I’m sure by now you have probably figured out that I am a bit of a Bike Nut and although I got nastily bitten by a Honda VFR750FM 21 Years ago which means that I am unable to ride myself now, I am still a huge fan of Bike Racing and in particular the top class which is MotoGP is a big passion. Some while ago I wrote a Blog which was to do with the psychology of Sport and this one was based on Jo Conta and Tennis but the principles of a Positive Mindset without doubt apply across all Sports and are also necessary if you are to achieve success in Investing / Trading.
What has prompted this Blog was an interview I watched when the fragrant Suzi Perry was talking to one of this Season’s hot favourites to win the MotoGP Title, Andrea Dovizioso (that’s a bit of a mouthful and I have probably spelt it wrong but fortunately even Andrea refers to himself as ‘Dovi’ so that’s what I will use !!). What is notable about this is that if you had asked almost anyone who knew a bit about MotoGP if they thought Dovi would be chasing a Championship 5 years ago, you would probably have got a response like, “You must be joking, he’s a great Second Rider for a Team but no way he could win the title”, yet here he is right at the front and in the last 2 years he was battling for the title. This could be his year.
So what changed?
Well, in a word (in fact, two words) it is Self-belief.
Without doubt Dovi has been an extremely talented Rider all through his career and clear evidence of this is that he was the World Champion in the baby class, 125cc, back in 2004 which is a clear indication that he has the ability and drive to win a Title and then he was Runner-up to Jorge Lorenzo in the 250cc Championship in 2007 (bear in mind Lorenzo is one of the all-time greats having won many Titles in the top class as well and there is no doubt that Dovi had a huge disadvantage from being stuck on an out of date Honda which was most definitely not truly competitive against Lorenzo’s Aprilia).
Dovi then moved up to the Top Class which is of course extremely competitive and he got a seat in the leading Team of Repsol Honda which was an outstanding opportunity for Dovi to prove himself right at the top. Sadly, for whatever reason, he never quite managed to truly compete although he had several Podiums and he was up against some legendary Riders like Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner etc. which was always going to be difficult. After a couple of Seasons I think, Dovi lost his seat and went to the Tech3 Yamaha Team but this was not a ‘Factory’ Bike and Yamaha tend to give their Satellite Team last year’s Bike so that is a big disadvantage and as the Season progresses the latest Bikes get faster and faster so last year’s Bike just looks more and more out of its depth.
After a couple of solid Seasons with Tech3 but not much success, I think Dovi ended up moving to Ducati and at that time the Bike they had was a total piglet. It had already ‘destroyed’ the careers of several top Riders such as Marco Melandri (a former 250cc Champion who is still riding and winning in World Superbikes which is a lower class but still you gotta be talented to be at the front) and even Nicky Hayden (a Champion in the top class who sadly died a couple of years ago in a freak cycling accident) and the nub of the problem seems to be that because Ducati had the extremely rare natural talent of Casey Stoner who brought them a Championship, they failed to realise that the Bike was useless because Stoner’s sheer skill was masking the inherent design problems and Ducati just thought all the other Riders were hopeless. It was so bad that even when the ‘Greatest of All Time’ Valentino Rossi (9 Championships in the top class) moved to Ducati in a proper Italian ‘Dream Team’, even Rossi was unable to tame the beast and it was a big black mark over Rossi’s remarkable Career but without doubt that Bike was beyond useless.
Things had got so bad that Stoner had left Ducati in disgust (he went to Honda and just to prove he still had the talent he went on to win the Championship) and after the fiasco with Rossi, Ducati finally accepted that their Bike was a turkey and they recruited Gigi Dal’igna who is a technical wizard who had taken Aprilia to a World Superbike Championship and they also recruited Jorge Lorenzo who struggled with the new design but after a year he started to get to grips with it and won several Races last year. However, due to a political mistake by Ducati, Lorenzo had a bust up with them and has now gone to Honda but at least in that time the new Ducati has become perhaps the best Bike on the grid and all this time Dovi was with Ducati and he has now ended up with the machine he can win on and in the last two years he has won plenty of races and beaten the current World Champion, Marc Marquez, in many Races although he has yet to win the Title.
Dovi is just the particular example I am using to explain the concept but I have seen it so many times over the years where a Rider has clearly had massive loads of talent but has struggled to get that first Win but once they get it, it is like a seal has been broken and you can almost guarantee that they will win more Races and it is all about self-belief and having the confidence to know they can be Winners (it is often referred to as “Getting the monkey off your back”). Up until that first Win, Dovi clearly lacked the self-belief and Michael Laverty on the BT Sport Commentary Team said that it was no surprise and that Dovi himself had probably started to believe the Press comments about him that he was a great Rider but only as a support to a Top Rider and that he was unable to win himself. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you think about what Dovi achieved in the early years of his Career it seems crazy that he lacked self-belief but I guess after a while of not getting the Wins you just fall into the habit of not winning and start to doubt your own abilities.
