When my little boy Z was a baby he was like a ninja crawling around on the ground.
When something caught his eye he would zip over to it to check it out and see what trouble he could cause with it, which always kept his mom and I on our toes.
However, the real problem was that he wouldn’t practice walking.
He could do it, he just had the problem that all toddlers have when learning to walk – it is a slow and cumbersome way to get around at first.
I mean, you can see how from his perspective walking was a disaster. All that falling over and now his mom and I could have time to stop him from making his way to something he shouldn’t be messing with.
Why screw around with that when crawling has been working just fine, thank you very much.
But then one day something happened that completely changed how he saw the world and walking suddenly became worth the trouble. And luckily, I was there to see it because it taught me a valuable lesson as well.
Z and I were hanging out in the backyard when he found a metal rod that that he grabbed and tried to crawl around with. The problem was that he already had something in the other hand and trying to crawl around with both hands full isn’t easy.
Then he tried a different strategy and stood up. He took a couple of steps and it was like a light bulb went off – you could see in his eyes that something had changed.
Standing also makes it easier to work on bikes.
He’d realized that when you walk you can easily carry something in both hands. You can literally double your carrying capacity for weapons or toys or whatever it is that you want to carry.
And this was worth dealing with the pain of the drawbacks of walking. I never saw him crawl again from that moment on. Once the shift had been made he never went back to using it.
That was a powerful lesson for me as well. To be there for that light bulb moment and to see how quickly and dramatically it changed his behavior really drove home the point for me that we have a huge capacity for change…but only if we really buy into why we need to do it.
It is the buy in that changes how you see the efforts and sacrifices you are making. Changing your behaviors without changing how you see those behaviors won’t last.
In Jiu-Jitsu see you see this from people who start out strong but after a few weeks they just can’t find the time and eventually give up. Once the initial motivation wore off they didn’t have the fuel they needed to keep things going.
But that’s the secret, though – that fuel has to come from how you see the world.
For example, most of us brush our teeth because we see the world in a way that motivates us to do it. No one wants bad breath and rotten teeth and so we perform the ritual of brushing our teeth a couple times a day.
However, most people just don’t see the world in a way that motivates them to take care of the rest of their body. Training BJJ or doing some strength and mobility training can be a frustrating pain in the butt, which is how they see it even when forcing themselves to do it.
No wonder most people don’t start or quit within a few months. This goes back to my post on The Importance of Being an Optmist for BJJ…if you don’t think that an activity is going to lead to something good then it is really hard to stick with it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You see, as humans we have a couple of cool super powers that we need to tap into if we want to live the lives we really want…or at least not quit BJJ.
The first is one I’ve touched on already, which is the ability to change your reality. The story you are telling yourself isn’t “real”, it is just a reflection of how you see the world. You can change that story and, as a result, your reality.
This is how people make lasting changes – they start to tell themselves a story that makes it impossible not to change. If you see yourself as the kind of person who doesn’t make excuses and appreciates how the process of training BJJ will help you then you have no choice but make time for it.
The second super power is the ability to manipulate the future. You can do things now that will pay off down the road, with Jiu-Jitsu and strength training as two of the best examples of this.
Sure, you won’t see results in the first workout or maybe even the first couple of weeks but in 6 months you’ll be a different person. 6 months will come and go either way, but you can do things today that will improve your future self out.
But, like I said, you have to be like Z and find the way of seeing that world that makes these choices self-evident. You can’t see the world the same way and just take on different habits, you have to change your perspective in a way that makes those habits easier to adopt.
And that’s really the hardest part. As a coach I wish I had something to tell you that would flip that switch for you, but the truth finding that switch is part of the journey.
Everyone has to find what motivates them to change but knowing that you can and then looking for the perspective that motivates that change is the first step.
Until next time…