Renown psychologist Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success describes a way of thinking observed to be a hidden factor in success and happiness: the growth mindset. “Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but . . . it is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don’t mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure.”
In jiu-jitsu, we won’t always survive. We will get submitted. We will sometimes get injured. We will experience defeat. How we respond is up to us. It can be tempting to get angry or down on ourselves. Instead, jiu-jitsu teaches that we can turn every loss into a lesson. If someone was able to choke you, there must have been some opening you left which enabled them to do so. If you get angry or depressed, you waste an excellent opportunity to upgrade your skills.
Even injury can be a boon. From 2011 to 2016, former UFC Champion Dominick Cruz suffered what Joe Rogan called “one of the most difficult trials in terms of recovery from injury in the entire history of [MMA].” Multiple tears (groin and ACL) and surgeries kept him out of the cage for four years. In a recent interview on Rogan’s podcast, Cruz describes the experience as a gift. The seemingly endless string of injuries forced him to let go of control, which ultimately boosted his spirits enough to recover, return to fighting and regain his belt. “You need to let go of fighting to learn that you are something without it. And that was actually a gift — it became a gift because I learned so much about life.”
With the investment I received years ago came a new management team. Those looking after the books fumbled massively, neglecting to pay sales tax for years. One day, with no warning, the government took $20,000 from our account and then closed it. We had no way to pay staff, let alone ask them to continue to work while we sorted things out. Though generally optimistic, that night I could not see how we would stay open.
At first glance, this seemingly terrible situation turned out to be a massive blessing.
Almost every staff member I shared the bad news with offered to stay on for free until the ship was righted – unity! Moreover, it forced me to take over accounting and get the books in order. Even if the situation doesn’t magically turn around, you can always rely on the lesson. Thankfully I was able to save us, but imagine if I were to grow the business exponentially and then have to learn that lesson. Though it was tough at the time, thank goodness for it.
Both practically and as an attitude, you owe it to the people you serve to find — or far better, make — good in every loss.
Some of our greatest insights in business —and life — can come from our losses. What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned in the last two years? Are there losses you’ve experienced recently? As Tony Robbins teaches to ask “What’s good about this?”