Fear the Mediocre: thoughts on a new way to motivate yourself.

Some of us struggle with motivation. We start out strong with all the right intentions, but start to fade when things get tough or we don’t see results within a perceived timeframe. I’ve spoken previously on the importance of discipline over motivation, but it’s still important to have motivation. How can we keep motivated when things start getting tough?  Continue reading

Beating the Sedentary Lifestyle: Starting out Small

Continuing on the theme from yesterday’s post; Beating the Sedentary Lifestyle: The Modern Day Killer, we will continue looking at ways to overcome the sedentary lifestyle.

Not everyone is suddenly going to be able to say “Damn, you’re right! I need to get out and exercise every day!” That’s how fads start and it’s only a superficial fix. If you go from nothing to everything, it will likely be too much and you will either get injured or burn out and give up. You have to build it up by starting out small.  Continue reading

Thoughts on Reality & Hard Work

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Photo by George Miller

“There is no substitute for hard work” 

For some, the concept of hard work & the perceived discomfort it will bring (and the perceived ‘lack’ of results that follow) is just not worth the effort. I think we live in a time, now more so than ever before, where people want instant gratification; so many people see results but do not anticipate the hard work it requires to get there and become quick to make excuses once they realize they are not willing to invest the time and effort required. 

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Investing in your journey: Thoughts on your time & effort as a currency

I read an interesting quote last week that caused me to reflect on the way we invest our time and effort into an activity. The quote was Jiu-jitsu related, however I think it applies to any pursuit we have:

“Jiu-jitsu is like a bank; the more you put in the more you can take out.”

On the surface, this quote seems pretty simple at first, but the more I reflected on this, the more it made me think about the investments we make into our chosen pursuits. The more time and effort we invest into something, the more we are able to take from it and the more it will come to serve us. In this article I will reflect on this idea, as well as discuss the idea of our time and effort as a form of currency.

As a bit of a bonus, I’ve added some thoughts at the end regarding Cognitive Dissonance for those of you who are interested in how this concept may affect our perceptions of our time invested and our improvement.

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Sacrifice

Think about the thing you’re really passionate about- that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. No one would argue that you’re dedicated, you work hard and orient your life around it. But what sacrifices are you willing to make for it? 

Chances are high that you already make some sacrifices for it. You dedicate and sacrifice your free time, if it’s a physical pursuit you sacrifice your body’s well being at times too. When you look forward and you picture yourself still committed to your passion in five, ten, fifteen years from now what sacrifices do you anticipate you will have to make for it? You’re going to have to sacrifice more time; time with friends and family, time that you may want to use for other things. You’re going to have to sacrifice even more of your well being (physically and mentally). Some of these sacrifices could completely change your life. So anticipate them and ask yourself: are you willing to make them?

If you are not willing to sacrifice for your chosen pursuit, you are not pursuing the right thing. Only your true passion- your calling in life- will make you feel willing to sacrifice endlessly for it. Your passion should be the driving force in your life, so why would you only half dedicate yourself to it? Think about those at the highest echelons of human achievement; they did not get there by compromising or by holding back. Sacrifice is the price demanded by success, make sure you are willing to pay the price.

Allowing yourself the space for creativity

Many of us, in the pursuits we are passionate about, have the space to be creative and express ourselves in a true, honest way.

One thing we need to be aware of is that sometimes our focus can narrow and we can become absorbed by single facets of our pursuit. This can leave us without the space to find creative solutions- or to express creativity- because we become hyper-focused on the single thing directly in front of us. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and allow ourselves that space for creativity again.

For myself, my biggest creative pursuit is within Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and I’m constantly trying to find new ways to open up pathways to express myself within the (martial) art form. At times, I’ve felt like I had hit the dreaded “plateau”; where I felt like I was at a point of stasis and not seeing any improvement. I would be dissatisfied because I could not find success with the single thing that I was working on.

But the solution in cases like this is actually very simple. Sometimes, we narrow our focus too much and do not allow for the state of flow to occur, limiting our creativity and ultimately our ability to experiment & improve. When we become too objective focused, we dedicate all of our attention to completing that objective and forget to prioritize other equally important aspects.

A lot of practitioners talk about “opening up their game”. I think that this in a way refers to attending to the creative learning often required within BJJ and other martial arts or sports. Shouldn’t we always open up our games? By allowing ourselves the space to work creatively to solve the problems presented us, we will plateau less, enjoy training more and find more satisfaction when things do start to come together as a result.

Presence of mind: The importance of mental presence in learning.

 

“What’s the secret?” 

Who has heard this before? With reference to learning; there is no secret. There is no cheat code that lets you skip the hard work, the effort and demands of improving and learning something new. However, as is the focus of quite a few discussions here at Articulate BJJ, there are specific habits we can develop that will help us to maximize, and maybe even fast track, your learning. One of these is Mental Presence.

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Thoughts on Having an Open Mind

“Oh, I don’t need to learn this. It doesn’t fit into my game plan.” or “I already know this, I don’t need to practice it.” are examples of what got me thinking about this next topic: Being Open-Minded. 

I think I’ve been very fortunate to have had teachers, friends and peers who have modeled open minded behavior throughout my learning. I think it is also because I have been surrounded by this positive behavior that it comes as a shock to me when I see people uttering statements such as the above.

It takes humility for a person to admit they don’t know something; many of us don’t want to risk looking stupid in the face of our colleagues, partners or friends whose opinions we value. Above humility, it also takes a lot of effort for us to be open-minded. In the gym, the work place or even in the company of friends, being open minded is an invaluable attribute. Continue reading