An Abundance of Choice. The One Thing You Need to Do as a Beginner.

When I interviewed for my first full-time job at EY back in 2011, one of the most attractive features of positions in this kind of large companies was a possibility to move around, gain broad experience within different teams and work streams.

This is still one of the key selling points during the graduate recruitment fairs among many firms.

I was excited –  the concept of ‘learning ins and outs of multiple industries in a progressive business environment’ somehow has a luxurious flair to it, when you come out of college/university.

Around the same time, I took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In BJJ, one of the most attractive features is its virtual infinity. There are countless positions, techniques, and combinations, which you won’t be able to fully discover in five lifetimes. And the best part – these days, you can find almost anything online – every black belt has a Youtube channel or a DVD instructional.

As a beginner, this abundance drives your insane. I stopped counting the number of times my students show up to a class with a smile on their face, ready to show the coolest new move they came across on some world champion’s Instagram feed. Berimbolos, omoplatas, gogoplatas, lockdowns etc. (Non-BJJ people, don’t even try to understand the origin of all these words).

So you learn a couple of these tricks, pull them off in training on a fellow beginner, confidently go into a tournament daydreaming about the chosen ‘weapon’ (I still daydream about a flying armbar before every tournament – never tried it), to get beaten by an ‘accidental’ guard pass, because you couldn’t even break down their posture properly to finish a triangle choke. None of the tricks from the past week helped.

bjj-posture

Back to my first years in the office. I often switched between a number of teams and projects trying to jump on every cool assignment. Some offered amazing travel opportunities, others promised exposure to senior executives in organisations.

Looking at it now, although I became good at a few things and could plug a lot of holes, I was not good enough at anything specific to make a big step forward and to take on some serious responsibilities.

The best analogy I can come up with is from football/soccer: I was a perfect super-sub. Nobody wants to be a super-sub. Everyone wants to start in the first 11.

It wasn’t until I settled with my current team that I finally developed into a highly competent professional.

So, my friendly advice is this: FOCUS. Instead of chasing every shiny thing out there, concentrate your efforts on a single type of activity, even for a little while. This relates to both your BJJ training and professional career, and this is how you become solid in each respective area.

This idea is far from original.  “A rolling stone gathers no moss” – goes the old proverb. I am just providing an anecdotal proof. One simply cannot develop sufficient skills and/or reputation in a particular field without putting the right amount of work in, which requires time. Time is scarce, so prioritize and focus!

I am really interested in your thoughts on this! Do you agree or disagree? Or perhaps have some extra points to make? Let me know – comment or drop me a message through the contact form!

And don’t forget to subscribe!

Peter

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