Want To Be a Great Leader? Stop Acting Like a White Belt

As I was “rolling” with my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Dan Dixon of Impact Fitness and Martial Arts, it was a reminder of the power and necessity of humility. Dan is decorated black belt and fantastic instructor. As he effortlessly rolled me onto my back from my previously dominant position, I held on for dear life. His instruction was simple:

“If you lose your position, let it go and start looking for the next best position based on where you are now. White belts hang on for dear life when they lose their position. Don’t act like a white belt.”

This is not a call, or an excuse, to give up and quit early. This is an acknowledgement that sometimes things don’t go our way and we need to move on from THAT point. As leaders, sometimes we make decisions that don’t work out. If we ruminate and beat ourselves up for a decision that didn’t work out, we will never move forward in a meaningful way.

Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful metaphor for leadership and life. Have a plan but have contingencies. Don’t get hung up over something that didn’t work out quite right. Execute your contingency plan and move on. Review what went wrong and how you will improve next time after the fact.

In Jiu-Jitsu, as in leadership and life, the absence of ego and an abundance of humility are a prerequisite for success. So, don’t act like a white belt and hold on for dear life. Understand where you are NOW and take action from there.

Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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