What’s the worst that can happen?
How often do you ask this question? I mean really ask it and take the time to consider the answer?
Because it’s a question worth asking. Tim Ferris calls it practical pessimism. If what I’m trying to do fails whats the worst case scenario.
Ferris’ point as an entrepreneur is this – if you take some time to really consider worst case scenario – you often find it’s not that bad (I sleep on a mates couch for a month) – so go ahead and take a chance.
Here’s how that looks in Jiu Jitsu. I’m on mount. I’m considering going for the armbar. Then the thought occurs to me. What if I fail. I end up in side control. How bad is that? Well it depends.
If you are very confident in your side control escapes, it won’t feel like such a bad consequence. As a result you’ll go for the armbar more often and guess what. Get great at armbars.
So this is the paradox. Being awesome at escaping makes you a dangerous attacker. Because you will be prepared to take a risk.
For another example from the world of MMA have a look at the first fight between Gonzaga and Crocop (Mirko Filopovic). Everyone was excited to see what happened when such a world class striker fought a noted grappler. The result? The “grappler” knocked the striker out with a kick to the head! How did this happen?
Simply put, Gonzaga was more prepared to take the risk.
Crocop was known for his phenomenal kicking (“right leg hospital, left leg morgue”), but was very cautious to throw those kicks against Gonzaga.
Because if he lost his balance and got taken down, he was in Gonzaga’s world. Gonzaga on the other hand had nothing to lose. Throw a kick, why not? The worst that happens is you get taken down and it becomes a ground fight – which is in his case great news! So he threw a kick against a tentative opponent who was watching for the takedown, and boom.
Moral of the story – be clear what the worst case scenario is, and if you can turn that into your strength then you’ll take the fear out of your decision making. Which is as important for life as it is for Jiu Jitsu.
In fact in Jiu Jitsu it’s easy. Even if you don’t have great side control escapes yet, the ultimate worse case scenario is you get caught and have to tap. Which costs nothing. I’m proud that we have a culture where you just don’t hear people “bragging” about who’s tapped who, because we realize what the tap really means. It’s a tool to de-risk the activity and promote risk taking an learning.
And at the same time what that does is to build resilience. Resilience being the quality that arises when you have an underlying sense of “whatever happens, I can handle this”.
This is a quality that is developed on the mat and can change your life off the mat.