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I Made $5000 in 20 Minutes
It only took a decade.
If you know me in real life or follow me on social media, maybe you were expecting a long sappy essay about getting my black belt this week, and I promise, that’s coming. Today, however, all I have is a little recap from last weekend for you. Thanks for reading!
Last weekend, I competed in a martial arts tournament in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I had 3 matches. The first match lasted 8 minutes. The second match went for about 2 minutes, and the 3rd and final match went for 10 minutes. I was on the mat fighting for a little more than 20 minutes.
I won all 3 matches, and I was awarded a $5000 prize for my efforts.
$5000 in 20 minutes of work.
An easy day at the office, right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
There wasn’t much about this weekend that was easy, but, it was very quick. I endured quite a bit of pain, for a moderate amount of time, and I was awarded money — only because I was successful.
I did make $5000 in 20 minutes, but in reality, it took me about 12 years to develop the skills to even have a chance at winning this tournament on Saturday. I made $5000 in 20 minutes, but in the long run, when it comes to my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu “career” (a word I didn’t feel comfortable even using until about 6 months ago), I’ve lost a lot of money over the last 7 years.
That’s why I wanted to write this article about long-term goals and short-term payoffs.
It takes a ridiculous amount of time to do something at a high level.
I am not the most talented athlete.
I don’t have magic genetics that made me a high-level athlete from a young age. When I played baseball growing up, it took me 2 years to develop enough hand-eye coordination just to hit the fucking ball. I spent the first 2 years of my baseball career celebrating foul balls and “foul tips” because they were “contact”. Contact was my indication of progress.
I tried out for my school’s basketball team in middle school when I realized that the baseball thing wasn’t really working out, and I didn’t get past the first cut in basketball. Unfortunately, being 4'11 and chubby doesn’t exactly help you get the coach’s attention at basketball tryouts. After that was when I started wrestling, and I didn’t exactly have any success on the wrestling mat at first either.
In 8th grade (my second year of wrestling — you know, when I was supposed to be better than my first year), I finished with 4 wins and 28 losses (more than double the amount of losses of my first year). Most of the losses were from pins.
I spent most of my first 2 years involved in combat sports getting thrown around the ring, getting pinned, and then crying in the bleachers while munching on the post-competition Snickers bar that my mom or dad bought me.
The point is, I wasn’t a talented wrestler, either.
By my senior year of high school, I was winning more matches than I was losing, but I wasn’t winning tournaments. I never qualified for the state tournament. I wasn’t good, and I got better, but I never became great.
Once wrestling was done, I started Jiu-Jitsu. This was the first time I was able to excel at something, but my success has never been linear.
It takes a ridiculously strong mind to do something at a high level.
When I started Jiu-Jitsu, I didn’t have any success either.
I came in with a wrestling background, and that meant that I was supposed to have instant success in Jiu-Jitsu, but I didn’t. Again, I was winning more than I was losing, but I wasn’t great at Jiu-Jitsu and I didn’t have great results in Jiu-Jitsu. I was solid, but solid does not mean great.
My goal wasn’t to be “solid”. My goal was to be world-class.
Finally, at around 19, I started to get my “man-body”. That helped.
But muscles alone weren’t enough to help me achieve my goals. I also had to develop world-class technique, precise timing, and a mind that could do all these things under intense pressure.
What shifted over the course of that ridiculously long amount of time that I spent competing in martial arts was that I developed the mind of a successful martial arts competitor. I did this by studying philosophy, writing about my anxiety, practicing good habits, and yes, training a metric fuck-ton of Jiu-Jitsu on top of that.
Now that I’m doing fairly well in Jiu-Jitsu, a lot of people seem to assume that I’m this talented guy who has some abilities that other people don’t have or that I just have ridiculously good luck.
Those people weren’t here 11 years ago when I looked like a “roly-poly” on the mat — my dad’s words.
I’ve done what I do with an intense amount of focus for a very long time. That’s pretty much it.
That’s more important than talent. That’s more important than hard work. That’s more important than anything if you ask me.
It takes a village to do something at a high level.
Okay, this article has been all about me so far. It’s time to shift the focus.
For a long time, I was really concerned with being “self-made”. I wanted everyone to know that I had worked my ass off for everything that I achieve. I wanted everyone to know that I did it all myself.
The problem is, that wouldn’t be the truth. I didn’t do this all on my own. I had a lot of help.
In the picture above, the guy on my left (Jack) has been traveling with me and competing with me for nearly the last 4 years, and the guy on my right (my coach, Jeff) has been teaching me most of the Jiu-Jitsu I know since I was 17-years-old.
Those are just 2 of the people that make up this village of friends and teammates that I have that help me do the things that I do at a high level.
I’m just a vessel or something.
Apart from just my training partners at the gym, there are also the guys who I’ve met through training out of town who have pushed me to reach for goals that I previously couldn’t have fathomed, and there are also the countless strangers who have said nice (and not-so-nice) things to me on the internet for the last year and a half that I’ve been sharing my life through writing.
Both the good and bad comments motivate me in different ways.
If you clicked on this email because you wanted to learn about how to make $5000 in 20 minutes, I apologize immediately.
None of the things that I do well come super easy to me. I could never win any grappling tournaments without training and working my butt off. I could never write good writing without editing it an obnoxious amount of times. I could never make good decisions without making stupid ones first.
Maybe you’re the same way as me. Maybe you think my “advice” is useless, and maybe you’re going to go into your life and do the opposite of what I say.
If that’s you, I respect it. I’ve been that guy.
However, those readers are not the reason I write. I write for the people who can and are willing to learn for me.
First and foremost, the person who can learn the most from the dumb shit I’ve done is myself.
Here’s to not making the same mistakes over and over again.