory environment.
- Ease of trading as determined by market manipulation, taxes, the opportunity to trade, or the government’s perception of traders/investors.
- Power games by governments, big companies, the wealthiest individuals, and investment banks.
- The Universal Human Game. This is the idea that there is a way things should be. If things aren’t that way, then something is wrong with it, you, me, or others, and the problem needs to be fixed.
Systems thinking, as it pertains to the market, is discussed in three of our workshops – How to Develop Winning Trading Systems That Fit You, Systems Thinking, and How Big Money Trades. It’s also covered in our e-Learning course, Trading Genius. If you can find this topic discussed elsewhere, please let me know.
Benefit 29: Access to Top Notch Coaches, With Great Systems, Who Will Help You Master Them
We have three coaches who teach technical workshops exclusively through the Van Tharp Institute and who also offer private coaching and workshops—Chuck Whitman, Ken Long, and Gabriel Grammatidis. All three coaches are well versed in our principles and concepts.
Here is what students have to say about their instructors.
Chuck Whitman ran one of the biggest option-making firms in the world and teaches options in several of his courses. Here is a comment from one options student:
“Since I just recently started with options trading, I was able to gain a lot of new insights into the subject in the course, like: 1. a wide variety of option strategies with their characteristics and trade examples to have a larger toolbox for trading 2. Volatility: measures, environments, expectations and how to trade volatility vs. direction – never thought about volatility that much. 3. option metamorphosis – how to adjust a trade as it unfolds to meet my trade objective 4. Matrix of Vertical Spreads, plus High Win % vs. Large R 5. Understanding Put-Call Parity.”
“Good understanding of low-risk high probability trading method with simple rules which do not deviate trader by trader. Wait for the less volatile market to start moving was opposite from what I used to adopted as one of the requirements to enter trades. Much lower time frame to trade but not scalping is another trade method I can manage, while I was a daily candle trader who had a belief that trading less than a daily time frame was inefficient. This is one big change to my belief. The workshop included extensive reasons why the three systems were created and why they work. By doing so, I feel far more comfortable to adopt the three systems into my arsenals. Having like-minded people to ask questions and volunteer to analyze the charts are actually far more beneficial than one-on-one mentoring because I get to see many more different views and thoughts.”
Ken Long instructs live workshops and eLearning courses with us and teaches what he calls hybrid trading in his new workshops. Here is a comment on Ken’s courses.
“First, thank you. You all have given me more lessons than I can count and I am sure I have yet to recognize many of them as I evolve. Ken is a renaissance man. He has developed a number of trading systems, which I would say is one of the least important parts of this course of study. Ken would say that is the part where he gives you a ‘fish’. Learning to ‘fish’ is really the key part of this experience for me. Ken uses his storytelling ability and a rich set of nominalizations like ‘The Dragon’ BB(0.5,10) swims in ‘The River’ BB(1,30), and ‘The Herd’ price bars as a way to convey his beliefs that he finds useful in profitably trading the markets.
Ultimately, Ken is sharing a toolbox of systems, mechanical and discretionary, a statistically based evaluation of various trading instruments, a rich storytelling method of teaching, practical exercises to develop analytic skills, psychological skills, and belief awareness. Ken blends the quest for ‘operational excellence’, the need to align purpose with activity, and teaching by focused participation. For Ken, being a successful teacher is accomplished when the student can successfully teach another person how to complete the lesson without Ken being present.
Since we can only trade our beliefs, knowing them is a requirement for successful trading. Ken is challenging me to create my house of trading – his model for a business plan. To figure out my big ‘why’ so that doing the work is aligned with my purpose. To reframe my experience from ‘it’s hard’ to ‘it energizes me’. I find the contrasts and correlations between VTI teachings and Ken’s teachings to be very powerful and mutually reinforcing for me. I rarely give testimonials because they only represent my experience and your mileage will vary.”
