This is a Guest Post by Dan Fitzpatrick of StockMarketMentor.com and OptionMarketMentor.com.

I have a question for all SMM/OMM members: Are you taking control of your own trading development, or are you looking for the magic bullet, the Holy Grail, the secret sauce, the sure thing? Are you actually putting yourself on a path to succeed, or are you waiting for others to just help you out?

This is a serious question for serious traders. If you’re the guy who’s always just looking for the handout but is unwilling to put in the time, energy and thought to grow as a trader, then what the hell are you doing? Why are you trading? Is this fun, or is this a serious thing?

You have to compare it to a job or career…any career. It’s an axiom of any success plan that you work hard to move up the ladder in a company, or to grow your own business. If you open a restaurant, do you really think you’re going to succeed if you don’t focus on improving the menu and providing great customer service? Do you think you can do this by just showing up once in a while? If you’re working for a large company as a mid-level manager, do you really think you’ll ultimately be promoted to run the company if the number one thing on your mind is, “When is my break?” or “How many sick days and vacation days do I get off?” No. Only an idiot would truly believe that they were entitled to succeed in a job or career where the “minimum is the maximum.” If you want the corner office, you’ve got to earn it. You’re not entitled to it.

This is why I think the “everyone is entitled to a living wage” movement is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of — and I’m hearing a LOT of dumb things lately. My first job was bagging groceries at an Alpha Beta supermarket in Selma, California. I was 16. I wasn’t entitled to a living wage. I lived with my mommy and daddy. I was learning the importance of working for someone else. I made $3.00/hour, which was actually pretty good for 1973. If I’m 26 doing that same job, why am I entitled to more than $3.00? Because I’ve made such a mess of my life that I’m bagging groceries in my mid-twenties? How is that the grocery store’s problem? Why do they owe the 26 year old more than the 16 year old? The job is the same! It’s the SAME JOB! If I’m the store owner and I am required to pay the 26 year old more than the 16 year old for the same job because of his age, that’s reverse age discrimination. It’s nonsensical and wrong. It’s great for the 26 year old who decided that the first rung of the ladder is just fine. But it’s wrong.

You make exactly what you are worth. Not a penny more, and not a penny less. If you think you’re worth so damned much, then go find another job and make that money. If you think that Steph Curry is overpaid, then go learn to put a basketball through a hoop from 50 feet with people climbing all over you, thousands of people screaming, and millions of people watching you. And do it consistently — more than anyone in history. Think LeBron James makes too much? Great. Go dunk on him and make that money yourself. You have the right to do it. Nobody’s stopping you from doing it.

If you want to succeed, you have to pay the price of success. If you want to achieve exceptional things, you have to be exceptional. There are no short cuts on the road to success. There is only the grind. Doing things that others won’t, so that you can ultimately achieve what others can’t.

The vast majority of people are unwilling to do the work necessary to achieve greatness. It’s always been that way, and will always be that way. If it were otherwise, there would be no such thing as “greatness.” Everyone would be the same, irrespective of the work they do. That’s the socialism model, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t reward industriousness. People get paid the same whether or not they do the work. In such a system, why would you want to spend your life working hard if there’s no upside? I wouldn’t. Would you?

Just because you feel you are entitled to something doesn’t mean that you actually are. Just because someone who wants your vote tells you that you are entitled to something doesn’t mean that you actually are. Who is going to give you something that you are “entitled” to? I’ll tell you who: Somebody else. Somebody else is going to pay the freight for your “entitlement.” OK, that’s the society we are living in. People walk around with their heads buried in their phones and stress about how many likes their recent Facebook or Instagram post about their perfect life got. We walk around in a cloud of narcissism, entitlement and laziness, lost in the fog of “somebody owes me something.” I don’t have what I want, so I’m getting screwed!

Yep. I’m talking about our current culture, but this absolutely applies to trading. When is the last time you’ve read a book about trading methodology, time management, self-improvement, or goal setting and achievement? If you say, “Well, I’ve got one going now, and I’m halfway through it,” then you’ve got a fighting chance to succeed as a trader. Maybe! If you say, “I don’t know which one to buy. And I’m too busy anyway. And by the way, what stock should I buy?” then you’re going to have a tough time of it. If you say, “I’m reading and studying a lot. But by the way, what stock should I buy?” then you’re doing fine. You need some help, and that’s what I do. I’ll help you. But I can’t do it for you.

