Jiu-jitsu blending into everyday life

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Having started training again these past couple of weeks, two significant knowledge bombs were dropped by My instructor Robbie Singh and the great Master Pedro Sauer, who came down to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood for an AMA seminar. Both BJJ Philosophies that can be readily applied to life and all its aspects. I thought they should be shared with the wider community outside of Jiu-Jitsu.

The first being “What’s hard today, will become easier tomorrow” – Master Pedro Sauer. This really struck a chord with me and my partner as we were participating in some more advanced movements at the seminar. We were both having difficulty in performing some of the techniques being taught, but we were constantly reminded by Sauer of the above. Whatever we were finding difficult at the present moment, would become easier over time. Of course, this is something that should be applied to everything in life. When starting something new, Archery, Blacksmithing, BJJ, a new position at work, etc. it is always tough at first, only with practice and exposure to it will it become easier. I myself sometimes forget that I cannot be great at everything on the first try, I must learn to love the process of failing, failing and failing again until succeeding. I think this is a big part of life, I am only just starting the journey, like a lot of others. I have seen a lot of people come into class or start something new and give up or stop showing up due to them not succeeding right away. Now, naturally sometimes, giving up on a failing business or relationship is necessary. I know I have, there has been just too much risk or toxicity to continue. There is a balance, of not giving up, but knowing when to drop the effort. However, people sometimes confuse the pain that will eventuate in them growing as the toxic pain of, let’s say, a bad relationship.  Learning this balance is something that can be only gained through experience. I have given up on a lot of things that, had I pushed through the suffering, I would have grown. So, understand that slow improvements are better than none. Which, leads on to Robbie’s comment below.

“Small movements are necessary to get to the position you want to be in.”

When performing the super base of the headlock escape 2, you have to place your shoulder into the opponents back under the shoulder blade. Often you don’t get the position on the first try since the distance you have to cover can be either too big for one solid movement, or too uncomfortable for both yourself and your partner. Since you are in a position to take your time, the small movements are advised. Once again, applying the principle to life you can take your time in most things, sometimes it is important to jump at opportunities, however, it can be more beneficial to make micro improvements. You don’t become a blue belt in a day like you don’t become a millionaire overnight. Things take time and constant effort. Together I think that both of these can be used through life, knowing that things that are difficult today will become easier tomorrow with constant small improvements.

Thank you to both of the men above for their wisdom, I continue to love learning Jiu-jitsu not just for the physical aspects but equally the mental and philosophical sides too. Good to be back training again.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you on the mats.

-Carlos

Success Patterns Can Be Found in All Things

If some of you have been following me recently you will know that I have started up archery after getting a compound bow for my birthday. And with starting something new I will usually draw on other experiences and what I can relate it too. This characteristic is something all of us do, whether we consciously do it or not. When we find patterns we create our own models from these patterns, that could be found through exploration or from learning it from an outside source. Why do we look for patterns to add to our model? Well simply for survival, maybe we can cover that in another post. But, in this case, I’m about to talk about. It’s for the sake of becoming better at something new.

So, shooting a projectile with a string attached to a stick is something very new to me. I never made my own bow as a kid, nor have I shot a rifle or firearm before. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne the closest thing to a rifle I had was nerf guns. Not exactly high tech. So, I really don’t know what I’m doing, I have a small understanding of it. Pull the arrow back and let it go, but as green as you can get. So, I go in for my first lesson (down at Aim Archery Moorabbin), get taught the basics, finger placement, how to aim, the arc trajectory of a recurve bow (also known as tradition bow), anchor points, range safety, etc. If you do make the way down to the range George is a great teacher, spends his time with you and really gets you to improve over the session.

However, you won’t improve if you don’t listen and be the student. Here is one pattern that I have noticed in my performance when starting new things. If I am listening and really paying attention to what is being taught, then I will improve at a higher rate. For instance, when I was learning Spanish at university I never really paid attention, I would either be chatting with friends or on my phone. This is no way to learn something, if you want to perform and advance you have to be willing to learn. So, be open to criticism, correct your form, and try again. Someone else can’t learn it for you. When you are a good student, often the teacher will be more attentive to you, I saw this with a kid at high school, He would show interest and ask a lot of questions, he would often get a lot more attention from the teacher. Not because the teacher hated every other student, it’s just that they found the easiest mind to teach.

