Success is a tricky word. Everyone defines what their version of success looks like to them: wealth, fame, family, legacy, friendship, travel, and more!
If Jiu Jitsu can teach us anything, it’s that failures and successes come in many forms and pave the way for any journey worth taking. Jiu Jitsu has many lessons to teach and rewards to offer beyond the skills necessary to win a local competition! Keep reading to learn what BJJ can teach you about how to find success – however you define it.
Consistency is key
Every white belt has posed the question: “How do I get better at Jiu Jitsu?” Sure enough, every BJJ coach has likely responded with something along the lines of: “Just keep training.”
It frustrates our natural sense of instant gratification to learn that there really is no shortcut to black belt. Likewise, any meaningful endeavor, whether it’s personal or professional, will take time. It may take a week to attain your goals, or it may take years.
However long it takes to achieve your goal, it is important to remember that time will march on regardless if you stick with it or not. So, why not keep chipping away at it and earn that black belt, start that business, or write your novel?
It’s ok to rest
We live in the “rise and grind” era. Nearly every social media post from aspiring entrepreneurs or athletes is dedicated to showcasing the hard work they constantly endure to achieve their goals. While being proud of your work ethic is not inherently a bad thing, we tend to create unrealistic standards for ourselves that don’t allow for a period of rest on the way to our goals.
Constant and consistent mat time will reap rewards for BJJ practitioners, but without proper rest, you may find yourself experiencing diminishing returns due to injury or fatigue. If you don’t allow your body and mind to heal, how can you be expected to pursue your goal to the fullest?
On the mats and in your life take some time to rest and look at your goals with fresh eyes. Your passion will always guide you back to where you need to be.
Legendary MMA fighter Vitor Belfort said, “Legacy is not what I did for myself. It’s what I’m doing for the next generation.”
Whether it’s big or small everyone wants to leave their mark on the world. In Jiu Jitsu, and many other martial arts, we create and sustain legacy through the lineages of teachers who preceded us.
We learn lessons from the techniques that survived them and the colorful lives they lived. Many BJJ players seek grand tournament wins, to be the best coach on the planet, or to just be the most controversial.
Any passion or career that you pursue will give you the opportunity to create a legacy. Don’t focus too much on becoming the stuff of legends. Legacies can live on in small and sometimes subtle ways. While he certainly had a successful Judo career, Masahiko Kimura is perhaps best known for his namesake submission the Kimura.
While he did not invent the submission, he managed to use it to such great effect that we’ve come to refer to this particular figure-4 shoulder lock by his name. With the rise of the UFC’s popularity, one could argue that this somewhat obscure Judoka has become a household name.
Don’t focus on appearances
There are few things that are more exciting or more stressful than belt promotions. Your belt carries with it a representation of skill and accomplishment, but also the responsibility to meet a higher standard. Whether that causes anxiety or excitement, be sure to focus on your actual progress, rather than letting your belt color determine your worth.
If your primary goal is to impress people and show off the cosmetic side of your journey, you may find that your passion for your journey will diminish after you get your fill of attention. Others may appear flashier than you, but your success will be a greater badge of honor than your appearance.
Confidence comes in many forms. Maybe you’re a great public speaker. Maybe you’re completely comfortable with your body. Perhaps you can open up to anyone. Whether you are a confident person or not, BJJ will present you with many situations that force you to confront these issues.
Confidence is an attitude that is developed over time, and much like your Jiu Jitsu, it takes practice. To achieve any measure of success, you will have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable things in life. Jiu Jitsu forces us into uncomfortable positions but it teaches us to be confident that we can survive and thrive in the midst of this discomfort.
It’s ok to have small goals
In some ways, the first stripe on your white belt can be just as meaningful as finally achieving a black belt. Remember to celebrate the smaller victories just as much as you do the big ones, otherwise you may get discouraged along the way.
Set small goals over shorter time periods to keep your confidence when you achieve them. These smaller goals are stepping stones to reach your ultimate goal.
It’s ok to always have your endgame in mind, but don’t lose sight of what comes first. You want to be a millionaire? Have you created a step by step plan to get there? If not, reassess your journey and enjoy the little things.
Hard work doesn’t pay off right away
Even your passions can leave you feeling stressed, tired, and defeated. You may spend years of training or hustling just to constantly feel like you’ve failed. Constant mat time can mean just as many good days as bad days. Try to understand that it is all a process.
It may take years of practice to finally land that one submission that you’ve been working on. Finally hitting it might feel like a eureka moment, but try to remember the incremental progress you made along the way.
Some self reflection of where you were versus where you are now in any journey will help you face the harder days with a little more courage.
Connect with others
Although Jiu Jitsu may seem like a solo sport, we all know that it is our teammates that help mold us into the skilled practitioner that we eventually become. Perhaps the most rewarding part of Jiu Jitsu are the close and meaningful relationships that Jiu Jitsu can foster among people.
Need a confidante, a buddy to watch the fights with, a dedicated training partner, or someone trustworthy to fix that leaky faucet of yours? You can probably find them all on the mats. These connections will increase your passion for Jiu Jitsu and build a stronger team.
Likewise, friends and supportive colleagues will help you feel encouraged to pursue your goals, or they can partner with you to create a stronger vision.
If there is one thing that Jiu Jitsu makes clear, it’s that know-it-alls tend to know very little. Being arrogant and closed off to constructive criticism will stunt your growth in any endeavor you choose, especially Jiu Jitsu.
More often than not, your coaches and training partners are rooting for your success, so trust that any advice they give is to keep you moving forward. Being teachable means more than just listening when an authority is speaking. It also means pursuing knowledge when it isn’t just dropped in your lap.
The end is not the end
For many people, there is often an emphasis on that one big goal. A distant destination that sits just beyond the horizon. There is a certain thrill and mystery to chasing your big goal down. For mainstream society that goal might be fame, fortune, or a viral Tweet. However, for Jiu Jitsu practitioners, the big goal is typically achieving a black belt.
But, what happens when you finally cross the horizon and grab hold of your grand prize? Does the passion leave your body? Do you just move on to some other goal?
That may be an option for some, but Jiu Jitsu teaches us that the black belt is simply a new starting point. There is still a world of competitors to test your mettle against. There will always be new students to mentor. Take joy in the fact that the work of your passions is never settled.
Jiu Jitsu has a lot to teach us. Beyond the myriad techniques it is capable of providing valuable life lessons to those who practice it.
Although success can be defined differently from person to person, Jiu Jitsu can teach us how to find success no matter how it looks to us.