Life is fighting. I have stronger belief in this maxim everyday of life’s journey. I am a ‘fighter’ of sorts, having worked in a few BJJ competitions between knee injuries, and certainly martial arts, since I started training in ’98 and increasingly over the past 4 to 5 years especially the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, has been the prism through which I understand the world. ‘Fighting’ is, as I’ve touched on previously, a many splintered thing and the principles I understand as fundamental for tearing it up on the mats, for me, underpinned FOWA’s second day of talks.
It is difficult to separate out three distinct principles, as in practice, they are organic to one another and represent articulations of different means of overcoming the limitations of ego. With that in mind, I propose three Warrior Principles for Start-ups/Cheerleaders/Zoo Keepers and Your Mom, because really they are grand notions that run through everything. Remember, life *is* fighting.
- Be in the now
- Be fearless
- Be committed
I’ll take the third principle first. Be committed. In tech community parlance this translates as ‘passion’. This really came through for me during Alex Hunter’s discussion of brand savvy. His message in a nutshell: there’s no room to half-ass it, believe everyday that your project is awesome and let that standard of excellence and personal investment drive your business activities. Or, as Coach says, ‘if you believe in your sweep, more than he believes in his base, you’ll get it’. This isn’t some sort of Jedi mind trick that magically teleports you to the top of Google’s page rankings or mashes your opponent’s side into the mats, rather absolute trust in your technique allows you to deliver it with powerful conviction and if your competitor is that much less confident, well then, you just might take their back and sink in an RNC (oh the joy!). Total commitment could be considered an expression of an unselfconscious state of being, where fears of failure or timidity associated with looking like a douche don’t come into play. This state can best be achieved when fearlessly existing in ‘the now’. Only with girded loins and a solid heart can we move forward to embrace change with positivity.
Lynne D Johnson’s consideration of the ‘future of print’ and Gary Vaynerchuck’s thoughts on, well, ‘crushing it’, for me, particularly stressed the importance of adapting to change and rolling with the punches. What does this mean, in practice? I turn to the rubric of BJJ for understanding. When starting my BJJ journey, I, like white belts the world over, found safety and comfort in holding on to positions that were long past their expiry. This is a manifestation of fear and the misguided desire to impose our will on a fluid situation rather than grappling with the opportunities as they are, there and then: see Gary’s advice to ‘stop your cryin’ and exploit the opportunities that *are* there, rather than fixating on those that aren’t. As I’ve metamorphosed into blue belt over the past year, fear remains an issue for my game, but chasing long dead positions is far less prominent in my rolling than in the early days. Fear of change leads to an inability to adapt and, well, you adapt or die. The more I am fully invested in the now, and the more I capitalise on immediate opportunities the more I am able to fight well and this allows me to win. Winning isn’t just tapping someone out, though sometimes that is an effect, but it is coming away from the experience with the most personal growth. Okay, a bit ‘new age’ perhaps, but as Vaynerchuck noted he is, ‘always about the process not the results’. It is the means, not the ends, that make us stronger and impart the confidence and skills to deal with change as it presents itself.
So, how did I enact these Warrior Principles at FOWA? I reverse stage-dived the ‘Kevin and Gary Show’ (a Q&A; session with Kevin Rose and Gary Vaynerchuck). Gary asked for a show of hands, ‘who has a start-up’, and then invited us on stage, or at least the first one that could get there. I looked to my left and apart from my business partner there was one dude at the end, but I was calculating this as I jumped the dude’s legs and laptop bag. I’m turning and running at a good clip towards the stage and glimpse movement out of the corner of my eye and only then realised; the steps are to the left, there’s someone headed for them and stairs are for chumps. I’m taking the most direct route. A parallel process, also spawned, is determining if there are stairs at the front of the stage, without my glasses I can only make out what appear to be tiers, no, not tiers just detailing; gonna have to vault. My bod picks up pace and I’m putting my hands above me onto the stage and jumping to get my hips over, *knowing* that if I get my hips over the ledge I’m in. Swing my leg up and over, and boom, first on stage. Recognise
Yes, I flashed my ass to the audience as my dress was not built for scaling stages. Yes, I was totally unprepared to pitch Braineos. Yes, my domain wasn’t even configured properly and we’re still frantically trying to tighten up our core features and implement our beautiful Safetygoat design in order to push to private alpha in 6 to 8 weeks. But, ‘big whoop’, these things meant nothing; I was completely committed, I was in the now and fearless. I saw the position and I went for it without *thinking* without the limitations of ego, just was and did in unison. This is what it is all about. Man oh man, I rejoice that I am a grappling-geek.