Greatness – where does it come from?
Amazing achievements always fascinate us, and the question of “how” is one that is nearly impossible to answer with much certainty because of the number of factors in play in any one person’s path eminence in any field.
In the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Robson Moura certainly falls under the category of “great.” Being crowned with the title of “World Champion” an impressive seven times, Robson is also a 2-time Brazilian national champion, in addition to ADCC medalist and open weight champion – to name a few other accomplishments.
Always excited about instruction, Robson currently has 21 martial arts academies in his association, in addition to a number of international academies – all in addition to his own successful studio in Florida. After taking a private lesson with Robson in Massachusetts (at the academy of one of his association members), I set up a time to interview him off the mat in addition to the ideas I’d gleaned from chatting and rolling.
The Factors of Success
“Robinho” may not have been born into an ideal neighborhood, and he may not have been given the widest array of worldly opportunity as a boy – but his upbringing was filled with a great many positive factors which undoubtedly contributed to his amazing feats in the sport.
First, Robson had a successful academy to train with. Learning most of his Jiu Jitsu at Nova Uniao meant that he was surrounded by successful competitors, talented instructors, dedicated athletes, and people with a sense of ambition. Mr. Moura himself told me “its hard for a team to create their first black belt world champion.” This is true, but with team experience and momentum he had the support he needed.
Second, he also had support from friends and family (his father trained to the level of purple belt himself). With no responsibilities but to train hard, he had the backing of the people he cared about and the team he was dedicated to. In some sense, its a situation we could all be jealous of – but in some ways it isn’t. Robson’s life may have been idea for training, but the danger and desperation he saw in his community every single day… something that he knew he’d have to change.
“Necessity” as the Ultimate Motivator
Robson expressed to me that one of the strongest driving motivators behind his efforts in BJJ was the sincere aspiration to leave poverty, to leave violence, and to find opportunity the only way he knew how – with Jiu Jitsu.
Without the money for an expensive education, and without much relevance job knowledge, he viewed Jiu Jitsu as his “ticket” to the future he knew he wanted above all else. It is this motivating force that we’ll focus on here.
When we believe that our livelihoods hinge on a goal, that goal tends to go from being a “want” to a “must.” It goes from being a “would be nice” to a “has to be so.” Though not all BJJ champions had the same influence behind them, for Robson this force was real and powerful.
The Power of Necessity
Think about it, were do we see the most complex decision-making processes and systems of human action on a grand scale? Most likely the answer here is “business” or “government” – and why is this? Because these entities handle the livelihoods of so many people, they have to be carefully calibrated through and through, with divisions, systems, and responsibilities built into them.
Imagine if a company like Kellogg just decided not to be deliberately organized? Thousands and thousands of people would be without jobs, and global economies would shift in a negative way. The same could be said to an even more intense degree with community / national governments. These entities are constructed with tremendous forethought in order to support great numbers of people.
We often wonder why it is that immigrants who arrive with nothing come to be generally more successful than people born of that particular country. It is said that the recognition of supreme opportunity and a sense of urgency and necessity are some of the absolutely best driving forces for industriousness – and that the immigrant (coming from much less opportunity) – sees and takes advantage of this as he sees it is crucial to his survival.
At the same time, when one’s livelihood is on the line, goals don’t become “wants,” they become “musts.” Robson made it clear that using Jiu Jitsu as a vehicle for freedom and opportunity was very much a “must,” and his persistence shows with his accomplishments.
Its always interesting to explore the minds and the methods of greats – and Robson is no exception. Hopefully learning about what drove him and aided in his success, we can reflect and invigorate our own efforts on and off the mat. Most glaringly – what is a “must” for us? How can he draw a firm line, a deliberate goal, and use the entirety of our efforts in one directions to produce amazing results.
We may not all live in dangerous villages with Jiu Jitsu glory as our only out, but we all have something that means a lot to us, that we see as undeniably important, that we might also leverage the power of necessity for ourselves.
For me this has to do with intellectual contribution, for others it might have to do with putting a child through college or making a difference to a cause or charity close to their heart (or, like Robson, it might be winning a Jiu Jitsu world championship). It is my hope that Robson’s story of full, driving effort will encourage the same in us – for whatever matters most in our lives.
I hope to take another private with Robson in a few months and again have the opportunity to pick his brain… and get armbarred a bunch of times as well.
You can be sure I’ll write about it.
Train and live deliberately,