Anchor points are a big part of archery, especially if you want to get consistent results. Anchor points, are reference points that you use when at full draw for proper sight alignment. The most common points archer’s use and string touching the tip of the nose, the webbing between the thumb and pointer finger and a kisser button (a small loop on the string that meets the corner of the lip.) They allow you to pull the bow back, find your points, sight the target and release. Nevertheless, they will not work if you aren’t consistent with the placement of them. Which, is another pattern I have noticed for the relative success of the task or subject you are learning. Consistency will produce results, either good or bad. If you are consistently setting on your anchor points, your arrow will fly true, then it is only a matter of adjusting your sight. If your anchor points are changing constantly then you will get consistently poor results. Of course, the other part of consistency is to practice.

Often when shooting, I can sometimes throw myself off, either I get a bit too big headed after nailing the bull’s eye and punch (to stuff up) my next shot or I focus on the mistake of the previous shot and punch it again. My most recent lesson has produced a bit of wisdom from George, after two bad shots in a row, I was a bit annoyed with myself and expressed it with George, he told me, “You can only focus on the arrow you have nocked (arrow currently ready to shoot).” And this is something that carries into other disciplines, BJJ, you can only focus on the current technique or position and the escapes, sweeps, and submissions possible. Like in blacksmithing, for better results, focus on each hit, one at a time, each heat.

Just some thoughts and patterns I have noticed and experienced in multiple disciplines, that can be applied to all aspects of life, career, study, gym, martial arts, relationships, whatever else you can think of. If you want to learn quickly and get better results sooner, then try to find similarities between how you have succeeded in past pursuits and apply what you have learned there to your new career, hobby or passion. And a quote from the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

If you know the Way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

Cya on the mats!

Carlos

4 things to do while injured

Well, unfortunately, I have injured myself, after having gone through the year with minimal damage my luck has run out. That leaves me only doing upper body in the gym, mostly off the mats, and shooting my bow. So, with all this extra time that would otherwise be used on either gym or BJJ, I have decided to make a list of 5 things to do when limited by an injury. I am going to assume that you have already been to a specialist for your injury, this list is more about how you go about

  1. Work with what you got.

First and for most, do what you can. If you have a pulled hammy, focus on working on your upper body, if you have an injured rotator cuff, focus on leg exercises. When drilling or rolling, use only one hand or leg. However, do not push yourself to cause further injury. If doing something has the chance of severely affecting the injured area, I would suggest to not do it until once the area starts to get closer to 100%

  1. Do as much as you can to heal.

SEE A SPECIALIST FIRST… and do the exercises they give you. This is something that a lot of people don’t do. I didn’t when I was younger, I would be given exercises or treatments by the physiotherapist. However, I wouldn’t do them as I felt that the injury wasn’t getting better after one or two days of doing them. Now, I tend to do them as recommended by the physio, and upping the difficulty as the injury heals. For my current injury, a strained/pulled hamstring, I have been rolling out my quads, calves and IT Band (Iliotibial Band) to relieve the tension that each group is placing on the hamstring. When dealing with strain injuries one of the worst things you can do it stretch. As a strain is a slight tear of the muscle when you stretch the tear will worsen as it’s the weakest point in the muscle, a critical point of failure so to speak. Stretching when not injured however is a must to help prevent injury.

  1. Spend time on another hobby.

Try to look at the positive. If your injury limits you in one aspect of a hobby the work on another hobby. With my current situation, I have been shooting my bow more and getting in some good practice. I have been able to spend more time reading books and giving more time to this blog.

Your injury may leave you not being able to do any of your hobbies. So, my answer, pick up a new one, might be origami, could be learning a new language, whatever you think you will enjoy and will be challenged by.

  1. Learn a new life skill.

You got so much time on your hands, do something productive. Sounds boring I know but could learn more about finance, or how to cook, or maybe you could look into research about your injury and on how to treat and prevent it. Learn how to write code, how to bake, or maybe how to build a business.

 

A short post today, if you are currently injured and have taken something useful from this that’s awesome and I wish you a speedy recovery. Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.

Change and Growth

I have written about change before. Relating change and how often we fear it and how to combat the fear by coming up with our worst-case scenario and then deconstructing it. Fear-setting as described by Tim Ferris. I pretty much wanted to share with people something I had found to be useful. However, this post will be more personal as I will recount how I have been able to utilize change and take on the challenge of loving change.

