Humans are emotional creatures, there's no doubt about that.
We would like to think that we are in control of our actions and our thoughts, but many of us are unaware of how much our emotions steer us towards decisions that soothe our ego and beliefs.
Emotions colour both our inner world and the world around us - making us see what we want to see, telling us where to look, what to think about, and what to do next.
Precisely what makes us so promising as creatives, thinkers and doers, what drives us to the top of those fields, could also be our worst enemy and sabotage our success.
This darker side of the psyche is our ego.
Ego is the voice that tells us we’re better than we really are. It’s the unhealthy belief in our importance, the need to be better than, more than, to be recognised for, and what we’re entitled to.
This delusional belief creates a disconnect from reality, making us not confident but arrogant, not self-aware but self-absorbed. It’s the difference between potent and poisonous.
The Ego In Training
In the discipline of Jiu Jitsu, your ego will be challenged daily and unless you’re prepared to keep an open mind and be humble, you will be humbled very quickly. In saying that, there’s no better place to expose your ego than on the mats as it’s done so in a safe and controlled environment.
As Sensei Saulo Ribeiro says “You can’t hide from Jiu-Jitsu, it will show your true colours.”
Jiu Jitsu teaches us to become a student again - not only on the mats but for life. This ‘student for life’ mentality teaches us to recognise that there’s always something that we can learn from everyone; regardless of their age, gender, size, background, profession, and especially belt colour.
We can’t keep learning if we think we already know everything.
So, we let go of our inflated sense of self and take on the role of a beginner. This takes humility. Accepting that you know nothing (not because you’re Jon Snow) but because you desire to be better. Better through making mistakes, learning from your training partners, and keeping an open mind.
The Ego In Competition
Let’s face it, the nature of Jiu Jitsu as a martial art will attract competitive personalities and for sure there is a level of ‘ego’ that comes with that. Putting aside all the other values of competing, the goal is to win after all.
This is when we need to understand how to use ego as a tool to benefit us.
It’s the side of us that desires to win so we’re driven to train hard, be disciplined and do what it takes to achieve that end goal.
But what happens when we finally achieve that goal?
What happens when we win all our matches in great fashion and prove to be the best on that day?
Do you let this accomplishment define you and your worth?
Do you let it tell you to take it easy because you deserve it?
Do you let it tell you that you don’t need to train as hard, or be as disciplined anymore?
These are questions only you can answer for yourself. But by now you should see how arrogance and self-absorption only inhibits growth.