Want to WIN? Learn to QUIT—BJJ and the Power of Quitting

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Dojo Diva here! Happy Monday! Today we are going to talk about QUITTING. Wait? Didn’t we just talk about beginning? YES. But starting and quitting are actually more closely related than one might imagine. To quote the one of the greatest movies ever…

Sometimes the way forward is often the way baaack. ~Labyrinth

Gracie Jiu Jitsu practitioners learn that we never lose, only learn. In the beginning, this can be tough to embrace because pride and ego get in the way. When I started BJJ, I didn’t (obviously) have any skill, but I DID have strength. I also had an ego. When we’d spar (roll) I’d muscle through using power instead of finesse. Problem was, I didn’t want to lose, so I wouldn’t tap out even when it was clear I was beaten with yet another arm bar. I’d hold on and hold on and HOLD ON and MAKE them truly get the arm bar before I would tap out.

Dumb, dumb, dumb-ditty dumb.

I still “lost.” I only delayed “losing” and added a strained elbow or shoulder on top of it.

Finally, I slowed down long enough to listen and decided to try it the “Gracie Way” instead of my own. I slowed down, focused on my breathing and gave up trying to “win” and instead focused on learning. What was I doing or not doing that was leading to me being in a bad spot? I set aside my pride and traded it for allowing myself to be new. Now, the second I feel I goofed up? I tap out, reverse engineer what went wrong and work to correct it.

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There are so many things in life we can be powering through and in our fear of “giving up” we lose the larger and more important lesson.

There’s a famous quote that I feel does a LOT of damage if we aren’t careful. “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Inspiring? YES. Accurate? NO.

I posit that winners actually are expert quitters. They quit things all the time! They quit toxic relationships that are taking time and energy away from their goals. They quit a business plan that’s going nowhere. They quit shopping novels that maybe didn’t turn out as well as planned and they move on to the next book and do better because they can use the experience from the story that went sideways.

I like to say, “Persistence looks a lot like stupid.” The act of never giving up is noble, but never giving up on the wrong things is a formula to fail. We have to learn to detect the difference between quitting a tactic and quitting a dream.

Quitting is very valuable when applied properly.

Quitting Shortens the Learning Curve

When I learned to “quit” in BJJ, I started seeing more clearly what I was doing wrong. I was able to keep going and get more practice because I could stop and ask questions. “Hey, what do I do when I find myself HERE?” And I could use the time as a learning opportunity. Also, I prevented injuries that might have made me have to take off valuable time from Jiu Jitsu.

Quitting Saves Time and Money

In business, quitting can save time, manpower and money. Too many people hang onto a mistake far too long, because they’ve already invested a lot of time and money making that mistake. What happens is we are then throwing good money after bad. Sometimes, we just have to take the hit as a learning experience and move on to more productive endeavors.

Quitting a relationship in business often means we have the tough task of firing someone. Most of us don’t like the idea of hurting anyone, so we avoid it. As a business owner? I HATED having to admit I made a mistake in hiring. But I can honestly say that every person I’ve fired should have been cut loose far earlier.

I had a writer I knew who I hired to do basic administrative stuff. He was a really nice guy I wanted to help…but he was a DISASTER in the job I’d given him. He sent messages to the wrong people, missed messages, made all kinds of errors in the paperwork. A person I’d hired to help me save time was sucking every spare minute I had cleaning up his mistakes. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and keep hoping things would improve.

They didn’t.

But, by NOT quitting on an idea (letting this person GO), I ended up causing damage that wouldn’t have been there had I been brave enough to put a stop to something that wasn’t working.

Quitting Makes Pressing On EASIER

As an author, quitting has saved me pointless revisions. When I get a feel a story is going nowhere? I stop. Go back to the basics. What is my log-line? Why is the story unraveling or fizzling?

I used to just keep going, keep writing and believe that I would find my way out. What I actually did was make the landscape far more confusing and the novel much harder to repair because now I had an additional 30,000 words I didn’t want to part with. Had I quit earlier when I first sensed the plot derailing, it would have been far simpler to get back on track.

Quitting is very useful. In BJJ, it helps us learn, grow toward mastery and have far fewer injuries. Same in working out. If it’s hurting in a WRONG WAY? Quit! Quitting saves a lot of time, effort, energy and drama if we learn to get good at it 😉 .

What are your thoughts? Do you practice BJJ? Did you have a hard time quitting (tapping out) in the beginning? Did you improve once you learned it was okay to “lose”? Have you had some tough things in life that got better once you quit what wasn’t working? Are you bad about quitting? Do you hold on to things far too long and to your own detriment? Can you think of some things you might need to quit?