Like I have said before change is inevitable, life is always constantly changing. You may hear news of a family member having their first child, you may hear an old acquaintance just passed away, you may have been fired from your job, your sister or brother may have just started playing gigs with their band. All of these things are changes, some the people have little to zero say in them, other times they have all the power in their hands to make the decision to change. However, in both cases, It is still up to the individual on how they perceive their current reality. Take for instance the person who just lost their job, they have multiple options on how they react and the ultimate decision they take. They could turn to the bottle and begin the downward spiral into depression, or they could use the lack of a job as a sign to look into other careers. Ultimately it is up to them what path they take. This in itself is the scariest part of change, knowing that no one else can make the choice for you, which is why often to avoid the decision people tend to walk the wrong path. Not because they chose it, but because they didn’t choose to take a different one.

In change, this is where we can find growth. Growth does not come from sitting idle, it comes from overcoming obstacles. Through my teen years, I did not understand this fully, I didn’t understand that being idle and sitting on the bus of life, so to speak, will not allow me to grow or where I want to be in life. The bus will take me to a destination that I may not necessarily like, to the wrong side of town that I will be more likely to drown in than to flourish. My dad often used this bus analogy to explain life, if you don’t like the bus your on, get off and get on the one you want, you may even have to go back to a previous destination to get to the one you do want to go to. Once I realized that a science degree was not for me, I got off that bus and worked for a bit, then I went back to school and have now arrived at a destination that I like a fair bit better.

I strongly believe that the times that we grow the most are in times of challenge and change. One, you can use those hurdles as an example that you can overcome the trials now before you, and two, that you can use them as stepping stones to take on more of life. Of course, you are not the only one overcoming things, and people before you have already overcome your current challenge. A big part of my growth has been seeking out people who have already walked the path I want to walk down and talking to, listening or reading about them, and see how I could incorporate the knowledge gained to my own experiences. If you find the task of choosing the first/next person you read about, my advice is: pick the two you want to read about the most, flip a coin, if you don’t like the outcome initially pick the other.

What do I do when my life changes and I don’t like the new situation I’m in? From my experience, it depends on the situation. When I was having tests done to see if they could find more tumors, the only thing I could control was my attitude toward everything. I would make my best effort to always smile while in hospital, always try to either make someone laugh or laugh at my circumstances. The key was making the situation a positive one. After all, I wouldn’t have a say in the results, the only thing I could have a say in was to go through with the precautionary surgery. In terms of not enjoying my new job initially, I once again took control of how I perceived the situation, I looked at the good things and found a way to make it enjoyable. So, overall, I would say, that no matter the situation you find yourself in. Find something in it to make it enjoyable or rewarding, focus on the small positives that you may find and amplify them. You can control the perspective you use to look at the world. My recommendation, choose the positive one.

Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.

~Carlos

5-takeaways: Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

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I know the title is a bit ‘extreme’ (sorry had to), however, the book lives up to the words on the front cover. The authors Willink and Babin are former US Navy SEALS that lead the most highly decorated task units in one of the most violent and deadliest battlefields in Iraq. A notable operator that served under them was Chris Kyle whose life story during and after the war was made into a movie, “American Sniper”. In Ramadi, Iraq Willink and Babin learned that a vital part of the success or failure on the battlefield was – at every level – leadership. Once they returned home they would go into SEAL leadership training as instructors, where they would further develop their ideas on leadership. With a lot of things learned and how leadership can bring about the success on the battlefield, the authors launched a company that specializes in teaching leadership principles to businesses and organizations. With a plethora of testing their principles in the business world and experience in the field, Willink and Babin have put together a great book that I have drawn a lot of knowledge from. Here are my takeaways from Extreme Ownership.

  1. Take Ownership and be Responsible.

I used to think that I took ownership, I realized while reading this book that I was terribly wrong. I would blame a lot of my aggression and the outcome of certain aspects of my environment on other people. When I started to own my mistakes and not blame others for things in my control I noticed a greater shift in my confidence and my ability to focus in on the task at hand. I wouldn’t let myself blame outside influences or other people for my situation. I used to blame my dad for my habitual procrastination, that inhibited my performance at school and university. Now looking back on it this was just a way for me to excuse my laziness. Willink recounts one operation that had gone pear-shaped, two elements were heavily engaged, however, not with the enemy but with each other.

