I am sitting listening to the Joe Rogan MMA Show #107 with Georges St. Pierre, and it is awesome to say the least. He is one of the greatest martial artists of all time, and he is quite open in this interview about many things. One of the things that Rogan points out, and GSP expands upon is the idea that what hurts you the most is not when you lose, but when you give up. When you allow yourself to give up, to quit before the mission is accomplished, this can be more personally damaging than a loss.
As a huge UFC fan, I was quite familiar with all of the things they spoke of, and especially the fights of his career. He spoke of his loss to Matt Serra, considered by many as the biggest upset of all time. When he lost that fight, he made a couple of mistakes that he shares:
1. His ego got in the way after the first hard punch that was landed on him. He shared that he was rocked by the first punch, but the real problem was that he reacted with his ego. He wanted to take back the power that had been taken from him with that one punch, but this made him more vulnerable. Matt Serra hits him with three or four more punches and the fight was over.
2. This loss was VERY important for the rest of his career. It taught him how to better handle getting rocked (he says this never happened to him before) but also that he NEVER EVER wanted to feel that same feeling of loss ever again.
Now this is not exactly in line with the picture I chose for this blog reflects. He did not say he felt like he quit in that fight; he got knocked out. But after sharing that experience, he stated, and Rogan agreed, that it is more damaging to quit than to lose. I completely agree. If there is one thing that I can say I did a great job of during my career as a Pro Racquetball player, and then in life in general, was to never quit.
Now, let me clarify this statement by saying that yes, I have quit things in the past. I have undertaken tasks that I ended up moving away from for one reason or another. But what I am talking about is to get into a training or competitive scenario and give up due to fatigue, lack of will, or other manufactured excuses. Somehow I was able to find a way to have another gear when I needed it. If you want to listen to a specific example of this from one of my training sessions, you can do that here. Where does this come from? I can’t really know this for sure, but I can PROMISE you that this ability gives a massive advantage. I do believe that it is a developed skill, and that it feeds off of itself. If you can get yourself to fight through the desire to quit once, you can do it again. EVERY time you do this, you increase your capacity to fight through that in the future. You dig this well deeper every time you succeed in fighting through the desire to quit.
We can be our own worst enemy or our biggest advocate. The good news is, in almost every case, the choice is yours.
This truly is within everyone’s capacity, to varying degrees of course. Not everyone can become a champion in a particular endeavor, but I do believe that each of us can be better than the version of us from yesterday. This takes personal discipline and a willingness to bear some pain. That’s really all it takes, even though that is not a simple thing. But you don’t have to run a marathon your first time out; you need to run to the end of the block, and then tomorrow run one more step further. You have to build this capacity incrementally, and that may be the part that people miss. This is where sports can play a big part in developing the skills I am referring to.
One of the things I am so grateful for in my background is starting out as a wrestler. Although I didn’t do it for long, I learned an awful lot in the time I was involved in the sport and more importantly in my time around the sport. I was surrounded by people who developed a high pain tolerance and a willingness to bear any temporary pain for a victory that would last forever. My Dad was an accomplished wrestler, and the lifestyle I grew up with reflected the type of discipline necessary to push myself. And when I say push, there were times that I needed someone else to step in and stop me, otherwise I may have had something bad happen to me. Seriously, by the time I was deep into my competitive career I was willing to endure more pain and more suffering than many ELITE LEVEL ATHLETES, not just people in general. I wasn’t born that way, I developed that skill over time, and enhanced it to the point of it being one of if not my best weapons.
But I wasn’t perfect at this. There were times where I did give up, quit early, took the easy way out. And to this day I remember those isolated incidents and how I felt afterwards. There is nothing to be ashamed of in these scenarios, IF you learn and grow from them. If you can short-circuit the process and not let it happen again, then you are moving the right direction. I left trophies on the table and left goals unachieved when I fell short. But the other thing I did which helped me which was to learn from those experiences and I do my best to not repeat that process again. I internalized those feelings of failure, of self defeat and of giving up and I allowed them to burn inside of me. I used this as fuel to train, to push harder. I used it to make me better.
Sports are an easy analogy to use for things like this, but it applies to everyday life too. I use this same approach in my work career as well. I am willing to outwork most people to achieve what I want. Although there are times when you can work smarter instead of harder, in some cases it is just how much work you can do in a given time that will move the needle. In these instances I can reflect back to the pain and suffering I have endured before, and know that this is unlikely to compare. If it does, I know that I have been there before, and I can do it again. I cannot encourage you enough to undertake difficult things to build your own resistance to giving up. Yoga, running, a new sport, painting your house…whatever it is that defines as a difficult task that you undertake, and then see it through no matter what, that’s what I am talking about. These tasks afford you daily practice on beating the resistance. THAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.