Leadership on and off the Mat
About 15 years ago I was invited by Globo Network to hold a business seminar for its affiliates all over Brazil. The event would be part of an annual action plan for the company and aimed to integrate engineering, marketing, and journalism. The event happened in Foz do Iguaçu and was called “Perception and Leadership”. When I got the call, they gave me a briefing about the idea and set up a meeting with the director who had come up with it. Although I had said on the phone that it was of course possible, I really had no idea how to do that seminar/lecture. I’m accustomed to teaching technical Jiu Jitsu seminars which I do, and still do all over the world from Finland to Indonesia, from Japan to Ecuador but talking to the business world was a whole new challenge!
After that meeting which was very pleasant by the way, I was excited to try and correlate both the things that we live during training and the emotional struggle of being a businessman. Still, I had no idea how to do it. I was hired and had 30 days to prepare. The literature on this subject is almost nonexistent, so my greatest source of research was my students and their experiences. People from different areas told me their ways of dealing with problems, not only at work but in their personal lives. I began to see in all of them a certain pattern of behavior and the more advanced and experienced they were, the more similar their reactions were. It wasn’t a coincidence, but these students were (and still are) leaders in their fields of activity ranging from the financial market to the advertising industry, to traders, lawyers, and professionals. Jiu Jitsu gave them a pattern and that was the answer!
But what would these correlations be? What is the difference between a jiu-jitsu practitioner and another competent professional who does not practice?
1- Never rely on instinct, always the technique
In Jiu Jitsu, in that first lesson, I teach my students basically two things: the first is the principle of leverage that allows a much weaker and lighter person to beat a stronger and heavier opponent, and the second is never to act by instinct. I explain why. Jiu Jitsu was created precisely by watching animals fight with their instincts; movements were predictable and when we know what is going to happen, it’s easy to counteract. The same reactions always happen. Jiu Jitsu teaches you to always think faster and more accurately – this is technique.
2 – Thinking under pressure
Learning how to use technique under pressure is crucial for a leader who needs to make decisions. Jiu Jitsu will teach you this too, in the most natural way and in a fun way. Imagine a situation where you are in the middle of a workout and suffering; you’re tired, you have little air to breathe and the strangulation begins to take effect i.e the oxygenation of the brain makes it more difficult to reason. An unprepared person would probably give up in the scenario described above, however, what would happen if I told you a single movement can save you? and what if you believe that there is always a technical way out before you accept defeat? Can anything happen before the end? This is for everything !!!!
3 – The pursuit of excellence
Understand the importance of training, to pursue excellence and learn every day, regardless of how good you are; all these things are inherent in the practice of martial arts, and that creates a discipline in life that extends through your work and into anything else you intend to do.
4 – Make the dispute a healthy practice
Working in a group is something that every martial artist learns from an early age. Without your colleague next to you, you won’t go anywhere. Helping your partner to be better will also help you win, yes we dispute with our friends, and we learn to win and lose them too. I could also enumerate a series of other benefits that will make you a better leader, a better companion, and a better human being after all this is the true pursuit, but I will let you discover the rest alone!
See you on the mat! Fabio Gurgel