If you want to have a shot at success, here are some books you need to read…and that you need to make notes in the margins while you read, or keep separate notes for reference in the future. They’re not romance novels or spy thrillers. Vince Flynn and Brad Thor might make for interesting reading, but they won’t make you a dime.

Here are some books I would recommend — in no particular order of importance. They are all grist for the mill.

–Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

–How To Make Money in Stocks, by William O’Neil

–Trade Like a Market Wizard, and Think and Trade Like a Champion, by Mark Minervini

New Trader Rich Trader, and The Ultimate Trading Risk Management Guide, by Steve and Holly Burns

–The Adam Theory of Markets, by Welles Wilder

–The Zurich Axioms, by Max Gunther

Here are some courses and videos I would recommend:

–Everything I have written in my Morning Market Thoughts for the past several years — they are all on the website for you to find.

All of my video courses, classes and live trading sessions. I spend an ungodly amount of hours putting out good stuff, but I can’t implant it into your brain. You have to spend the time getting it yourself. There are several premium courses you can obtain, such as 59-Minute Trader, Basic Training, etc. But you have to pay for those. You’re not entitled to them any more than you are entitled to a living wage in trading. Don’t have enough money to spend? Fine! I spit out a lot of essential material for the price you are paying for your membership. I’m here to help and I hold nothing back. I am constantly studying and striving to improve my own trading, and I’m finding success. And I’m sharing it all with you.

I hear from veteran members who have been around for 10 years on occasion. They tell me that they have seen a huge difference in my trading and market analysis over the years, and that I’m better than ever. I appreciate such compliments. A pat on the back always feels good. But how could it be any different? I have spent countless hours over the weeks, month, and years to a point where I’ve compromised my health and given up a lot of things that most people feel “entitled” to. But you know what? That’s a price that I have willingly paid. I’ve paid it because I’ve had a goal. A goal to be an exceptional trader. I can’t tell you the number of well meaning friends and family who told me that it couldn’t be done. Their discouragement only fueled the fire burning inside me. I didn’t just have a desire to succeed. Everybody has a desire to succeed. It means nothing. I had a BURNING desire to succeed. It was all consuming. Because I know this: If you want exceptional things, you have to be exceptional. There is no room for mediocrity if you want to be great. If you want to be mediocre, that’s easy. Blend in with the crowd. But if you want to be exceptional, you have to step away from the crowd and blaze your own trail. If you’re not willing to do that, there’s no shame in it. Nothing to be embarrassed about. You just don’t want it bad enough.

When I was a young man, I wanted to be a successful musician and conquer the world. But after a few years of working at it, I realized that I just didn’t want it bad enough. I wasn’t willing to pay the price, or take the risks, required to be successful. Talent wasn’t an issue; desire was. So I just pursued other endeavors with my head held high. I didn’t fail…because I made a choice. It was the rational choice and I’m comfortable with it. If I’m not willing to pay the price, why should I get the goods? Just because I wanted it, was I entitled to it? Was I entitled to make a “living wage” as a musician? Seriously? Only an imbecile would ask that question.

HERE IS THE PAYOFF FOR YOU: You don’t have to make the sacrifices that I’ve made, and that I continue to make. That’s an unreasonable request. You are here because you want to be the best you can be without spending the bulk of your life getting there. You’re smart to be here. I’m doing the heavy lifting for you. You are leveraging my efforts. That’s what you’re paying me for. It’s a standard quid pro quo.

But you’ve got to do SOMETHING yourself. You MUST take the bull by the horns and take control of your own destiny. You have what it takes to succeed. If you are reading this, you are literally paying a price for success. But make an investment in yourself! As hard as I try, I will not be able to give you everything you need. If that’s what you’re expecting, I will disappoint you.

But I will make you this promise. If you…

1. Read those books I have recommended, and take notes for future reference (I have read all of them many times. MANY times.);
2. If you consistently watch my videos and read my morning notes; and
3. If you track all of your trades and mark charts to note exactly where you bought and where you sold…

Then there is no way you will not be a better trader in 6 months than you are now. Frankly, there’s no way you won’t be a better trader 2 months from now. You will not be able to avoid improvement if you just do the things I’ve mentioned above. (And I’m not suggesting that you fork out extra money for premium material here. That’s not my point. You’ll do just fine without any of it if you do everything I’m recommending here. That’s the advanced stuff that you can get later, when money isn’t an issue. Just stick with the stuff that comes with the price of the subscription.)

