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Jiu-Jitsu & Building a Business – A 4-Part Series (Part 4)

Always Get Back to it

As with any worthy endeavor, there’s often a long game and a short game, each requiring different discipline and focus while recognizing they are intertwined for success.  When running a business there’s always a balancing act of managing the long-term goals and what is needed each day, month, quarter and year to continue on the right path.  And of course events will inevitably push you off that path, sometimes in spectacular fashion.  There may be a lawsuit that distracts or drags you down, a new competitor that makes you question the initial value prop, a bad hire requiring remedial action, a product failure, or losing a major client.  These events are never actually as devastating as they seem in the moment and the real key is to find your way back to center and to advance forward toward the main goal no matter how hard or how long you may have been pushed sideways. 

For anyone who has taken jiu-jitsu seriously for a number of years, they will tell you it is a perishable set of skills, things get in the way of training, and the longer you’ve departed from a consistent regimen the more difficult it is to return.  Life gets in the way.  People get married, have children, move to a different city, change their financial priorities, or perhaps the biggest cause of jiu-jitsu washouts: they get injured.  Injuries can be devastating.  You’re unable to train, you’re usually unable to replace the physicality with anything else, you know your peers are advancing while you’re stalled (or in reverse!), and you fall into a different rhythm that does not involve jiu-jitsu.

Just as in business, the important thing is again, to always find your way back to the path leading to the main goal.  In my experience if I never lose my grip on the long term vision then I can eventually force my way back onto that path but it’s not easy.  I have to understand that longer term vision very intimately, be obsessed with it, be hyper aware of why I’m in pursuit of it, and trust I won’t regret staying the course. 

Thankfully the worst injury I’ve had in my jiu-jitsu career was a meniscus tear which resulted in a 6-9 month recovery period.  I remember being so afraid of being off the path for too long that I would often go to my normal classes anyway just to sit and watch.  I’d see what was being taught, would have a chance to stay connected to my friends, and they would never fail to  ask “how much longer?”  It was my way of getting constant reminders of the long game, and getting so far away from the path that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back.

I’ve noticed about people who never stray too far from their passion is they often have people around them who feel just as strongly as they do about the journey, and understand the same about each other.  This built-in support mechanism pulls a ‘wanderer’ back into what they love and what they are trying to achieve, just in case they have a difficult time doing so on their own.  When people share a passion and recognize it in each other, they tend to play a meaningful role in keeping each other on the path.  A jiu-jitsu friend once said, “friends don’t let friends stop training.”  And I am quite grateful for having been the beneficiary of that mindset many times both personally and in business.

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