This week, I had Carlos Catania on my podcast. He’s a fourth degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
As he took me through his journey through the belt system, he made a simple claim which completely changed the way I see improvement.
He said that each time he progressed to the next belt–purple belt to brown belt for example–he wasn’t climbing the totem pole; he was starting over.
“You may be the best purple belt in the tournament; beating everybody, winning every time…but once you get that brown belt, you’re the worst brown belt in the group. You’re starting over.”
This pattern continues even at the highest levels. Again, he is a fourth degree black belt (training for about 25 years), and admits he still has much to learn and that there are plenty of grapplers out there who could destroy him.
We can take this lesson and implement it in any skill we wish to improve.
I feel my content is improving: my videos are looking better, the podcast is sounding more captivating, my website looks more organized…With all of this, it literally feels as though I have ‘leveled up.’
But all evidence from the past tells me each time I feel this way, once the high is over, I feel the greatest amount of Resistance I’ve felt yet. Once that ‘tier’ is reached, the standards and responsibilities to maintain those standards ascend as well.
When you get better at something, you want to be consistent with your new skills and abilities. This experience can be inspiring, crippling, euphoric, and agonizing all at the same time.
The pain doesn’t go away. Learn to love it. Each time you get better, you’re just starting over.