Think about it this way: You get what you pay for. You can buy all of these books, buy all of our courses here, watch all of the videos and read all of my notes. You can buy a lifetime subscription to Stock Market Mentor [actually, you can’t…because we don’t offer one]. You can pay for all of these things. But you won’t get much for your money because you need something else: You need to put in the time to digest and integrate the information into your trading behavior. That’s the real price you need to pay. It’s about more than money. It’s about effort. Focused effort! That’s what it takes to succeed.

Do you have what it takes to succeed? Are you willing and able to pay the price of success. If you are, then start doing it. Start today! If you’re not, that’s fine too. Trading is not for everybody. It’s really not. Every once in a while I’ll run into someone who is completely lacking in the ability to learn. For whatever reason, they like trading but are unwilling to make any changes to avoid losing money. They just make the same mistake again and again, even through repeated corrections that I offer. They just can’t get out of their own way. And the reason is obvious: They aren’t willing to pay any price to succeed. They think that if they just keep doing the same thing, their results will change. They’ll ask me the same questions again and again and again. And I’ll give them the same answers each time. And they’ll ignore my advice each time. And they’ll lose money each time. It’s actually quite remarkable. In a way, it’s pretty impressive. How someone can be so focused on doing the wrong thing again and again, without wavering or deviating from their bad trading habits even once, is actually pretty admirable. It’s painful to watch. But it’s damned impressive. It’s not a lot different than watching someone take a hammer and pound their thumb on a block of wood for days on end…again and again, until the thumb is just a clump of blood, flesh and bone.

I couldn’t do it. One bang on the thumb and I’d either put the hammer down and grab some ice, or I’d at least remove my thumb and keep pounding the block of wood instead of my thumb. But I’d do something because I don’t like pain. I would absolutely change my behavior to rid myself of the pain and preserve my ability to give a “thumb’s up” sign when appropriate. But some people like pain. They need pain. I’m just happy that I’m not one of those guys.

Are you one of those guys who needs pain? Or are you going to put down the hammer and go grab some ice for your thumb? If you grab the ice, make sure you get a good book to read while you’re icing your painful digit. If you’re willing to pay the price, the digits in your trading account will start to look better. If you’re not, then I can assure you that your account will ultimately look like a clump of blood, flesh and bone.

I’ll be helping you out tonight. Several months ago I taught a class on the process of trading. It was about an hour long. If you are a new member, I’m almost positive that you haven’t found this class, even though it’s available on the website. So I’m putting it right in front of your nose. 😎 I want you to watch this video and take notes. After you are finished, then spend some time thinking. How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own trading?

If you invest the time and energy to do this, then you’re on your way to becoming a better trader.

If you are not willing to spend the time and energy to simply watch this free video and work on applying it to your own trading behavior, then you’re standing flat footed in the middle of the road. There’s nothing wrong with that either…unless you somehow think you are entitled to achieve the same results as the person who spends the time, and expends the effort, to become better…and to have a chance to become great! If that is your expectation, then you probably subscribe to the idea that socialism is a pretty good system. That’s fine too. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I can assure you this: There is no socialism in trading. You are entitled to nothing. There is no community pot where everyone puts the fruits of their labors into a pool that is shared by everybody on a pro rata basis.

In trading, you eat what you kill. You are either the predator or the prey. Seriously, you are one or the other. And if you’re wondering whether you are the predator or the prey, I can clear that up for you quickly. You’re the prey. Predators know they are predators. Prey don’t know they’re the prey. They’re so busy thinking about the free meal they’re entitled to that they fail to see that they’re actually about to become someone else’s meal. The common saying among card players is that there is a sucker at every table. And if you are wondering who the sucker is, then you are the sucker.

You know if you are on the right path. You instinctively know whether you are paying the price for success, or whether you’ve got your hand out and are unwilling to make sacrifices. If you are willing to pay the price of success, then take a step forward along the path to success. If you are not willing to pay that price, then step off the path and make room for the person behind you who is eagerly pushing forward.

You have a choice to make. Make it. Choose. I can’t make the choice for you. I can only point it out. And I’ve done that.

Choose!

–Dan

You can follow Dan on Twitter @DanFitzpatrick and sign up for his free Chart of the Day-> Here.