If People Think You’re Lazy, You Might Be Onto Something
Why "lazy" people are going to build the future.
The world is changing fast.
When I was in school, I, like most kids, was taught to specialize. I was told to pick one thing, focus on it, and become really good at that one thing.
I was told to pick one thing to do, one place that I wanted to do it, and then do it with the same group of people over and over again until I reached the full scope of my potential. This is how much of the world around me works.
As a young, aspiring full-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete, I believed that there was one track for me to follow in my quest to become a high-level black belt. I thought I had to live in a gym, sleep on mats, eat ramen noodles, and make basically no money so that I could “do what I loved”.
I was taught that dreamers were starving and sellouts were miserable, and it seemed like there was no in-between. You were either the best in the world at one thing, or you were existentially lost and living a life of “quiet desperation”.
But if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that the world is a complicated place, and specialization is too simple for most of us. Specialization is a concept that was designed for a world where human potential was far more limited than it is now.
That’s why, in 2022, it pays to be a polymath, both financially and existentially.
Achieving My Biggest Goal Didn’t Change My Life
When I won the 2019 world championship in Jiu-Jitsu, my life really didn’t change that much.
I was a senior in college with an internship working for a lawn care company, and I taught a handful of Jiu-Jitsu privates on the side. Winning worlds didn’t change the fact that I was broke. It didn’t change the fact that I was insecure, anxious, and I didn’t like myself that much.
I had thought that winning worlds would create a snowball effect that would lead to me being happy and making a full-time living from Jiu-Jitsu, but the caveat was that I won the world championship at purple belt. A purple belt world title doesn’t carry the same prestige as a black belt world title.
After I achieved this huge personal milestone, I got to do some podcast interviews and I got a cool shiny medal, but my life didn’t change much at all. I still had the same fears, the same anxiety, and the same insecurities.
I needed to figure out another way to become the person that I knew that I could be. That’s why I started reading, writing, and desperately trying to learn new skills.
I Approach Writing the Same Way I Approach Jiu-Jitsu
On most days, 90% of my waking hours are comprised of writing and fighting.
The other 10% is spent commuting either to the gym to fight or home to write. I’m in the “grind” phase of chasing my dreams. That’s why every skill that I learn is so valuable.
But learning multiple skills is not just about making money — although it can be a great way to become wealthy — it’s also about developing mental clarity.
However, the mental benefits of developing multiple skills have already completely changed my life. Developing multiple skills has made me a more complete individual and thus, happier.
See, in my sport, most of the aspiring professionals are struggling much more than I am to make a living. They don’t make money. They work odd jobs. They live paycheck to paycheck and pray desperately that they’ll “win something” that will change their lives and give them the ability to make a living “doing what they love”.
As far as mental health and happiness are concerned, this is a dangerous way to make a living.
There’s a lot of Peter Pans in my sport, but that’s for another day.
Today, I’m going to tell you about how I grew up.
“Hustling” Is for Kids. Adults Work
In a study of high-level athletes, there was substantial evidence that “deliberate practice” (training) only makes up for 18% of the performance gap amongst elite athletes and the general population.
Basically, if you train a lot, you’ll be nearly 20% better than people who don’t train as much as you. This is significant, but there’s more.
Amongst high-level athletes, deliberate practice only makes up for about 1% of performance variance.
This is why the hardest workers don’t always win. This is why “grit” isn’t enough to make you the best in the world. Hard work is awesome, but there are countless other factors that determine which athlete is in first place on the podium and which athletes are coming home empty-handed.
I’m not saying hard work doesn't matter, but I am saying that in an environment where everyone is working really hard, more hard work isn’t going to separate you from everyone else.
That’s why “hustling” is so empty. That’s why the best way to optimize your experience is to become a complete individual.
Kids sit around and talk about “the hustle”. Adults analyze their abilities, focus on their goals, identify their limits, and figure out a way to make it work. The “pursuit of happiness” usually starts when you start working less hard in pursuit of your goals.
Wealth Is Not Just in Your Pocket
Sometimes, wealth is just having choices.
Having multiple skills and making yourself available to new experiences is going to make you rich in a world where specialization becomes useless.
This idea goes against everything you’ve ever been taught.
You were told to become the best. You were told to compete. You were told to grind.
I’m telling you to stop grinding away to “be somebody” and start trying to be yourself.
Embrace the power that your own personal choices can have on your life. Autonomous living through the pursuit of multiple skills will not only help you make more money, but it will also help you become happier and more excited to live in the present moment.
Choices are fun. Give yourself choices — just not too many.
I’m happy not just because I have choices, but because I choose my choices.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
My overarching goal is to become one of the best Jiu-Jitsu black belts in the world. I’ve spent the last 7 years obsessively studying the habits, techniques, and training methods of athletes who have done what I aspire to do.
The problem is, in the obsessive pursuit of this dream, I’ve nearly destroyed myself countless times. Burnout, injury, frustration, and depression are all downsides of the pursuit of greatness.
Balance is the key to fighting these downsides. The bigger your goals are, the more important it is to find balance in your life. If you want to be great at something, you need to do other things that are completely unrelated to your ambition.
Failure doesn’t kill dreams, toxic obsession does. Success doesn’t help you achieve dreams, success is temporary. Sustainability is what can really change your life.
That’s what you should shoot for.
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How to Make Money as a Jiu-Jitsu Athlete (Premium)
Something new I’m working on…
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I’m also incredibly excited to release my next ebook on stage fright and performance anxiety in just a few weeks. More coming on that soon.