Benefit 30: Gain a Huge Edge in the Cryptocurrency Market While the Opportunity is Still Available
In our Peak Performance 101 workshop, we play a trading game in which there is a huge edge that could bankrupt any casino. People play the game thinking “This is a terrible system that I’d never trade in real life.” They totally miss the huge edge. Even though I always debrief students on the edge, when they play the game again, they often miss it again.
Some of the greatest traders in the world found some kind of huge edge and were able to capitalize on it. Here are some examples:
Ed Seykota was the first computerized trend follower who understood “market’s money” position sizing. In fact, his trading programs were all written in assembly language. He started trading commodities in an era of huge inflation and once his system hit, it just took off.
John Templeton took his entire fortune and put in on shorting the dot com stocks in 1999. I originally thought this was crazy because there was such huge volatility, but Templeton only shorted stock the day before the original IPO investors were allowed to exit their positions.
There were a half-dozen or so investors who went all-in shorting bad debt during the 2007-2008 financial meltdown. These investors are the subjects in the movie The Big Short. There was huge pressure to get out of those positions early as Big Money wanted to support the debt instruments. But if you could stand the pressure (and many couldn’t), you would have made a fortune.
Today’s big play is the biggest institutional revolution since the Industrial Revolution—cryptocurrencies. Very early in the Super Trader Program (after passing the first three Super Trader Foundation lessons) I give my students access to the Super Trader Bitcoin System. That system has produced 12 trades since 2011. It turned $1,000 into $9.37M. 75% trades are profitable and the average gain per trade is 179%. As of this writing, it’s just entered the 13th trade. It did so on the close of Saturday, August 7th, when the price hit $42,238.27.
Benefit 31: Learn How You Think, So You Can Effectively Determine What Works, How to Make Effective Decisions, and How to Motivate Yourself When Needed
I got an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in biological psychology. My primary interest was how did successful people think and how could I model them. But my degrees were obtained in 1968 and 1975, respectively. This was during the age of behaviorism and thinking was considered a taboo topic because it couldn’t be measured. Thus, it wasn’t until I started learning Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) in the late 1970s to 1990s, that I really understood how people think.
We have five primary senses—vision, hearing, feeling, taste, and smell. We also think in terms of those modalities—internal feelings, internal dialogue, internal sounds, internal smells, and internal tastes. Those modes can be something you create or something you remember when it re-presents itself to you. The way we organize these thinking processes is called a mental strategy. Furthermore, the way you put the strategy together, just like a cooking recipe, can produce something that is useful (tasty) or something that’s not useful (tastes bad).
This sequence must be exact for it to be efficient. But let’s change the strategy to what some people often do in their minds. What would happen if you saw and remembered the signal and then asked yourself what could go wrong? NLP would call this an auditory digital internal signal. Could you get a good feeling if you asked that question? No, of course not! What you’d be doing is imagining (Visual internal constructed – Vic) all of the things that could go wrong. How many issues you construct would be up to you, but they would not lead to feeling good so it might take you a long time to actually take the trade. Perhaps, you’d miss the trade entirely. By now you should be able to see the power of having useful mental strategies. This is a task-specific strategy for one of the major tasks of trading that we teach in Peak Performance 101.
We also teach a workshop called Peak Performance 204: Modeling Great Trading Through Mental Strategies in which we detail eight different types of mental strategies and focus on those that are most important to trading. The eight strategies are listed below and the first four are critical to trading.
Convincer Strategies—how you become convinced that a trading system works.
Decision-Making Strategies—how you decide that a trading system fits you.
Motivation Strategies (also given in my new Moti-Maps book)—how you motivate yourself to do something.
The rest are just strategies identified by some of the NLP creators.
Learning Strategies—the NLP spelling strategy.
Memory Strategies—the Photoreading strategy.
Creative Strategies—the Disney creative process.
Reality Strategies—how you know if something is “real” or made up.
