Is trading a pipe dream? Lessons from Conor McGregor

Trader's Mindset

Jun 25

The dream of trading for substantial profits can often seem like merely a pipe dream for the small under-capitalized trader.  One might find some surprising inspiration in the rise of MMA’s super star Conor McGregor. He has pursued his dream of MMA and combat sports with a conscious, deliberate mindset, and yet people have doubted him at every step.

And, now he faces his biggest challenge yet, as he crosses into the boxing world and challenges Floyd Mayweather. The consensus is already counting McGregor out. But, I would not count out McGregor because he has applied deliberate, conscious effort over his entire lifetime. People assume McGregor is acting impulsively for a money grab but people like McGregor work toward their goals over decades. For all we know, he may have had the idea for this fight years ago. Successful people use pre-selection to get what they want: McGregor selected Mayweather. Dana White is also a shrewd businessman. He would not have allowed this fight to happen if he didn’t think that McGregor had a shot at winning it. This is not a good fight for Mayweather. In my opinion, McGregor is the most dangerous and underrated opponent Mayweather has faced yet. Even so, success is not guaranteed, perhaps not even remotely likely if you believe the odds because his opponent has did the same. But, if I had to call this fight, I suspect Mayweather tries to run for the first several rounds. Conor attempts to muscle and tire him out. In the third or fourth round, Conor recognizes that if doesn’t get the job done that the probability of success might swing to Mayweather’s favor, in the third or fourth round Conor catches Mayweather while Mayweather retreats and drops him.

Trading is less likely to be a pipe dream if…

  1. You pre-selected trading because you shown excellent aptitude at it.
  2. You are consciously and actively working toward your trading goals
  3. You observe from your mistakes, learn from them, and make the required changes.
  4. You are constantly learning and expanding your capabilities with the conscious goal of applying what you learn toward your trading.
  5. You imagine a monte-carlo like array of successful possibilities and pursue all of them.
  6. You can see yourself trading or working toward that goal even 5 years from now.

Trading is more likely to be a pipe dream if…

  1. You never demonstrated excellent aptitude at trading or market analysis but became enthralled in the dream of making easy money.
  2. You are not consciously and actively working toward your trading.
  3. You know the mistakes you make, the changes you need to make, but you do not have a plan to correct them. You know but you do not do.
  4. You see your future trading success as only being possible within the narrow lens of a past successful experience. You are not expanding your capabilities. You are not using your full capabilities.
  5. You can only see a few end success states and only pursue a few of those.
  6. You do not like the vision of seeing yourself working on your trading 5 years from now. Perhaps, you see yourself starting a successful business with your trading profits. You should probably just start the business and skip the trading.
  7. You have the potential to be the next “Conor McGregor” in another field. It might be best in that case to wait until after you retire to attempt trading.

About the Author

The author is passionate about markets. He has developed top ranked futures strategies. His core focus is (1) applying machine learning and developing systematic strategies, and (2) solving the toughest problems of discretionary trading by applying quantitative tools, machine learning, and performance discipline. You can contact the author at