Confidence Is The Key

Who are the most confident or arrogant people in the world today? I’m talking truly confident in their skills and not because they are insecure. Let me give you a moment to think about it. Athletes are one of the most confident or arrogant people in the world today because they have the physical capabilities to achieve greatness in their respective sports. More importantly, they also have the confidence in themselves to reach their upper limits and surpass them. If you’re an athletic specimen, but lack confidence, you’re going to be like a caged elephant that is so broken down that it only does what it’s supposed to do out of fear–forever creatively stifled.

Growing up, Michael Jordan wasn’t the most confident person in the room, but he was able to achieve confidence in his skills by practicing his shots daily. In fact, he was cut multiple times during his high school basketball career, but never gave up and practiced daily to eventually become a varsity player again. As you know, he later became one of the most successful NBA players in the world today.

In my own life, I was the same. I was gifted physically with fast twitch muscles and unrelenting mental grit, but did not have the confidence in myself to attain excellence in my skills until I was much older. I was like the caged elephant who had been beaten down so many times that he only took orders and never tested things creatively. Further, I was the guy who had the skills but was socially anxious that when it came to game time, I always choked. There were always people who constantly told me “this is the only correct and fundamental way to punch in boxing, or, “you should only stick to one side (orthodox or unorthodox) because that is the only way to do it”. I always wanted to have creative expression, and saw opportunities in being a switch-stance fighter, but was so stifled and mentally broken down that I never exercised self will. I was unrelenting with grit however because I knew that I had this problem early on and it took me about a decade to undo all these hurdles.

If you are gifted in anything but always choke during game time or you know you have the potential, but it’s not being met because of some sort of mental block or hurdle, I am going to give you a few things that worked for me. More importantly I’m going to give you the Michael Jordan blueprint to overcoming limiters. But guess what, it takes a lot longer than most people think. It’s not an easy process undoing years of mental baggage.

Loyalty

There are always going to be coaches in your life that tell you that it is their way or the highway. But sometimes, you might feel like it is stifling with your growth. In my case, I had coaches not believing in me or my skills because I was timid and always caved into pressure, which did not lead to good performance. I used to be the type of person who took orders and was never assertive so this cycle was perpetual. However, there are some people who you meet in life that believe in your potential but also vehemently demand conformity to their ways. In my experience, sticking with one coach or style is important, but also learning new styles is equally as important to evolve your own game. There is a fine balance with finding coaches that believe in you but also are open to learning new styles. Always go with the coach that believes in you and never take the shiny object approach where you keep switching coaches because you think it’s a golden band aid. In my experience, I fired my second coach because I thought he was stifling, only to find out that I should have stuck with him and add on more coaches or training partners to get a unique perspective. My problem was communication. I internalized everything instead of hashing it out with him and being assertive with finding new approaches elsewhere instead of constantly moving from coach to coach. Being loyal and disciplined with one strategy is very important. Moving around too much means you won’t have a cohesive game plan or blueprint.

Learn To Be Assertive

Like I told you, I was timid and shy and had problems with confronting people. That’s why I always internalized everything and made irrational decisions like firing a loyal coach. I can’t help you with this one. Communication is an ongoing process. Being able to tell people how you feel, in a way that doesn’t suck their time dry, is important. You have to know why you’re being timid and develop your own method for developing assertiveness so that you won’t burn bridges.

Seek Out World Class Training

If you believe your growth has been stifled due to your environment, move to where the best people are and your training environment will increase. This is what I did because I felt like I wasn’t getting the technical building blocks where I was at and moved to one of the biggest cities in the world to get world class martial arts training. I found myself progressing faster than I was at my previous place while training less because I had the technical instructions and training partners.

Stick To One Script First

Backpacking on to loyalty, your stubborn coaches do have a point. You want to master one style first before adding on new looks to your game. Master the basics and then keep building on them slowly. Slow it down because you might be doing more harm than good by being a jack of all trades instead of a specialist. Learn how to tie it all together and develop your offense and not your defense. Starting out in Jiu Jitsu, a lot of people like myself have very good defense because they were accustomed to being ragdolled by bigger, stronger opponents. Having high level defense is good, but it makes you reactive as opposed to offensive. One of my grappling mentors used to tell me he started out being defensive, but later added on offense by breaking down each offensive attack in steps. He would focus on one offensive attack, for example the guillotine choke, for 1 week to 1 month. After that he would try and intentionally focus on other weak areas that had the potential to be his strengths. He developed defense as a framework to be more offensive later on because he knew what to expect. When you’re a defensive fighter, you are more reactive. When you’re an offensive fighter, you intentionally strike first and potentially can have the advantage of being a first-mover. Later on, you can alternate between defense and offense. You want your ratio of offense to defense to be weighted towards offense but sometimes there are purely defensive fighters who seek to counter-fight. That is a good idea if you believe in your reactions and if the other guy’s offense is not as good as your defense. Starting out, focus on one game and add on to it in stages. Slow it down.

Commit To Your Game

If you’re wishy washy all the time, you won’t be making any progress if you quit one system too quickly and move on to the next shiny object. You’re getting sold on a shiny object that promises you results, but instead is vix-panacea. However, when you are new to the game, you will definitely have a learning curve. You will test out different ideas and sometimes might be frustrated when they all don’t work. However, if you stick to one framework to a T, I guarantee you will find results in that framework. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the guillotine choke in its purest most basic form still works in choking people out. Obviously now there are many variations of the guillotine choke, but the application of the choke in its most based (Gracie, 90s-era) form still is sufficient in restricting blood flow to your opponents’ neck.

On a practical level, committing to learning that one framework is the key because if you don’t commit to learning it, you will never achieve mastery over it. If you know every framework or style but don’t have it all ingrained, you are going to have a longer learning curve than if you were to master one style and abridge or amend them later. This has happened to me with my Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts career.

FIN

To recap, confidence is not just practicing your skills to achieve self-confidence, it is also mastering yourself. You are going to make mistakes, and you are going to look stupid when you endeavor in anything. You might take a really long road to get there like Michael Jordan. Getting to world champion takes a lifetime of practice and late nights before ever making a dent in the stratosphere of attention. You might believe that you have limitless potential, but are caged in your own thoughts like a beaten elephant tied to a wooden chair. You might be like me and alienate everyone around you, especially loyal coaches and training partners, to move to a big city where the shiny world class training gym is. It could end up working out eventually, but it might also lead you to figure out that mastering the basics and adding on the filigree was all it took to get there. In any case, take it step by step and slow it down. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

P.S. Maybe this article will help you achieve some basic structure in your own life. Focus on the very basics. Focus on the specific goals and then keep adding it when you achieve those small goals.

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