Why Ego Leads to Improvement

“Leave your ego at the door.” Great in theory but not exactly realistic in practice. It would be nice if you strolled into the Jiu Jitsu academy every day, hit every technique, and easily submitted all of your opponents. Your ego would be satisfied by the belief that you were the greatest Jiu Jitsu player ever and all would be right with the world. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality.

So, today, no shit there I was, advanced Gi class training for an upcoming tournament and my guard was getting passed like a hot knife through butter. Was I frustrated, absolutely, did I go Super Saiyan and crush the nearest white belt I could find? No. Besides, what would that prove? Everyone has experienced this level of frustration whether drilling something new or falling for the same old technique your opponent uses day in and day out. The difference for me is how I use that frustration in order to make improvement.

This frustration, like it or not, is the ego disguised by a different name in order to conceal ones weakness. I would however, like to argue that the ego or belief in your identity should not be shunned or demonized. Don’t leave ego at the door, rather welcome it into the gym with open arms and use it as a springboard to improvement. Ego’s bad reputation is built upon the old wives tale that ego = hurting training partners or being overzealous and muscling out of every precarious situation. Unfortunately, this view is misguided and narrow. Wile I agree and have seen some upper belts take out their frustration from a “bad roll” on a lower belt (to prove their self-worth) we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Encourage your teammates to create focus areas for improvement when their performance does not meet their level of expectation. Review the small details that may be missing or begin to develop / refine new parts to your game, adding tools to your toolbox. Sites like TrappBJJ and Digitsu are perfect resources for Jiu Jitsu instruction / guided techniques.

I like to believe that if you are not getting frustrated in training you are either not training with the right people (cherry picking your opponents) or maybe you are a big fish in a small pond. Challenge yourself through open mats or seek out rolls with the higher belts or the guys you refuse to make eye contact with. No luck there, try signing up for a big competition and testing yourself on a big stage. Ego is good. Ego leads to improvement. Let ego drive you to better yourself not only on the mats but in life and in your career.



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