Levels of Competition

People operating at the highest levels aren’t just “better;” they structure their lives in a completely different way.

When we talk about “levels” of performance, we’re talking about how the very best operate at totally different stratospheres of ability. It’s not just that they train harder. People at the highest levels of performance simply live their lives differently from the rest of us.

Let’s use Steve as an example. Steve is a hobbyist black belt who doesn’t compete. If he trains a bit harder, it’s not going to close the gap between Steve and good competitors. He’d have to totally change many aspects of his life to hang in competitions. And if he really wants to be successful, he might have to quit his job and totally restructure his life to have a shot at achieving his Jiu-Jitsu goals. He’s not willing to do those things, but other people are. Those are the people who operate at a higher level, because they live their life differently than he does.

Going beyond the average competitor, those at the highest levels don’t just train hard; they have a training camp that’s catered to them. Someone who’s successful at local competitions might train hard, but ultimately they’re just another student in the gym who is especially dedicated. An elite athlete, on the other hand, may have an entire team to support them. They’re not there to be a part of the gym; the gym is there to support them. The way these guys plan their lives is totally different from the rest of us.

This isn’t something specific to Jiu-Jitsu. If you’ve ever tried to get promoted from an individual contributor role to management, or from management to the boardroom, you know that it’s not just about working harder or getting more experience. You need to dramatically change the way you operate. The new job isn’t just “more of the old one,” it’s fundamentally different.

The point is: at a certain stage, if you want to get to the next level, it’s not just about training more. You may need to dramatically change everything about your life, which can make for very uncomfortable personal decisions. As the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.

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