One of the keys to understanding strategies is knowing both the modalities and the details of each modality. It is through the details that the strategy gets its result. For example, a picture might be one you see through your own eye, that’s centered, close, colorful, and bright and those details might be what motivates you or causes you to make a decision. That means that nothing is really objective. Even if you rely on numbers (i.e., The system Quality Number® of a trading system), it still won’t get you to decide to use the system until the details you perceive inside the strategy cause you to do so.
We discuss mental strategies for the tasks of trading in the Peak Performance 101 workshop. We then discuss them in much more detail in Peak Performance 204. They are also covered in volume 5 of the Peak Performance Home Study Course for Traders and Investors and there is a Super Trader Professional lesson on the topic. I decided to include mental strategies as a workshop in our curriculum when one of my Super Trader Awakening students suddenly said he couldn’t find a system that works or that fits him. That was shocking to me because so many great systems are taught in our technical curriculum.
Benefit 32: Understand the Difference Between a Karma Teacher and a Spiritual/Awareness Teacher
The people who are closest to you in life are your Karma Teachers. What this means is that you, in some way, become attracted to the people who will push your buttons the most. For example, I was married to my ex-wife for 24 years. She pushed several of my buttons in a major way and I was conflicted when I left the marriage over whether I should stay and clear up the issues or just leave. There were five major issues of mine that she continually pressed. I left because I was convinced that I couldn’t continue with my business if I stayed married to her.
When I got married again, I was convinced that there were no real similarities between the two women. So, if any of the five issues showed up, I would know they were definitely my issues. Interestingly, three of the issues showed up within the first six months of our marriage. The fourth one showed up about two years later, and the fifth one briefly surfaced after about 25 years of marriage. They were all me.
When I got married, I was a fairly skilled at NLP clearing. My new bride had all sorts of issues with her father and I was sure that if I didn’t clear them out, they would all be projected onto me. I think I cleared many of them but not all of them. Furthermore, those that I couldn’t get out were later projected onto me. My bride became my Karma Teacher, pressing my buttons, and I became hers.
Our life was interesting because I saw some of my wife’s core issues, and I was always trying to help her clear them out. She became a master practitioner of NLP. She cleared Core Transformation with me from Connierae Andreas, but the issues still remained. Later, she went to Oneness University in India with me and started to become awakened, but again, some of the core issues still remained. I so wanted her to be happier. There is an old saying – Happy Wife, Happy Life – and I believed that.
Finally, she got really upset with me and said, “Stop it. You think I’m broken, and I’m not, so just stop trying to fix me.” Suddenly I understood that she was right. I was projecting some of my issues onto her and trying to fix her.
Unconditional love means that you see God in the other person. And at that point, I decided to see her as perfect and accept her just as she was. That decision was monumental because suddenly she became so much happier and peaceful and most of those old issues just disappeared. Thus, I could begin to see that it was all me, using my wife as a Karma Teacher.
Now, what is the difference between a Karma teacher and a Spiritual Teacher?
A Spiritual Teacher is what I try to be with all of my Super Trader students. I take them through exercises and help them discover their own issues so that they can clear them out. Generally, I do a good job of that. But occasionally, I become a Karma Teacher even for my Super Trader students. What happens is that through my questions, I sometimes press buttons instead of getting them to go inside of themselves. When that happens, I become a Karma Teacher. Whatever they are resisting, they immediately project onto me, and then their issue has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.
So let me summarize. When you are attracted to someone and they become family, you find that you are attracted to them because they perhaps have qualities that you lack. However, soon you find that they become easy targets for projecting your issues. You don’t have the issues – they simply become someone who is doing things to press your buttons and it’s that person’s fault.
A Spiritual Teacher is someone you might be attracted to because of their level of consciousness. Their job is to help you recognize your issues and successfully clear them out.
I think you can now begin to understand projection and Karma Teachers from our Peak 203 workshop (happiness workshop). However, I think this topic is very hard to get until you achieve a level of awakening in your life, such as through ST-Awakening.