“At that moment, it all became clear. In the chaos and confusion, somehow a rogue element of Iraqi soldiers had strayed outside the boundaries to which they had been confined and attempted to enter the building occupied by our SEAL sniper team.” – Jocko Willink

This situation is not uncommon during times of war, and fratricide is one of the worst things that can happen in war. Now, most people would say, “it’s clearly the Iraqi’s fault, they should’ve stayed in the boundary.” However, when Willink was putting a debrief together for his Commanding Officer(CO), Command Master Chief(CMC) and an investigating officer, even though many individuals made serious mistakes. What transpired during the debrief was as the leader of the operation, Willink took full responsibility for the outcome, as he puts it, he was the senior man and as the commander, he is ultimately responsible for every action that takes place on the battlefield.

In taking ownership and responsibility for the blue-on-blue, Willink actually increased the trust his CO and CMC had in him. I think a lot of people think the opposite will happen if they take ownership, that others will see them as failures or weak for owning up to a mistake. More often than not, trust is gained by speaking the truth and being responsible for yourself and your situation.

  1. Prioritize and Execute.

Babin describes a hairy situation he and his team found themselves in. An identified IED(improvised explosive device) threat that they had rigged to blow, out on an unsheltered rooftop, with a man down who had fallen 20-feet. Babin had to tackle multiple problems at once, if you have read my review on The One Thing, by Gary Keller then you would know that multitasking is a great way to decrease the chance of success. Babin knows that he has to keep calm and not become overwhelmed and risk failing at all the challenges in front of him. By focusing on the most important thing at one given time, he could effectively get his team out without casualties and calmly move through each obstacle.

“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail at each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute.” – Lief Babin

  1. Decentralized Command.

“Pushing the decision making down to the subordinate, frontline leaders within the task unit was critical to our success. This Decentralized Command structure allowed me, as commander, to maintain focus on the bigger picture: coordinate friendly assets and monitor enemy activity. Were I to get embroiled in the details of a tactical problem, there would be no one else to fill my role and manage the strategic mission.” – Jocko Willink

This is one of the most useful of the principles in business, as it means the more senior leaders can concentrate on the bigger picture elements or facets of the business while lower-level managers can deal with the more detailed things. I have found that I do things better when I am given a task and left to figure out how to take on the challenge. The manager trusts me enough to not hover over me and tell me what to do. On the flip side, however, if I had someone telling me how to take it on, I then find it hard to overcome a problem that both myself and my micromanager did not foresee as I am not thinking like them and would feel more obliged to ask them for help. If I am trusted to come up with a solution, then I know that I can take on the challenge and as long as I can explain my process to them I don’t need to bother them until the task is completed.

This principle can be hard for people to grasp, as I know in certain situations I have had to let others think and do for themselves. Being able to trust in others and let them come up with their own solutions and giving them tips when they ask for it is a massive part of how I have stopped myself trying to control the situation. When the subordinate or new student at BJJ is just starting out, I will be a bit more hands-on with them, since they haven’t got a clue to what they are doing, however, as they start to get the technique or move I back off and only give any input when needed, like if they forget a big step.

  1. Keep it Simple.

When things are simple they are easier to understand and convey, when things are simple they can change with fewer pieces to move, when things a simple they can be remembered even when in difficult or challenging situations, the list goes on. You can see, there are a few reasons to keep things simple. On the flip side, if you over complicate things, they are harder to grasp, and complexities can be misinterpreted, unless every nuance is perfect then failure is usually the outcome. For instance, one of the businesses that Babin and Willink worked with had just brought in a new bonus plan, where the workers in the warehouse would receive bonuses for how many of each unit they would assemble based on the complexity of the model. However, none of the workers knew how each unit was scored and could not understand why some weeks they would be paid more than other weeks.

After noting the complexity of the plan, the authors suggested that the manager and chief engineer simplify the plan so ‘the lowest common denominator’ could understand the process and would be able to work in more efficient manner. After creating a plan with only two parts to it, the employees were able to understand this new simplified plan, efficiency went up along with productivity and success.

