Want to know the #1 thing that can make a difference in your BJJ journey?
While the physical stuff is important, the #1 thing is actually your mindset. Until you get things straight between the ears the rest of the body doesn’t really matter.
Of course, this isn’t news to a lot of you. Most of us have heard this in some form or another during our BJJ journey, ranging from warnings about the ego to keeping the long term in mind when faced with setbacks.
But while we get bits and pieces of it, what exactly does this mindset look like? Can you define it in a way that makes it easy for anyone to start using it?
Luckily the answer is “yes”. Thanks to the science behind elite athletes and Navy SEALS we can define what this mindset is…and it may surprise you.
It all comes down to a simple question – are you a Pessimist or an Optimist?
That’s right, how you interpret things when the world gives you lemons is the #1 predictor of how likely you are to stick with something hard like BJJ.
However, far from the touchy-feely hippie stuff that usually goes with these terms, the way we’re talking about them has a concrete definition that can apply.
A Pessimist says:
This happens all the time
Things will never change
It is all my fault
An Optimist says:
This won’t last forever
There is a specific reason for what happened
It wasn’t my fault, I just made a mistake and can learn from it
In this context the terms make perfect sense – if you feel like things always suck, will never get better and you are a terrible person because of it then you’re motivation level isn’t going to be super high. I mean, who would want to stick with something hard if there isn’t any hope?
But if you feel like things will get better and you can learn from the experience to help you improve in the long run then you have some hope, which makes it much easier to stick with something.
An Optimist’s mindset is also closely related to the “Growth Mindset” needed to learn. If you see things as a puzzle to be solved rather than a situation to be endured then you will automatically start seeking ways to learn instead of excuses to make yourself feel better.
This also applies to starting a training program (had to tie it into the strength training stuff somehow, right?). Approaching a training program as an opportunity to learn more about how to use your body to its maximum potential is much more interesting than slogging through another workout because “you need to”.
On a side note, I got the idea for this article while reading the book Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker. It’s a great book with lots of insights you can apply to BJJ and life.
Make sure you’re keeping the right mindset and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the journey more, which will make you more likely to stick with it. While it’s a tough journey, a little optimism can go a long way.
Until next time…
BJJ Strength Training