Benefit 33: Understand and Work With Shadow Parts
This is similar to benefit 32. Let’s assume that your experience is all an illusion. It’s all going on inside of you. However, if you really understand this, it also means that all the negative stuff you experience in the universe is coming out of you. Carl Jung originated the idea of a shadow which contained all the parts of yourself that you have tried to deny or hide. You have the idea that there is something wrong with me. I’m not okay, lovable, deserving, or worthy. But you suppress these ideas and then see these problems in other people
“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly.” —Debbie Ford
Here are some examples:
- A New York Governor and Attorney General who led a fight against prostitution, and then was found to have personally spent over $80,000 on prostitutes during the same time period.
- An Evangelist who rallied people against homosexual behavior and then was found to be in a homosexual relationship.
- A Catholic Priest who preached against the sins of the flesh that then was found to have sexually abused numerous young boys.
- A person who runs a pornography site who anonymously led millions of people to believe that most Democrats were involved in sex trafficking and devil worship cults.
All of those are public examples of people with strong shadow parts. You can probably think of many such examples.
You can learn more about shadow parts from Debbie Ford’s famous book, See the Dark Side of Light Chasers. New York: Riverhead Books, 2010.
She also has an excellent DVD called The Shadow Effect. https://store.debbieford.com/product_info.php?cPath=17_5&products_id=16
We teach shadow parts in “The Happiness Workshop”, Peak Performance 203: Avoiding Self-Sabotage by Following Your Bliss.
In addition, you are asked to examine shadow parts and their beliefs in Lesson 2 of Super Trader Awakening.
Benefit 34: Confront Your Issues With Any Significant Person in Your Life So That You Can Foster a Great Relationship With Them
You can also discover shadow parts when you exercise the work of Byron Katie. She has what she calls a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet (JYN) which you complete in regards to someone with whom you are upset. Example: I’m angry at Bill because he did that.
On the JYN worksheet, you make a number of comments about that person and typically arrive at about six negative beliefs. When you finish the worksheet, you then examine each belief through a One Belief at a Time (OBAT) worksheet. What I love about the whole process is that when you do enough of these (just as we discussed in our section on Karma teachers), you begin to see that it is all you.
For an excellent example of this, I strongly recommend you watch Byron Katie’s video entitled “White People are Scary.” It now has a different title (Byron Katie on Racism and Prejudice) and you can watch the whole video at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBQ8SPlDOVo. When you watch this video, it’s obvious how much the subject is projecting all of her issues. The trick is to see it yourself and that’s why I love Byron Katie’s work.
Here are more resources for the work of Byron Katie.
1) Her website: https://thework.com
2) Byron Katie Zoom events—available through her website
3) Her small book, Loving What Is by, Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell
4) And one of my favorites, which shows you the mind of an enlightened person, called A Thousand Names for Joy by, Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell
We cover The Work in our Happiness Workshop, Peak Performance 203.
In addition, Super Trader Awakening lesson #6 has a requirement that our students do about 50 JYN worksheets, with the objective of understanding that you create your own experience. It’s not them. It’s you.
Benefit 35: Start Giving and Receiving Spiritual Blessings to Speed Up Your Rise in Consciousness
When you receive Divine Energy (Grace), it really speeds up the process of becoming more aware. I became a Oneness Blessing Giver in 2008 and started giving blessings in our workshops. Transformations then seemed to start moving more rapidly.
In 2010, I became a Oneness trainer and I was allowed to produce Oneness Blessing Givers. As a result, most of our Super Trader students also became Blessing Givers. When we held in-person workshops, especially those designed to help people become more aware, we’d do optional blessing exercises at the end of each day. All the Blessing Givers would give a blessing to all who were willing to stay.
Giving a blessing and receiving a blessing are pretty much equivalent in terms of the impact produced. So, let’s say we had 30 people in the class and 25 stayed for the blessing. Let’s also say that 20 of the 25 people who stayed were Blessing Givers. Thus, if you were a Blessing Giver and gave 24 blessings (to everyone but yourself) and then received a blessing from the other 19 blessing givers, then you just had the experience of 43 blessings.
