It is not about winning, it is about learning 6



The mentality „Winning no matter what“ will not get you far, at least in the context I will be talking about here.

I´m going to use an example of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), which is one of the most technical combat sports in the world currently. Although you can use the same principles in your everyday life too.

So let’s get into it.

In BJJ it is very common to have the mentality “I have to submit you no matter what” and this is the mind-set newcomers have the most. Although I have seen it with old players too.

But what is wrong if you want to win no matter what? Isn’t it good to have a winning mentality? Yes it is and you need it if you want to achieve a lot in life or in the field you are active in. But you have to choose the right context where to use it. If you use it in the wrong context, you are limiting your growth and you will not reach the goals you desire.

There are 3 types of behavior patterns of the “Winning no matter what” mentality in BJJ

1. Going with 100% all the time

In sparring those guys go all out. If they start to lose position, they go completely berserk mode, they grab the Gi (BJJ uniform) from where ever they can and do everything possible do not lose the position or get submitted. And if they can get a finishing hold, where they can submit their partner, they hold on to it like their life is depending on it. Nothing else exists anymore, the submission hold is their life and they are not letting go even if they lose the position and end up in much worse place themselves where they get submitted their self at the end.

Downside of this type of mentality

By going with 100% all the time, you are not thinking clearly. If somebody would ask you, could you do that move again? You won’t be able to perform it, because you have actually no idea what you just did. With this mind-set you will take away the possibility to evaluate your game and see the mistakes or lack of technique you have in that specific spot. You will also rob the possibility to see new opportunities opening up when you are in berserk mode. Plus you are making a lot more mistakes when you go with full speed.
You may also lose your training partners because by going all out all the time you will increase the changes to injure someone. And who wants to train with someone who causes injures very often.

Calm your mind down and try to figure out what is going on. Yes you will lose more but lose the way that you know what you did wrong so you can improve yourself. This is just the training and not a competition. Your life is not on line here. Leave your Ego behind and learn that losing is not so bad after all.

2. Playing only the “A game”

Other phenomenon is that “this kind” of people always use their so called A game (techniques which they are most familiar with and which work the best for them) because winning is the only goal in sparring. If you would not stick with your best techniques you would increase the probabilities to lose a lot. And if your mentality is to win no matter what, this is unacceptable choice.
This happens even with the regular drills (exercises where your partner is giving less resistance so you could succeed with your techniques most of the time). While drilling, people still play their A game even if they know that their partner is helping them at the moment.

3. Sticking with old habits

This type of behavior is similar to previous one. Something new and revolutionary is being taught to them which can shoot their game up onto a whole new level but which takes time to implement. And what they do. Instead of working on and mastering the new skill, they will drop it and stick with their old habits because by starting to work on new things it is certain they will start to lose a lot at the beginning. They haven’t mastered the new skill and the timing can be off, the angles can be little wrong and so on. It is much easier to stick with what already works for them and keep using the old techniques because they give better results (winning rate is much higher).

This kind of mindset seems to work because you are winning most of your training partners but in the long run you are just hindering your own growth and you will not achieve the greatness you might be looking for.

I cannot stop repeating the same quote over and over again, but as it is so good I will be doing it again 🙂
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” – Charles Darwin

You have to take a step back to leap forward

Yes you will lose at the beginning when you are not sticking with your old habits and to your “A game”. And it takes time to implement new techniques to your game. But if you stick to your old habits you will hit the barrier sooner or later and then all your training partners will pass you. This is just because you were not willing to take few steps back to go many more steps forward

This is the case with most things in life, you have to fall back a little to get higher/further than you were before. An easy example for you: You want to reach to an apple hanging on the tree. Your fingers are almost touching it when you have fully reached out but you cannot get a hold of it. And you keep pushing and reaching but cannot grab it. Instead if you would let it go for a second and squat down a little to make a jump, you could easily reach the apple.

Forget your pride and accept that you are vulnerable like everyone else around you. We all are losing/falling and it is part of our life. Do not forget that the biggest growth will happen with the biggest downfalls. And remember, when you train or do any other activity, it is not about winning your opponents with any means, it is about learning so you could be better every day. Your strongest opponent is…..and always will be – you, yourself. Stop competing with others and start improving yourself. And the best part is: By winning your past self (improving your skills) every day, you will end up winning all others too without even focusing on it.
Faster you learn to implement this idea in every aspect of your life better results you see at the end.

So remember: It is not about winning it is about learning.



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6 thoughts on “It is not about winning, it is about learning

  • Sipho

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”
    Indeed there can be no better way to explain in a nut shell what your article today is about than the above quote.What becomes the challenge faced by most of us humans is our tendency to resist change. More often than not we unwittingly easily become comfortable with the status co.Thus we expose ourselves to crippling limitation, growth retardation and in some cases even extinction.

  • Andraz

    Every mistake is a new start of something if you look back to it and note your mistake, so in future you’ll be able to improve it and react better 🙂

    • Armin Post author

      Yes everything is experience. More you try, more you may fail, but at the end you will have much more knowledge and experience.

  • Kadri

    “Leave your ego behind” is always a good idea, but very often hard thing to do, because EGO is the enemy..:)
    There’s also a quote : ” Too much ego will kill your talent. ” and this is true.

    • Armin Post author

      Yes, Ego is our enemy. But at the same time Ego is our friend. We are alive because of it. We need it to survive. So there is an interesting paradox with it. We cannot live without it but at the same time it can make our life a living hell.
      Ego is bad only when we let it control our life. And to master ourselves to the point where Ego has no affect over us….it is a very long journey 🙂