Financial Jiu-Jitsu- Leave your Ego at the Door!


Dr. Ajamu Loving receiving his 2nd Degree brown belt from Master Carlos Machado

As January comes to a close some of us are filled with dread. We made promises to ourselves, sometimes quite publicly, about how we were going to make changes. New Year, New you!!! Remember that?

Unfortunately, research suggests that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February. The bigger problem is that often when we break, WE BREAK!! That is, we abandon our desired discipline and goals completely and drown our sorrows in Hennessy and twinkies (don’t judge my vices). I want you to change your way of thinking about your financial resolutions, I want you to learn financial Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu is my martial art and I have been practicing since 1999. You’d think after all these years of practice, I’d be ready to call myself a master. Nope, not yet! But I study under a master named Carlos Machado, who has taught me all sorts of techniques and philosophies that have improved my life.

Jiu-jitsu is a grappling art where you simulate a fight to the death. You and your opponent wrestle one another, at full force, until one person makes a mistake. When they make a mistake, you choke them or hyperextend a limb to its breaking point. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?

Here is where the art becomes magical. Once you reach the breaking or choking point you can stop all the action by ‘tapping’. A tap is a submission or yielding where you acknowledge that you’re otherwise dead, the action stops completely, and you get to start all over again. In fact, a literal translation of Jiu-Jitsu is “yielding/ gentle art”. The entire art is about the journey of learning, making mistakes, and moving past them.

The great thing about simulating a fight to the death 5 times in an hour session, 3 times a week is that everything else seems a bit less difficult. You start to think about the actual movements you made and how to do the right thing more often. You also think about how you can limit the severity of the mistakes you make and make them less frequently. You either win, or you learn, but you never completely lose because you never quit the game.

This is the tough part, not quitting. When you admit a mistake, it’s a humbling thing and for many, it’s a terrible feeling. When you made a financial promise to yourself and made a mistake, it can be humbling too. The key is to take your ego out of it and remember your financial goals and practice your technique so your next encounter can be a better outing.

In Jiu-jitsu, it’s often said that the master in the room is the person who has tapped more than anyone else. The mastery that they have is not based on them being superhuman, it is about them taming their ego enough to acknowledge mistakes and move forward.

So, you bought something that you shouldn’t have or didn’t save as much as you wanted to in January. It’s ok, TAP, acknowledge your mistake and examine your strategy to avoid messing up next month. You may make a different mistake next month, but the important thing is to stay on the journey.

Don’t let your bruised ego push you further from your goals. Leave your ego at the door and keep on fighting. You can do this! I believe in you! Remember, People are more important than things.

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