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The Habits of Great Leaders: How Jiu-Jitsu Can Inspire You to Be One of the Best

Updated: Apr 4, 2023




“Always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are for your own.”

Great Grandmaster Carlos Gracie


What does it mean to be a leader? What qualities does an individual have to be a leader? Perhaps the most challenging question is: What virtues do individuals have that make them a great leader who inspires others to be great?


When asked what qualities a leader should have, answers often include having good communication skills, the ability to delegate, and influence. To take it a step forward to influence those around you, the leader must show respect and integrity. And of course, a good leader must also exhibit intelligence and the ability to learn and adapt quickly to a changing environment.


Let's look a little deeper now. When imagining the best leaders, you will also define them as people who show empathy for those around them, courage to make difficult decisions, and self-awareness of when improvements are necessary. As you can imagine this leader that embodies all these qualities, you can imagine someone to admire, be loyal to, and follow.


Then you add the secret sauce. This secret sauce makes that leader become an inspiration to others. It makes that leader humble and not tired from leading others to their success. That secret sauce is gratitude. When someone leads well, with all the above qualities, and then with gratitude in their heart for the opportunity, you have greatness. And success for many is bound to happen.


We believe that through the practice of Jiu-Jitsu, people get inspired to become better leaders. So many of these virtues are required of students. How can you not have the courage or the ability to learn and adapt quickly and do well at practicing the art? And if you do not have those qualities when you start Jiu-Jitsu, you will develop them. Along the way, you will develop empathy for your training partners and self-awareness about where you need improvement in your game.


Most of the time, students take the lessons learned while training off the mats into life. The result is they become better bosses, better parents, and Everyday Champions. People develop a deep respect for their training partners through the bond created on the Jiu-Jitsu journey. An understanding emerges about the role of having someone challenge you to become a better fighter is also challenging you to become a better person.


Sometimes these students seek leadership roles within the Jiu-Jitsu profession because they grow a desire to lead others to their greatness. These individuals have realized that practicing Jiu-Jitsu is more than just teaching them self-defense and more than an exercise program with a fun twist. Jiu-Jitsu is a tool. And sometimes, individuals choose to use this tool to become better leaders. This is a worthy path.


When a student decides they want to become more involved with Jiu-Jitsu, it often starts as a staff member within a school. When Jiu-Jitsu becomes your living in addition to your passion, something can change inside one's heart. The desire to do more, give to others what Jiu-Jitsu has given them, and become a leader to others.


Consider this quote by Aristotle:

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or greatness, but rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

When considering becoming a leader, we must consider the virtues one comes to the table with. In Jiu-Jitsu, a courageous, empathetic, self-aware person who learns quickly will do very well in learning the art. But without those virtues leading to good habits and consistency, they will only get so far.


So the discussion on virtues is not irrelevant. It is vital, but it must be matched with powerful habits that will create excellence for ourselves and all around us. If not, we run the risk of limiting our attempt to live a virtuous life through Jiu-Jitsu to intentions or wishful thinking.


When looking for a model to help people turn their highest ambitions and ideas into daily habits, we turned to the greatest leaders of Gracie Barra. We asked the ultimate question: What is it that the greatest leaders of Gracie Barra do consistently that sets them apart?


The answers to this question came from our thousands of interactions coaching hundreds of GB leaders worldwide. Once we stopped to analyze their behavior, we noticed patterns. These behavior patterns have been organized into the 7 Habits of Great GB Leaders.


What exactly is a habit? A habit is a meaningful, consistent, and intentional action taken by individuals. The discussion about the 7 Habits of Great GB Leaders has less to do with replacing bad habits with good habits and more to do with replacing good habits with habits of greatness. This is a crucial distinction because of our natural tendency to settle for less than our true potential.


The 7 habits we identified through our research were to always be on a mission, be energized, show up, always be learning, be a champion of the win or learn philosophy, create synergized, and empower people. We cover these habits in detail in the Instructor Certification Program (ICP) course Habits of the GB Leaders.

When one of our GB family members wants to embark on the journey of becoming a better leader, Gracie Barra jumps in to assist in any way we can. If you're going to lead, we want to give you the tools to do so. On this mission of Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone, we want to support any GB member that has a passion for the mission and wants to be a part of it.


If you have been contemplating taking on more of a leadership role within Gracie Barra, or if you are interested in challenging yourself to become a more active member of the GB family, you should look into the ICP. The tools are all there to help you. The more you invest in your Jiu-Jitsu journey, the more you will get out of it.



Blog Written by Dawn Korsen, a Gracie Barra Brown Belt



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