“Simple: this principle isn’t limited to the battlefield. In the business world, and life, there are inherent complexities. It is critical to keep plans and communication simple. Following this rule is crucial to the success of any team in any combat, business or life.” – Jocko Willink

  1. Discipline Equals Freedom.

This has to be my favorite takeaway from this book. Three words can convey so much. I will acknowledge that it is a bit of a backwards statement. How in what world does discipline equal freedom. This would have to do with the fact that so many people relate discipline to being super strict on your diet or on workouts or the wooden spoon. So, discipline is anything but freedom. However, it is through discipline that freedom can be achieved.

If you are disciplined in what you eat, how you exercise, how you treat other, how you operate in business. For instance, in my line of work, I need to be disciplined in my methods, the mark that I setout has to be spot on, as a pre-cast panel will be fitted on my mark. If my mark is out, then the panel won’t fit and the construction will stall. Through being disciplined with my accuracy I know that the panel will fit and if questions are asked about my marks I know they are solid. It gives me the freedom to say in confidence that the panel sits there.

“But with our new, disciplined method, we could execute raids and complete our searches so quickly that we could now hit two and sometimes even three targets in a single night, all while keeping evidence separate and organized. Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

Overall this book conveys principles and effective ways of leading in a way that you don’t often see, with the principle being used in combat and then translated to business. Not only can these principles be applied to business but life, anyone looking for a quick and easy read with lots of action but also lessons, or for anyone wanting to lead I highly recommend this book. Jocko Willink also has a podcast where he breaks down books on war and has other military vets on, for those who are not inclined to reading. This is one of my favorite passages from the book:

“Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning. I say “first alarm clock” because I have three… one electric, one battery powered, one windup. That way, there is no excuse for not getting out of bed, especially with all that rests on that decisive moment. The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win – you pass the test.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Link to Jocko Podcast: Here

Video of Discipline Equals Freedom: Here

Why the change?

I have recently changed the name of the site to carlosygoa.com since I felt that readnroll.blog limited me in what I could and could not post about, I am in no way shape or form moving away from what I have been doing. This is just an update about the change. I Hope that you all understand.

Thanks

Carlos

5-takeaways: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout

With over 40 years of marketing expertise between them, Al Ries and Jack Trout have produced the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. For any person or business wanting to sell a product or service give this little book a read, it will pay dividends. There is a multitude of historical examples of marketing going right and it going very wrong, the examples provided are over 20 years old but still help prove Ries and Trout’s unchangeable laws that govern marketing. Here are my takeaways from this little book.

  1. Be first, either in a new category or in the consumer’s mind.

If you are trying to provide a service or product being first is the most important part. Of course, if you can’t be the first you, to succeed you must either create a new category or make it that you are the first in the minds of the consumer. Being the first in the mind usually goes to the first in the marketplace, however, if you can’t make a person perceive you as the company with the best product or service it is much harder to change that opinion. Apple wasn’t the first to the computer marketplace, or mobile phone, for that matter. Why is it one of the largest companies in both fields, well simply, it’s the first thing that people associate to either category. It’s easier to remember the first position holder than it is to remember the second or third. Who’s the second fastest man on earth currently? To be honest I’m not sure. If you can own the first spot either in the category or the mind, then the success of you/the company becomes much easier.

  1. Be focused.

By focusing on one thing, for example, you might own a company that specializes in one thing like engineering. And everyone knows that your company is the top in your field, everyone comes to you for all their engineering needs, as Reis and Trout put it, engineering is “your word”. You start to grow with your success, so you decide to branch out into other fields, let’s say like construction, but there is already a great construction company. So, since you know that you must be first in the client’s mind for construction you spend millions on advertising to try to compete with the competition. However, since you are already associated with being great engineers the could-be-clients don’t recognize you as a great construction company, so no matter how much you spend on advertising your company will never make it into the first spot.

“This was the case with Atari, which owned the words video game. But the business turned out to be faddish – (foresight is 20×20)-, so in 1982 it sailed off in a new direction. It wanted Atari to mean computers. CEO James Morgan laid it all out: “Atari’s strength as a name also tends to be its weakness. It is synonymous with video games. Atari must redefine its image and broaden its business definition to electronic consumer products.”

Of course, we all now know how that played out. Not too great for Atari, if only they focused more on their One Thing, Video Games, then the world of gaming might look incredibly different. Atari’s problem stems from the next point.

