“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”
This African proverb holds a lot of truth: the smallest things regularly make the biggest impact.
When we begin something new, we might be terrible, feel terrible. If you’re feeling this way now, don’t fret. We’re supposed to be terrible at new things. But bit by bit, small habit by small habit, you’ll see yourself improve.
Everyone that became great at Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and life stayed committed to the little things. Even the best competitors started off like everyone.
Showing up on time. Showing up at all. Keeping ourselves, our gear and our academy clean may not seem all that significant, but it allows us to continue being together — training together, getting better together. Together we achieve great things.
We grow stronger, wiser, bolder; the fear begins to dissipate.
As the years go on, this nagging feeling revisits us. We have different names for it: a slump, a rut, riding the struggle bus. We also give ourselves more colorful or vulgar ways of describing our own performance, too. We may tell ourselves we’re “too fat” for our division or “we suck” when it’s just an off day.
These little things also show up when we take a success a little too proudly, when we believe ourselves a little better than we are. We may start to think think our accomplishments, title or status entitle us to something.
This is the mosquito. Our room is full of mats, and the mats don’t lie.
Notice the mosquito
The little things nudge us in the right or wrong direction pretty easily; most of the times we don’t even know that it’s happening.
Which direction we take and how these things manifest themselves is largely up to us — but only if we pay attention. Regardless of what we tell ourselves, good and bad, about ourselves, the brain is always listening. That grey supercomputer between the ears never misses anything we tell ourselves.
The best in our sport don’t ignore the little things. In fact, experts do the basics the best.
We see it everywhere. We definitely feel it training when the person we’re training has the right angle, right frames, right grip, right footwork or other little detail that changes everything. We find it in the academy, but it transfers to ever aspect of our lives. The best parents, spouses, teachers, drivers and scientists see the value in the little things and act on them accordingly. It’s the compounding interest of life.
What little thing can we do today to improve our lives and those around us?
Easy. Clean our room. Take the garbage out before we’re asked. Show up to train on time and ready to work. Say something kind to someone. Eat a little better. Stretch.
Nothing crazy. Just the little things. Over time they add up to big results.
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