Sunday, December 20, 2015

What Judo Taught Me about Business: Part 586

I probably have an odd view of judo for a world champion, which is that I don't think judo as an actual sport is all that important.

Between men and women, there are 14 Olympic weight divisions in the U.S. National Championships, and I couldn't name one person who placed in any one of them last year.

So, why do I still teach judo after 45 years ? Because there is a lot you can learn from it. I don't think these lessons are unique to judo. You can probably learn them from band or jiu jitsu or football, too, but judo is what I happen to do.

One of the first things I had to learn when I switched from competing to coaching is:

Everyone is not you.

This is an especially important lesson to learn if you were extremely successful in your endeavor. The average person is - well, average. The typical kid, like my lovely youngest daughter in the top photo, just wants to hang out with their friends and have some fun.

It's easy to fall into the trap, especially with young people who remind you of yourself, say, who appear to have some athletic talent, to be convinced that they SHOULD be like you. If they could only see the possibilities, how great they could be ...

In fact, though, they are not you.  Here is my lovely youngest daughter seven years later.

She is captain of her high school soccer team and will be playing college soccer in the fall. She went from a judo player winning the state junior championships to the national junior championships to being a soccer player.

Everyone is not you ... and that is perfectly fine.

Now that I run a company that makes games, I am continually running into people who insist that our games are made WRONG because the game is not what they would have liked to have played when they were in school. Those people have a very good point and we try to address it, because there are some kids just like they were and if we are not meeting the needs of those students, we need to work on that.

However, they are also missing a second point.

There are actually a lot of people who play games who are not like them. Puzzle games are very popular (think Bejeweled, Candy Crush) and so are first-person shooter games (think Call of Duty). Is one right and the other wrong?  That question doesn't even make sense, does it?

So, one of many, many things I learned from judo is that everyone is not you and even if you are super successful at what you do, if you want to be even half as successful at providing a service to people, be it video games or judo coaching, you have to learn to accommodate those differences.

See what we make - games that make you smarter. Download for Mac or Windows. Under ten bucks!

Buy a game this month and get Forgotten Trail for free.


Anonymous said...

Good post! Well said.

Ventus said...

In recent years ive come to appreciate and recognize the importance of balance more and more.
It permeates every facet of life, existence or nature in many different ways. If nothing else, you can notice it the best when it isnt there and things go into extremes. Which tend to be almost always destructive and negative one way or the other.
It seems to me that we humans live the best when we can achieve it, or at least when we are in situations where it is attainable.

I think it can be said that Judo is a sort of art of balance. Learning how to get the opponent off balance while maintaining your own is a base of it. I found many subjects and themes on this blog to have a lot to do with balance, or speak about different balances we should try to achieve in life. And i quite like the name of the blog. Judo of Life is in many ways a very true, telling name.

Trying to achieve balance in anything is a struggle and it needs skills and finesse and years (lifetimes) of learning and a lot of hard work. Just like Judo or any other martial art.
Balance between working too much or too little, between aggression and peace, violence and kindness, balance between our minds and emotions, between ego and selflessness, balance between negativity and too much positivity. To name a few bigger ones.
These are all very hard to achieve and harder to maintain, but i really wish more people would be actively aware of this and see how important is to be aware of this and to try.

Its really not about achieving a balance and then keeping it. Thats practically impossible because we all live in constantly changing circumstances, ever shifting everyday reality made of hundreds of always changing specific details.

The correct approach is to become aware how important it is to be aware of this truth and then to try to balance these different things. Day in, day out.
To adjust as new situations come or things change, in order to always strive to be aware of the need for balance. To be aware of the extremely bad consequences of loss of balance and benefits of the balance between these important crucial features of life.

Martial arts and particularly Judo are not just ways to teach how to fight. Every martial arts practitioner will tll you so.

They are more then anything ways in which we humans try to balance out ourselves.
Agression and violence are a part of our everyday reality, part of nature and our biology. Denying that only creates other inbalances, other extremes.
martial arts are of course our attempt to come to terms with these realities and to learn to use them, to harness them and tame them, not just from a fight to a fight but in all of life. because lessons and hardships you go through in order to learn a martial art dont just exist in a vacuum. they propagate to everything you do.

In order to win a fight you not only need to calm your mind, learn to handle strong emotions and instincts but you also learn to be realistic about your abilities and skills and that of your opponent. Even learn to respect him or her.
All of that lowers the control of ego over us and so makes us better people on the whole.

There is a lot of subtlety and finesse in many martial arts, especially Judo. Its obviously not about just swinging and punching someone.
And all that translates into everything you do.

Everyday life, business, raising kids while balancing a hundred other things, just to name a few.

Or competing in an elite combat sports like UFC while trying to get the most out of media who only serves to peddle hype it creates and distort everything to create more of it for cheapest most superficial purposes - while trying to have some kind of good personal life.

It is extremely difficult, especially if you have to deal with such extremes as the sport and media are.
On one side you have to become extreme yourself in many ways in order to be successful, on the other being in extremes tends to create various negative consequences.
Some of them can be avoided most of the time, but you cannot avoid all of them all of the time.

Ventus said...

Trying to be happy or to have fun and feel great is one of the extremes that tricks a lot of us very easily. It cant really be achieved and everyone would admit to it if asked directly but still people try. Current general culture is one of almost psychotic need to have fun 24/7, 365 days a year.
It creates all kinds of bad consequences.
It makes people extremely selfish, careless, even cruel.
It makes people turn their heads from others in need of help, makes people push things under the rug, live in denial... all kinds of small and bigger negative things.

On the other hand we are all too sensitive to negativity.
Which is the reason why you cannot find a movie where story is not based around someone being killed, or why you cannot open any news page (or newspapers for those who still remember what that is) without being bombarded with tragedies and atrocities.

Noticing any kind of negativity is a very natural trait we humans have. Every animal, every living being has it, but we excel in it precisely because we are so much more advanced and complex then other life.
It is useful to be able to notice any problem, any negative thing - as soon as possible. Preferably before.
This ability has been selected by evolution and drilled into our very genes and biology ever since our ancestors started walking, and even before from earliest forms of life to more complex ones, to mammals, to us.

Some people get addicted to the strong emotional reactions that negativity creates. Their ego starts to feed on it until a Pavlovian reflex is established.
And since it is ego it makes them feel as if they are awesome and cool because of it.
This is why we have the notion of villains who are cool or seen as badasses in movies and such. Although in reality they are the opposite of that.
Media sells this, because people react quickly to negativity.

If you add anonymity to this poisonous carcinogenic soup you get the current state of affairs on the internet.
That is why so much of "social media" is a cesspool of lowest drags of humanity.

And then in turn most of us notice that minority and their repetitive behavior the most, so easily and quickly.
It all sticks into our minds the strongest, so it seems as if everything is horrible and bad.

But it isn't.

Not really.

We should all try to train ourselves to become less susceptible to negativity in such ways.
Not all of it, but we should all strive to see it in a more balanced way. To be aware of it.

It takes some hard work, some self discipline and some training. But it can be done.