  1. Remove your ego.

As we see in the example above Atari’s success went to their heads, and instead of committing to their long-term success, they went to chase the short-term gain. They felt that with their already famous name they could branch out into another category that at the time was already owned by IBM a giant in the computer industry.

“Ego is the enemy of successful marketing.”

Ego causes more problems in all aspects of life than it does correct them. The same can be applied to marketing. You may think that from previous success that you will be able to branch out into another field, this could not be further from the truth. Some companies can do it, such as Apple, however, their words aren’t computers, phones or tablets, its innovation. Because everyone associates them with innovation it allows them to break out into new categories, and as long as they are innovating then they will succeed.

  1. Keep it simple.

“Apple’s problem in getting into its prospects’ minds was helped by its simple, easy-to-remember name. On the other hand, Apple’s competitors had complicated names that were difficult to remember. In the early days, five personal computers were in position on the launching pad: Apple II, Commodore Pet, IMSAI 8080, MITS Altair 8800, and Radio Shack TRS-80. Ask yourself, which name is the simplest and easiest to remember?”

If you are going to market something, don’t make your job any harder than it needs to be. Keep it simple, for example, Apple – “Think Different”, McDonald’s – “I’m Lovin’ It”, Woolworths – “The Fresh Food People”. The list goes on. Simple product, simple slogan, simple marketing, the easier it is to remember the higher chance of getting into and staying in the minds of the consumer. Of course, to keep it simple you must…

  1. Make some sort of sacrifice, to get the things you want.

This ties in with point No.2, Not only must you focus but you must give something up. This not only relates to marketing, but to life. If you want to spend more time with your loved ones, or you want to post more on your blog, you must give something up. I know that I have lapsed on posting regularly recently, I have not prioritized my time well and I have turned my focus to other things, starting a new job being one thing. Sacrifices can be conscious decisions, however, a vast majority of people and companies let their circumstances dictate their attention. If you really want something you must make some sort of sacrifice. Time, money, other products, sleep, food or other hobbies. You want to have a successful product but want to chase other short-term trends to get quick profit, you will lose long-term. You want to become better at jiu-jitsu but also want to spend time at the gym, choose one over the other, or create time for both by making sacrifices in other areas.

These are only my thoughts on the book, I am no marketing expert or claim to have used these laws yet. I recommend anyone in a business of any sort to give it a read as you will benefit from it, either to improve on your product or service and your current marketing strategies. This is only a quick one, hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Fixing yourself does more than you think it does.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, I know this idea is not new and I have been reading books and listening to people who share this view a lot. However, I have started to really understand why improving on yourself is more important than I first thought. So, have you ever been in a situation where you can see the answer for someone else’s problem but no matter what you do you will never be able to get them to fix it or change? I have a lot, and I expect to be in more of these situations the older I get. But having learned from past experiences I know there is nothing I can do to directly make them change or make them do something. Yet, there is one thing I can do that will affect them. I can keep on improving myself because as I get better, I then become an example of how improving yourself is the best way forward.

If you don’t improve that’s fine too but know this, no-one is holding you back but yourself. So, no use pointing blame at others (which gives them the power). And that is a hard pill to swallow, knowing that you have to take the outcome of your life into your own hands, that you are directly at fault for how your future pans out. Now I know that you could come from a fractured home, or you could have had cancer, or you were in a car crash but all of that is in the past and you can’t change it. What you can change however is where you are going and how you choose to react to things. I could have the view that the world sucks and why did I have to get one-third of my bowels removed? why couldn’t someone else have had cancer? But then I lost the battle. I have to look at my experience with positive eyes and realize I had to endure that to understand something. Life is a gift, it can be taken at any moment.

As you start to put yourself together into who you want to be, then you can help others, but more importantly, others will see that it is possible. So, by taking responsibility for your part of the world, no matter how small, others may do the same with their part and together you will both help improve the world.

These are just some late night ramblings.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

 

~~Carlos

5-takeaways: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

This book is a classic of the self-help/self-improvement/relationship advice genre, the author Dale Carnegie has influenced many leaders, like Warren Buffet and Tony Robbins. Dale Carnegie made it by tapping into the average American’s desire to become more self-confident, where he taught classes on the topics of public speaking, sales, relationships, and leadership among others. These classes became the basis for his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is well regarded as one of the top books on creating success in both business and personal life. I actually read this book at the start of my journey of improving myself and still try my best to use what I have learnt from it. Here are my 5-takeaways from this classic.