So it is pretty obvious that Dovi has had the talent all along to win but what went missing for a long time was his own belief that he could be a Winner. The BT Sport Commentary Team (most of whom are Ex-Racers themselves) had a really good discussion about this in the Practice Days for the Qatar Grand Prix which started the 2019 Season, and Michael Laverty who has ridden in GPs but has been in British Superbikes in recent years, was saying that Dovi has had a new Psychologist and Dovi’s new Team-mate, Danillo Petrucci, has been using the same Psychologist and one of his tasks has been to not think any Negative Thoughts for 2 months - apparently by doing this, it brings about a Positive mindset and that is essential for being able to win (well it must work, because since I wrote the first draft of this blog, Petrucci has won his first race, the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello which is the ultimate dream for any Italian rider).
They got onto this subject in the Commentary Team because when Suzi interviewed Dovi, he explained how the Ducati Bike he rides has lots of problems but instead of focusing all their effort over the Winter to iron out those problems, they have taken a very different approach of looking at where the Bike is strong and then making it even stronger in these areas - so in effect they are making the Bike so good at certain aspects that the negatives are totally reduced. For example, it might be that the Ducati is slow mid-corner and the Factory and Dovi could have spent ages and ages tweaking this and that engine setting, suspension adjustments, wheelbase changes, weight distribution, electronic settings etc. etc. but instead they have pretty much accepted that the Bike is not very good mid-corner and then looked at where it is good like getting out of the corner very fast and onto the Straight. So they have then worked on how it gets out of the corner and made it even better at doing this and Dovi will have adapted his riding style and the lines he takes around the Corner to maximise the speed at which they can exit the Corner. Also, they might have worked on the Entry Speed into the Corner by braking later and later which is another area where the Ducati is good - and they then worked to get better at this. It is probably Dovi’s most significant strength also and he is renowned for being the “last of the late breakers”.
How this relates to Investing/Trading
Dovi’s mindset is really important here, it was clear from the interview (he pretty much said it exactly) that he just doesn’t let the negative aspects of the Bike bother him and instead he just focuses on making it better at what it is already good at. Now that relates exactly to us as Investors and Traders whereby we need to do precisely the same thing of minimising our Weaknesses and getting better at the things we do well already. So it is about looking honestly and objectively at how we go about things and identifying where we are doing good things and where we are screwing up or perhaps just not doing things as effectively as we perhaps could.
But of course another important aspect is to believe in ourselves and to be confident that we can be successful Investors - and as I have often said recently, I have no doubt that if people are prepared to focus and to put the effort in then anyone can be a good Investor (it might be harder to be a successful Trader though but without doubt you will not succeed as a Trader if you do not apply yourself and work hard at it). To my mind there has never been a better time to be a Private Investor and the information and superb tools like SharePad and Stockopedia that are available today are far superior to what was around when I started out 20 Years ago.
Thinking in a positive way and having a Mindset of never giving up and striving to improve is also very helpful when the going gets tough and things are not working out as we would like. I suspect for most Investors 2018 was a very tough year but the important thing is to accept that such years will happen from time to time and we need to just stick to the plan and keep pushing forwards and tweaking our Approach if we really think it is necessary. You need to take a step back and look at the Big Picture and be confident in your ability and your belief that you will succeed and that the odd tough period is all part of the game and by just plugging away things will come good again and we will succeed. Investing is not won or lost over a year or so and it is very much a long-term thing where what matters is what we achieve over Decades, not short periods where we underperform what we would ideally like to achieve.
Anyway, chin up and keep focusing on the Positives !!
PS. Since writing this Blog in draft form, I was watching some or other thing on Discovery Channel and I think it was ‘Cooper’s Treasure’ where some geezer has a ‘Treasure Map’ which was created by the Astronaut Gordon Cooper back in the mid 1960s on the Mercury space missions where he was orbiting around the Globe and somehow he was able to spot where there were Shipwrecks in the Seas and Oceans with remarkable accuracy.
Anyway, in this Programme they were on a Boat using a Sonar Scanner thing that they dragged behind the Boat and used it to map for Magnetic anomalies on the Seabed and this was to pinpoint the Wrecks so they could dive on them and search for gold. Anyway, the bit that I am relating here is that the bloke who is an expert in using this equipment said that in Treasure hunting it is essential to stay calm and unemotional and to take the rough with the smooth with the same nonchalant attitude. When you don’t find any gold you need to just shrug it off and when you do find gold, you mustn’t get crazy and over excited because the chances are it will be a very long time before you discover any more. I see Investing and Trading as similar to this in many ways.
A very similar sentiment was expressed in MotoGP after my first draft of this blog. After the first race of the season at Qatar where Dovi won by a few feet from Marc Marquez, BT Sport talked to Claudio Domenicalli who is the big boss of Ducati and he was explaining how they must stay on an even keel and not get over-excited when they win a race and on the other hand they must not get too distraught when things go wrong.
Here’s that Tennis related Blog I was on about:
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