A Thought from Lao Tzu

What are the things about you that you need to let go of for you to become who you want to be?

There are things about us that are keeping us from reaching our goals. Be it with our BJJ, or in our careers, or even in our relationships. There are things about us that we treasure the most. However, not everything is worth keeping.


A friend of mine works in a firm that specializes in Leadership and Development. Let’s call him Ryan B. Now, having known Ryan for quite some time now, I knew that he may possess answers to questions about human behavior and the workings of motivation and self-growth. So in a way, I stumbled onto him in social media. And after a few pleasantries, we started talking about values. And things that we need to let go about us vs. the things that we need to keep. Initially, your brain goes into its usually defensive stance (like a BJJ guy going pulling the guard) as it tries to refute the idea of letting go of something that you treasure the most.

The logic was quite simple and brilliant: for anyone to grow, one must learn how to let go of the things that are keeping him from moving forward. Just because there are things that we treasure, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these things are valuable. A good example is hoarding. While watching cable TV, I stumbled upon this reality series about those who hoard. It’s phenomenal! Imagine an entire house being filled up by junk. An entire house full of knick-knacks collected for decades! Anything that you can think of. Now, the main objective of the show is to have these individuals let go of these items. They bring in experts, psychiatrists, counselors… the works! But in the end, the decision to let go and be healthy is up to the hoarder.


 Taking this into context, and the profound meaning of letting something go, I have come across a question which is complex and yet simple: what are the things that I need to let go of to be good at what I am doing?

Let’s take into account Jiu-Jitsu. Signing up for BJJ requires letting go of old habits. These habits could be drugs, unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy eating, and even some of our associations. These are things that we did treasure at some point. These are things that provide us with so much pleasure. These are objects that generally we  have decided are not letting us grow. Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

One of the notable icons that I have come across in Gracie Barra is Professor Orlando Sanchez. He told me about his life before he was in GB. It was a life of abuse and bad associations. Looking back at that interview (I will try to look for the interview and give a fresh take on it soon), in a way, he has let go of those things that kept him from growing. BJJ saved his life. But he took the first steps in letting go of who he was, to become what he might be. So far, he has done great! Lao Tzu was right.

These can be million different things that you may let go about you.

This may your negative self-image about your own game.

This can be the tournament the you lost last year.

This can be the injury that you feel is limiting your training.

This can be your eating habits that is keeping you from losing those extra pounds.

This can be a job that is not making you happy.

This can be your physical disability that is keeping you from succeeding (there is an old article in the Gracie Barra archives about a BJJ fighter in Australia who lost an arm and a leg and is now a blue belt!)

This can be your own laziness and procrastination.

Self-defeating, self-neglecting, self-depriving behaviors.

As humans, we derive our self-worth, self-image, from habits and things that get attached to us. Whether these things come into our lives by choice, or by accident!

Today’s Question: What are the things that you need to let go of for you to progress in your Jiu-Jitsu Journey? (You may post these answers in Gracie Barra’s Facebook Page.)