  1. Do not criticise, condemn or complain. Give honest appreciation for all improvement, no matter how small.

When someone starts critiquing you on your job, or on something you hold dear to your heart, how often do you try to defend your actions, no matter how ‘in the wrong’ you are. You see others do this just the same when you offer up your judgment on their action, they will adamantly explain how they are not at fault. “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself… it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.” When you are told you are wrong most times out of ten you will hold a feeling of resentment towards that person, I know I do it a lot and have to check myself and remember that they might be right.

On the flip side when someone is making gains in an area it is imperative that you compliment them, no matter how small the improvement. Carnegie references the experiments conducted by B.F. Skinner who tested the learning methods of reward vs punishment in animals, noting that the rate and effectiveness that rewarding good behavior had over punishing bad behavior. “By criticizing we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.”

  1. If you want a change in others, first start by changing yourself.

Pointing blame at others is the easy thing to do in most situations, it is harder to take a good look at yourself, your actions and how you react to what other people do. Of course, most people think this is the harder path and it would be easier for the other person to change, which would be a false assumption. Like my dad always says, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’ This is true of people, no matter what you try to do or how much time and effort you put in, a person will only change of their own accord.

“Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favour of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others – yes, and a lot less dangerous. ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof.’ Said Confucious, ‘when your own doorstep is unclean.’”

  1. Make someone feel important/needed if you want them to do something. Make it their Idea.

If you do want someone to change or you want them to complete a task the best thing to do in any given situation is to get them involved in the planning process. Make them feel needed and an integral part of the success of the project. Carnegie references American philosopher John Dewey who said “that the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’” Everyone wants to be the hero of their movie. Carnegie includes multiple stories about students reporting back to him of their endeavors, all relating his teachings and how well they have worked. By being interested in the other person’s hobbies or making workers feel important in some fashion, they have gained something that they would not have otherwise. From a puppy for a child to a better relationship with the subordinates who outperform their previous efforts.

“No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about our wishes, our wants, our thought.”

Instead of trying to force an idea on someone, or forcing them to buy a product, get them involved. Like most of the points that Carnegie makes he includes a plethora of stories and anecdotes one that jumped out was a story of an X-ray equipment manufacturer. He sent a letter to the local hospital who had a number of other sales reps selling their equipment. The letter as follows:

                “Our factory has recently completed a new line of X-ray equipment. The first shipment of these machines has just arrived at our office, They are not perfect. We know that, and we want to improve them. So we should be deeply obligated to you if you could find the time to look them over and give us your ideas about how they can be made more serviceable to your profession. Knowing how occupied you are, I shall be glad to send my car for you at any hour you specify.”

The letter made the leading doctor feel important, and upon reviewing the equipment he ordered that it be installed. The manufacturer didn’t have to sell the doctor their product, he discovered the superior qualities himself.

  1. Listen and show interest in others.

People often want to become better at conversing with others and think their answer lies in getting better at speaking, However, Carnegie explains that it’s the complete opposite. Listening is the key to becoming a better conversationalist. Most, if not all, people want to feed their ego and talk about themselves. And that fine. Let them, they will love you for it.  Carnegie relays a story from a dinner party he attended, where he struck up a conversation with a botanist, he made the point to listen and show a great deal of interest in the man’s work. At the end of the night, the botanist told the host that Carnegie was ‘most stimulating’ and that he was a ‘most interesting conversationalist’ of course Carnegie barely talked.

“To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

Since reading this I have found this to be true, show a genuine interest in them and they will appreciate it like nothing else.

  1. Admit when you are wrong.

This is something I had a lot of trouble with before reading this book, I still have my moments but I try my hardest to take on board others criticism and admit when I have fucked up. At first, this point didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, why would I admit I am wrong, even if I was not totally at fault. This thought came from my ego, came from a place that didn’t want my pride to be damaged.

“If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn’t it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?”

I now, instead of defending my position, do try to hold true to this principle put forth by Carnegie. It helps in all situations, the workplace, with my girlfriend, family and friends alike. So, drop the attitude, don’t let your ego be your amigo, really check yourself. You will be wrong more times than you are right. This, however, WILL NOT WORK if you don’t truly take it upon yourself to see that you are at fault and you don’t mean to correct the problem or situation.

