One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities. -Abraham Maslow
Have you ever encountered someone who attempts to complete a task, only to give up after a few tries? While they may very well still be a good person, chances are that they not only lack the ability to think critically but they have not developed a mindset of “going until the end”. Such a mindset was and is vital to the survival of civilization. This mentality is what allowed some to survive harsh winters and famines and others not. From a young age, many of us are undeveloped in this area until we begin to develop goals that demand the persistence needed to continually and consistently solve problems to finish the job. I’m not talking about delegating a task because your time was utilized better elsewhere, in business this is commonplace to allow you to solve multiple problems at a higher rate of speed, what I’m talking about is when people choose to simply give up before exhausting all possible options. This is why Martial Arts and Jiu Jitsu in particular are so fascinating to me.
One of the best demonstrations of this, in my mind, happened recently at the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Ultra-heavyweight championship finals, in a match with Gutemberg Pereira and my good friend and teammate Victor Hugo. Early in the match Victor narrowly escaped a nasty arm bar attack which left him unable to use his left arm for most of the match. This sequence also caused him to give up two points to his opponent in a finals match where matches are decided by the smallest of margins. For context, the finals matches of the world championships can be decided by a penalty, an advantage (somewhat of a half point for a near score which supersedes penalties) and points or even a referee decision in the case of no points being scored by either competitor. This made a two point score early on all his opponent needed to ice the clock to take the win, especially with Victor’s arm being less than functional. After a couple instances of his opponent almost securing the back position where one looks to then finish their opponent with a series of chokes and armlocks Victor managed to escape into a less than ideal position where he was being pinned and controlled by the other fighter where the match appears it will seemingly end 2-0. Then, out of nowhere Victor escapes and secures the top position to tie the score in what could only be described as a Houdini act. Immediately following this transition, he passes his opponents legs and pins him for another three points, to make it 5-2 before securing the mount position in the last minute to become the 2022 IBJJF Ultra Heavyweight World Champion with a score of 9-2.
This match was easily my favorite match of the tournament and possibly overall. Not only due to Victor and I being teammates. There is so much I learned from this match, in terms of resilience and perseverance, and being able to “go deep” in all things that you do. It’s easy to see a match like that and assume that the outcome is the result of the past ten minutes (the length of a black belt match) but champions know that while much of the outcome is decided in the match, there is an immeasurable amount of work, challenge and effort that culminated in the days, months and even years leading up to a single moment of being crowned world champion. For example, you don’t learn how to escape bad positions on the fly, if that was the case his opponent could have done the same and held onto his lead to win. This comes from placing yourself in difficult positions in training in order to get better. Such a mentality shows true humility and commitment to the result, knowing that rather than you looking good and feeling good in training, you are dedicated to eliminating your week links which sometimes means getting tapped by lower belts in order to truly discover your limits. This becomes a powerful mindset shift for anyones life if they are willing to apply themselves. Learning to push yourself to exhaustion, failure and places you never knew is the only way to know where your capabilities lie, and while it’s certainly not comfortable the champion has the target fixed in his or her mind and will stop at nothing until they get it, and that is exactly what Victor Hugo did. When you are able to actualize this at the highest level of sport and can then apply it to your personal and business life you will be guaranteed the ultimate wealth and success you so deserve.