Now let’s say the workshop runs for three days. If so, then over the three days you’d give/receive a total of 129 blessings. Instances, where we held three workshops in a row, would then add up to about 387 blessings. The net result would be a huge increase in awareness.
With Covid-19 and the move to Zoom workshops, we can’t do hands-on blessings. But we can still do remote blessings. We can also do intention blessings via Zoom. In addition, my friend Patricia Keel has connections with Oneness University and can tell you how to become a Blessing Giver remotely. Visit patriciakeel.com for more information.
Starting in October we plan to begin online Blessing Giver events through Zoom. These will be available once a month for our Super Traders and for anyone else who is a Blessing Giver. Like before, all blessings given and received are pretty much the same. We could have 50 plus Blessing Givers. One monthly session could be worth almost 100 blessings.
Benefit 36: Learn About the 10 Great Spiritual Illusions That Bring About Our Limitations
Out of Communion with God by, Neal Donald Walsh comes ten great illusions that might produce great limitations in how we lead our lives.
1. God has an agenda. (NEED EXISTS)
2. The outcome of life is in doubt. (FAILURE EXISTS)
3. You are separate from God. (SEPARATENESS EXISTS)
4. There is not enough. (INSUFFICIENCY EXISTS)
5. There is something you have to do. (REQUIREMENT EXISTS)
6. If you do not do it, you will be punished. (PUNISHMENT EXISTS)
7. The punishment is everlasting damnation. (CONDEMNATION EXISTS)
8. Love is, therefore, conditional. (CONDITIONALITY EXISTS)
9. Knowing and meeting the conditions renders you superior. (SUPERIORITY EXISTS)
10. You do not know that these are illusions. (IGNORANCE EXISTS)
We’ve developed an exercise in which you use these illusions in our Advanced Peak Performance Workshop, Peak Performance 202: The Trader Reinvention Workshop.
Exercise Example: I’m having trouble becoming a successful trader.
I need to be successful.
I’ve failed at trading successfully. Ever doing so is in doubt.
I’m not one with the markets or the rest of the universe.
There’s only so much profit possible; some people have to lose.
There are some things I have to learn and do to be successful.
I haven’t met those requirements, so I’m being punished.
I am a loser (and God doesn’t love me).
I haven’t met the requirements so I’m not lovable or capable of being successful.
Successful traders have passed the test and are superior.
I don’t really know any of this (or anything).
This is a great exercise to seeing the illusion in any problem that you might come up with and it’s an important part of Peak 202. However, I’ve just given you the exercise.
Benefit 37: Start Living a Life That is Full of Miracles
During exercise 3 of Super Trader Awakening, The Life Review, I ask people to come up with miracles that happen in their lives each year. This helps people get out of victim mode and see the perfection of the what is.
For example, when Covid-19 first started spreading and we couldn’t hold our on-site workshops, I thought the company might fold. Instead, all sorts of things happened which permanently changed how we do business and we doubled our income in the next 12 months. It seemed like it would be a disaster but it was a miracle instead.
In my book, Trading Beyond the Matrix, I listed a few of the miracles that happened when I started this business in the early 1980s. Here are the first five examples taken from that book.
Obvious Miracles That Have Happened During My Journey
M1: I realize there might be a God other than the one I rejected.
M2: Major changes occur as a result of taking A Course in Miracles (actually many miracles).
M3: I’m told I’ll have to give up all my important relationships, and it happens. My journey would not have been possible without that occurring.
M4: My business is formed with the purpose of transformation through a trading metaphor. This was actually many, many miracles because I knew nothing about running a business, and somehow it has survived 40 years, even through many mistakes.
M5: After A Course in Miracles, I have a form of Internal Guidance; a feeling will come and tell me that I must do something.