These are only 5 points from this book, which is jam-packed full of goodies on not only how to win friends and influence people, but to become a better leader, one that can inspire and help others grow. This classic will always be one of my recommended books for all to read, even if it takes you a while to get through it, Carnegie’s lessons and principles last a lifetime of use. I know that it will be a book I go back to regularly. Here is one of my favourite quotes (one of many):

“That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races, and hog-calling, and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

5-takeaways: The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi is regarded as the best Japanese swordsman/Samurai holding an undefeated record in his 61 duels. He not only was a wandering swordsman (ronin), but a writer and philosopher. He was the founder of the Niten-Ichi-Ryu-School, a style of swordsmanship where two swords are used. In his later years he wrote The Book of Five Rings, in which he “defends his thesis: a man who conquers himself is ready to take on the world, should the need arise.” (from the blurb on the back). The Book of Five Rings is considered alongside The Art of War, by Sun-Tzu, as one of the few books that cover the laws combat and more than that cover the laws of life. Here are my 5 takeaways from this classic.

  1. Know not only your abilities and limitations, but those of others.

Knowing your limitations means you can also know your strengths. So, you know when to ask for help or speak up when you don’t know how to do something. Musashi relates carpentry to the way of the sword, “The foreman should take into account the abilities and limitations of his men, circulating among them and asking nothing unreasonable. He should know their morale and spirit, and encourage them when necessary.” However, this can be applied across life. When you ask for the help of others, or when you are in a leadership role, you can organize people into roles in which they will thrive. This can also work in going against someone else. They will be defiant in their beliefs and will hold strong in opposition to them, so to know their limitations or weaknesses that will allow you to come at them from a different angle.

  1. Have the ability to view both the details and the big picture, be able to switch between the two.

Being able to detach and look at the big picture enables you to take stock of what you have done, what you are currently doing, and what you have to do. Giving you the overall picture, not only that but letting you really think about what you are doing and how to make it easier to achieve your next task or overall goal.

“What is big is easy to perceive: what is small is difficult to perceive. In short, it is difficult for large numbers of men to change position so their movements can be easily predicted. An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are difficult to predict.”

Look at big goals, they are easy to understand, but the smaller you go the harder you must think about how it pieces together with other goals and tasks. However, when you can focus on the task at hand you are able to complete it quickly, whereas the larger goals need to be done over a longer period of time.

  1. Winning or success requires constant small improvements.

Throughout the whole book, Miyamoto finishes a lot of his paragraphs with lines like this:

“You must learn this through repetitive practice.” Or “You must study this well.” Or “With detailed practice you should understand it.” or “You must train constantly.”

So, it’s fair to say that he believes in constant and detailed practice, it might be a technique or strategy, but he really harps on this point. To get the desired results, you must put in the constant hard work. “Men must polish their particular way.” This can be applied in all aspects of life, you want to be better at your job, or you want to build a successful stock portfolio, or you want to lose 10kgs. Constant small improvements will determine if you succeed in achieving your goal.

  1. Live life fully. Don’t hesitate.

“This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet drawn.” Miyamoto is talking about when in a swordfight you want to use everything you can at your disposal, however, life could be viewed as a swordfight. You could look at your potential as your weapon in life, and why wouldn’t you want to see yourself using your highest potential. Giving all you have to whatever task is in front of you.

Of course, not unlocking your potential or waiting for the opportune time is not good either. “Waiting is bad.” As above, you need to work on it constantly, “step by step walk the thousand-mile road.”

  1. Train your body, mind, and spirit.

Keep your mind sharp so you can perform in stressful environments, keep your body strong to be able to move how you want, and the spirit or heart must be able to push through the challenges you will face. Go to the gym, read books, study philosophy, write out your goals, listen to podcasts, meditate, whatever you have to do to improve yourself. Back to the constant improvement, just a little at a time.

“Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.”

Of course, if you lack training in one of these three, you will not be able to perform at a higher standard. You could be strong and have a large spirit or will, however, you could be bested by a person with a sharper mind. Conversely, if you are smart and strong you could be bested by a person with more will. It is like in jiu-jitsu, you want to have both strong defense and strong offense, if you lack in one, you will not be able to transition to your stronger aspect.

Hope you enjoyed my 5 takeaways from Miyamoto Musashi, like always I left a lot out, even though this book is less than 60 pages. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from this classic.

“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.