I LOVE hearing from you!

19 Responses to Want to WIN? Learn to QUIT—BJJ and the Power of Quitting

  1. Another excellent post! Kristen, thank you for taking the time to explain this concept. Though I was not aware of it, until I read your post, I have been watching this concept of ‘quitting to win’ for months, as my husband improves his skills at playing the guitar.
    At first, I thought he would never learn to play well because he seemed to quit after a short time (as a veteran of piano lessons, I was used to being forced to sit there and practice until the timer buzzed.)
    But, my husband quit.
    Imagine my surprise, when I realized I recognized songs.
    How had he learned to play something complex, when he kept quitting?
    I asked.
    He explained that to play, he had to gain strength in his fingers and stretch them to play the notes, but he also needed to keep a relaxed grip. He added that when he would begin to get tired or tense, he would hold too tight and make mistakes… that if he had kept practicing, it would have been wasted time and effort. Furthermore, he would probably have given up.
    If that isn’t another example of your quit to win philosophy, I don’t know what is 😉

  2. Eeeesh…I’m guilty of persisting to the point of stupidity. I don’t know if this happens to you, but in many areas of my life, I get to the spot where I need to quit, or at least quit my current course of action, but simply don’t know what to do next. The logical thing seems to be-ask for help. Or at least stop digging. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Awesome post, Kristen.

    I’ve learned to trust my gut, and yes, it does tell me when to quit. I’ve started an exercise regimen since March (when I turned 32, lol) and the goal is to exercise at least 3 times a week. But some weeks, I just knew I had to quit on these, because I would’ve probably injured myself as my body just wasn’t “feeling” it.

    So to me, it all comes down to trusting your gut. I went indie this year with my writing, after a 4-year career with epublishers…and in a way, it’s like starting from scratch again because I wasn’t indie before. Could I have stuck with the publisher and kept pushing along? Of course I could’ve…but it just wasn’t working for me anymore, so I quit. I might be starting from scratch yet again but I am more at peace with myself. It might take me another 4-5 years to build an indie readership, but I know I feel better in my skin now, and that’s what’s important. Success to me means feeling the best I can in any given situation, and my definition of success is happiness in everything I do. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, so yeah, that did imply quitting and I did it. 🙂

    Thanks again for telling us that it’s okay to be people! <3 *hugs*

  4. Another example of productive quitting. I was in the ministry for over 10 years and one of my responsibilities was to work with the financial books. Several years ago life happened and I quit. Understandably my quitting was not looked at favorably. I got a “real” job in finances and have learned a lot.

    Recently, I got back in part time to help with the books. The knowledge I have now is making a substantial impact in my understanding of how to bring better order at my church. Go figure.

  5. Hahaha!

    According your definition, I’m pretty stupid. I tend to pursue things until there is nothing left for me to give, except up.

    I like the way you illustrate your thought with your BJJ, it really brought the point home to me.

    Thanks, Kristen. I am going to go back and start over on my stalled novel, using your BBT example from your other blog. (My current BBT is pretty much as effective as wet toilet paper.)

  6. Excellent article and hitting home…like usual. Recently, I went through a transformation. I am 42 years old and crossfit. My ego battled incessantly with my misconstrued view of ‘age’. I kept hurting myself because I still thought like a 20 year old, yet would make excuses that I couldn’t do certain movements because I was ‘old’. I was getting nowhere fast. Finally, I had to quit. Not crossfit, but my old way of thinking. I acknowledged that I wasn’t 20 anymore, I was 42 and had to start thinking like one. I took a step back, slowed down and started healing my injuries. My mindset changed and now I’m progressing, not injuring myself, and content that I will, indeed, get that elusive muscle-up one day. Quitting can be a liberating thing. 🙂

  7. Count me among the ranks of those who hate to be a beginner. To the point of stupidity? Yup, been there, too. Thanks Kristin, for a refreshing and timely blog on how to move on in order to be more productive.

    That damn ego. Trips me up every blasted time.

    ; )

  8. I really liked your analysis of that old quote about quitting. It reminded me of the old saying about the definition of insanity, i.e. doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. There is a time to quit, and a time to hang in there. I guess wisdom is knowing when to do which.

  9. Hi Kristen,

    I would like to link back to this on my blog, but don’t know how to do it as there is no “reblog” this button or WordPress option to do so that I can find.

    Smiles, Nancy

  10. I love this idea of recognizing the component of learning as opposed to winning. We are so hard on ourselves it seems that we forget that we can walk away and still take the experience with us.

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