This benefit is part of lesson 3 of Super Trader Awakening, but here I’ve already shown you how to do it on your own.
Benefit 38: Learn to Recognize Stress and Eliminate It
Most people live in their comfort zone, which is in the middle of a box by which they define themselves. They consider the middle of the box to be a comfort zone and anything beyond that to be stressful.
Volume 2 of the Peak Performance Home Study Course for Traders and Investors is all about stress control. When you are stressed, you go into a fight or flight reaction. Adrenaline is pumped into the system and blood is diverted from your brain to the major muscles of the body. Your normal conscious capacity for processing information is about 7, plus or minus two chunks of information. But during stress, when your brain gets less blood flow, it goes down to about two chunks. You then revert to some primitive behavior. This might have been useful when you needed to escape from a Saber-Toothed tiger, but not when you are trying to trade.
Volume 2 of the Peak Performance Home Study Course helps you measure 1) your stressors, 2) how much stress-protection you have, and 3) gives you lots of means to protect yourself from stress. Some of the best stress-protectors are found in the ten tasks of trading which are discussed in both the Peak Performance Home Study Course and in our Peak Performance 101 workshop. In addition, Lesson 5 of Super Trader Foundation is designed to help you master stress control.
Benefit 39: Expert Coaching to Make Sure That You Understand the Exercises, Do the Best Job Possible, and Don’t Overlook Anything That Is Critical to Your Growth
Prior to the Super Trader Program, when people went through the Peak Performance Course, they skipped things that were really important to them. For example, almost no one completed the value-elicitation exercises even though these can change your life. Very few people looked at their beliefs, started to rid themselves of stored emotions, or got rid of their internal conflicts. But all these exercises are in that course.
I found that if someone did the course a second time, they’d do some of the important exercises, but still skipped the most important ones. Finally, if they did it on their own a third time, they would do what is essential to just get the most important knowledge from the course.
In the Super Trader Program, I found a way around that by producing lessons to make sure everyone got the most important information and did the best they possibly could. When you have to complete a lesson and then report to your coach showing your response and what you got out of it, then you cannot skip what is important. You can decide that it is too scary to do and not do it, but you cannot just skip over it and think you’ve got it because your coach will tell you exactly what you need to do to get more out of the lesson.
We now have four excellent coaches who supervise the ST-Foundation lessons – RJ Hixson, Bruce Walicek, Gracia Rosslow, and Edwin Mercado. All of them have a strong spiritual background and thoroughly understand the material. In addition, I personally supervise almost everyone in Super Trader Awakening and Super Trader Professional.
Benefit 40: Network With Great Traders and People Who Are Committed to Raising Their Level of Consciousness
There are some commonalities in the people we tend to coach. Most of them have found success in their lives. Most of them have an NTJ personality type (Myers-Briggs). And most of them are on a spiritual journey.
Often when you are at trading workshops, people are secretive about what they do and they probably tell you they are a much better trader than they actually are. In contrast, students at the Van Tharp Institute are very open and will share most, if not all, of their experience and trading secrets.
One person in the Super Trader Program was the former CEO of US Operations for one of the 10 largest investment banks in the world. He was no longer in that position as he retired just before the 2008 financial crisis, but nevertheless, he joined the Super Trader Program.
We’ve had numerous hedge fund managers and portfolio managers.
One of my clients, through his inner guidance, increased his retirement account from an average account size to the size of a small hedge fund.
We also have very successful people from other areas of life – doctors, engineers, IT professionals, business owners, etc. And all of them are very open.
As a result, many people say one of the major benefits of the VTI experience is the ability to network with such people. In our live-streamed workshops we utilize “breakout rooms” and other virtual tools to let traders communicate and share ideas. We also plan to resume the VTI Super Trader Summit when it is safe to do so for people all over the world.
This concludes my series on VTI Educational Benefits, but we have many more that are not covered here. A complete series will be published as an e-book in the future.