What Jiu-Jitsu’s Teaching Me About Business and Life, Lesson #4: Kill The Ego, Free The Student

Rickson Quote Losing

Up until about two years ago, there was absolutely no way that I could have attempted to learn Jiu-Jitsu.  My ego was far too fragile.

As a lawyer, I was constantly worried about what others thought about me.  I was terrified of failure.  I was petrified of negative feedback, criticisms, and critiques.  You see, I took all of these internally.  Any time I made a mistake, I interpreted it as a deficiency in my ability or my intellect – not in an empowering and inspiring way (such that I would be motivated to gain the necessary skills to compensate for my weaknesses), but rather in a disempowering way (in that I saw myself as less than others).

As a result, I constantly played it safe.  I rarely took risks, and I only operated in the zones that I felt most comfortable in.

Sure I experienced modest financial success as a lawyer, but my fear of failure, my need to be right, and my fragile ego, held me back from learning, engaging, flow, fulfillment and happiness. 

When I finally got honest with myself, and made the necessary changes in my life (which meant quitting law and joining my wife as a partner in her business) I experienced the first “death” to my ego.  This has turned out to be the most transformationally positive experience in my life.

In quitting law I had to accept failure.  I had to accept the fact that I had made a mistake in my career. I also had to table my ego because our Scentsy business (even though it was growing like crazy, and becoming very, very successful) sold primarily female products, through a direct sales model (which many people didn’t understand) and had an overwhelming female consultant base.   I’ve had so many conversations where men, especially professionals from my former life, view our business, and particularly my interest in it, with a sense of condescending humour.

The ego driven me, the one who went to law school to show people how smart he was, could have never survived this mocking.  But I’m sure glad I killed my ego, because our business has created an incredible amount of personal freedom, and satisfaction for me.

It has also paved the way for me to truly enjoy learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because it killed the ego, and thereby freed the student.

Even through I am only a white belt, I believe, unequivocally, that you can’t survive learning the art if your ego is overly sensitive or fragile.  If you can’t handle getting tapped out, you will not last.

I am finding that I get tapped out every single class. Multiple times.  Not just by coloured belts, but sometimes by white belts too.  Sure I catch white belts also, and tap them out, but they also tap me out.  It is a give and take.  

But I am ok with all of this.  Because there is no failure in this sport.  There is only education.  There is only learning. Every time I get tapped out, I learn something.  So even though I “lose”, I win.  I win because I have a new experience – a new reference that I can take into my next roll.  I can remember, and as a result I believe that I get get better.

The reality is that I know that in order to progress in this sport I HAVE to get tapped out.  I HAVE to get tapped out probably thousands of times.  I’ve made peace with this fact.  The ego is dead, therefore the student is freed.  

Since I’ve made peace with this fact, I have nothing to prove, I only have things to learn.  This is such an empowering mindset.  If you take it to all aspects of your life you are basically emotionally bulletproof.

Think about this in a business context.  If you embrace, and make peace with, the fact that you HAVE to tap out (meaning you’re going to experience setbacks) from time to time in order to be successful, then you never get down.  You are a consummate learner.  Every single thing that happens to you in your business you take, and you learn from, and then you apply in a positive manner in the future.

That is a powerful mindset, and there is no way that the person who operates this way, will be kept from success.

You see these types of people will keep at it, over and over and over again.  They will take every setback that they have and they will learn from it, and they will use it to instruct them in the future.  They are constantly progressing. They are constantly getting better.

That is why I am growing to love Jiu-Jitsu:  The mindset that is NECESSARY in order to learn the art, is also unbelievably helpful and empowering outside of the mat.  

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