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You Probably Can't Learn Much From Self-Help Gurus or the Navy SEALs
Plus, my goals for 2022.
When I was 19 years old, pretty severely depressed, and longing for meaning in my life, I stumbled upon podcast interviews with people like Jocko Willink, David Goggins, and Jordan Peterson.
At the time, these interviews inspired the heck out of me. I drank the Kool-Aid and then went back for seconds.
I bought Jocko and Goggin’s and Jordan Peterson’s books. I devoured them both. All of these men have inspiring stories. The books themselves are great.
There’s just one problem.
For a 19-year-old kid who was battling mental illness, it took a lot more than just a book from a war hero or a self-help guru for me to pull myself together.
Jocko and David Goggins are, in my opinion, some of the most motivated people in the world. The problem is, some people might be too motivated to teach you how to become motivated yourself.
You don’t need a masterclass to learn.
A few weeks ago, I taught a Jiu-Jitsu lesson for a guy in his 40s who had never trained martial arts before.
It was a few days after I had gotten back from competing in the world championships. I lost in the quarterfinals this year.
The guy who I met for the lesson was nice, and while the lesson was helpful for him, I realized that it wasn’t a great use of my time. It wasn’t the best use of his time and his money either.
I realized that pretty much anyone who has been doing Jiu-Jitsu for more than a few months could teach this man what he wanted to learn. A beginner could teach this other beginner the basics.
Plus, beginners know what it’s like to be a beginner more than anyone else.
Jocko “just does it”.
Whenever Jocko Willink talks about how he gets up so early in the morning, he says that his alarm clock goes off, and when it does he just gets out of bed and gets moving.
He just does it.
He doesn’t think about how comfy his pillow is. He doesn't think about how he’s got such a long day ahead of him and how he’s already tired from the long day before.
His secret is that he doesn’t think at all.
He’s an expert on being disciplined, but he’s so good at it that he doesn’t have to think about it. He is the authority on discipline. He’s not a beginner.
David Goggins is the same way.
David Goggins's book made me cry like 8 times.
I think everyone who’s got a dream that they feel is out of reach should read it. The story is so powerful, so inspiring, and so impactful that it just might convince you to get your life in gear.
The only problem is, I can’t relate to it at all.
I don’t know what Navy SEAL training is like and I never want to. I don’t know what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 3 months and I never want to. I don’t know what it’s like to do a bajillion pull-ups in 24 hours and I never want to.
It’s inspiring to hear, but the advice that I get from Goggins and Jocko isn’t actionable for me. It’s philosophical.
To actually learn how to grow, you need a manual. You need a guide. You need habits.
Mindset shifts will not change your life. Habits will.
One book that stunned me last year was Atomic Habits by James Clear. I was definitely late to the Atomic Habits party, but I still loved reading the book.
I loved it because not only was it inspiring to read about James Clear’s recovery from injury and how he developed his discipline, but it was painfully relatable. It was practical.
James Clear didn’t seem like a superhero to me. He seemed like a regular guy who wanted to teach me something. He seemed like a leader who someone with my discipline level could follow to get to the next level.
Inspiration is powerful, but you don’t learn just from reading inspiring stories and drowning yourself in motivation porn. If you want to learn, you have to study difficult topics and learn to grasp them.
To truly learn quickly, you need motivation, discipline, and a teacher that you can relate to.
I wouldn’t ask Eminem for a rapping lesson.
Let’s pretend today, I have decided that I’m an aspiring rapper.
I don’t know anything about rapping, but I think it’s cool.
If I wanted to learn to rap, I wouldn’t ask a legendary rapper (like Eminem or Kanye West) to teach me. I’d probably watch some free YouTube videos from a guy who just wants to teach viewers about rapping and then I’d ask some local rappers to mentor me. I’d learn from rappers who have been in the game for a little bit longer than me.
I wouldn’t seek out the best rappers right away and ask them to mentor me. That’s conceited, naive, and misses the point of mentorship.
The same is true in business. The same is true in martial arts. The same is true in life.
When you’re a beginner, the best mentors are not the people who have dominated your field, the best mentors are the people who are on the same path as you but are slightly above you.
This helps you learn better, but it also helps the person on the journey with you to feel more confident in their abilities and their ability to help others. It creates a positive vibration that can impact your life, the mentor above you, and perhaps even the mentors who are mentoring your mentor.
That’s a lot of meta-mentorship, but it should make sense. You need a guide, but you don’t necessarily need a guru.
When I started writing, the first book I read to help me learn my skill was Stephen King’s On Writing.
It’s a good book, but all I really learned was that writers are supposed to read a lot and they’re supposed to write a lot. I didn’t actually learn any lessons on how to become a professional writer from Stephen King.
However, when I started reading articles online from writers who were more skilled than me who I also felt like I could relate to (like other writers on this Medium, for example), I actually started to learn things about writing.
Many of the writers I read on Medium and other digital platforms are more talented than me, but I’d also feel more comfortable approaching them to ask about writing than Stephen King. I have nothing against the “King of Horror”, but I learn more from people to who I feel I can relate.
You need a good coach, but more importantly, you need a good coach for you.
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My Goals For 2022
My biggest goal as a writer is to be as transparent as possible. My biggest goal as an athlete is to perform to the best of my abilities under pressure.
My biggest goal as a person is, simply put, to do cool shit, build meaningful connections, and feel peace of mind.
It’s all easier said than done, but that’s why I have some specific goals for this year, both as a writer and grappler.
My writing goals for 2022:
250 articles on Medium
1-2 Quora answers per day
Publish 3 ebooks
Publish my first book
3 tweet threads per week
My Jiu-Jitsu goals for 2022:
Teach 5 seminars (have me out to your gym!)
Compete at least 15 times
Have more superfights - I only had 3 in 2021 :(
Compete outside the US for the first time
Win a world championship
Goals are great, but talk is cheap. These are the 10 biggest goals I’m working toward this year.
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I’m excited to release my next ebook on stage fright and performance in just a few weeks. More coming on that soon.