Jiu-Jitsu and Business

roberto abreu cyborg mike fowler BJJ
Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu attempts a head-arm triangle attack on the leopard-headed Mike Fowler at the 2008 BJJ Mundials.

You all remember that I recently put out a call for folks to call our toll free number at 877-247-4662 to leave us a message about how jiu-jitsu helps us in our daily lives away from the mats.

I’ve received a few very interesting calls since then (thanks guys!) that I will include in an upcoming episode of The FightWorks Podcast.

This week I also received this email from a busy listener who found it easier to email than call:

I understand that if one thinks long and hard enough they can weave a metaphor relating anything to anything, but I believe the following is true from what I have observed. It may be cliché but that is only because it is true.

I work in the aerospace industry here in Southern California. The industry as a whole can be a very competitive and at times cutthroat environment.

BJJ has taught me to seek and secure position first. In business I see. all too often, colleagues make moves prematurely when they were not in the proper position to do so. I’m not speaking necessarily of position in the sense of job title or rank but more in a state of overall preparedness or mindset.

I’ve seen very competent people throughout the industry self destruct at key moments because they were not in the proper position. They might have been in the right place; they had passed to side control for instance, but they were sloppy and consequentially, they were the one to get swept or submitted.

I have learned this lesson all too well, on and off the mats. Seek and establish position first. In business, be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves or for when you can make them happen. It may take years of attempts to pass the proverbial guard in a situation at the office but when it happens, you had better be prepared to get and secure the position.

Of course the next lesson is to seek the submission. I don’t mean this in the 1987 “Wall Street” corporate raider sense. But in business, just like on the mats, there must be an objective to what one is doing or what is the point? If a business functions as a lazy grappler and only plays defense, sure it may avoid chokes or submissions but it will certainly lose in the end.

Once position is gained, that is the time to use all of that preparation to attain the desired end. On the mats it’s a choke or a joint lock, while in business its fighting for a new contract or a promotion or insert desired outcome here.

But I think overwhelmingly the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from BJJ that has proven to be the most practical in my career is knowing when to let a move go. As grapplers we are all guilty of pride and at times we have all held on to a submission attempt that we didn’t quite have for too long. While a small percentage of the time, against inexperienced opponents, we succeed; most of the time doing so is to our detriment. Again, I have been guilty in my own career of clinging to pet projects that were destined to be failures for far too long. BJJ has taught me to know when an attempt is not working and when it is time to switch to another attack.

BJJ has done so much for me in so many other ways but without writing an entire book, it would be impossible to expound on all of them. BJJ has made me lose weight, gain focus and find myself; all while in the company of great people, what more could one ask for?

Thanks for everything you do. I love the show.
A proud member of the Mighty 600,000

Thanks for the note Jay!

Do you have a story about how Brazilian jiu-jitsu has helped you in life, away from training BJJ? Call our toll free number at 877-247-4662 and let us know about it! You could win a prize!

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