Introducing Rickson Gracie
For those of you who don’t know, Rickson Gracie (pronounced “Hickson” to us Westerners) is a Brazilian 9th degree red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu; a martial arts master who beat anyone and everyone in mixed martial arts from 1980 onward (I believe he retired in around the year 2000).
When I say he beat anyone and everyone, I mean anyone and everyone – bigger, smaller, leaner, meaner – BJJ, Judo, Sambo, MMA and even closed-door no-holds-barred fights – Rickson beat them all!
Rickson said that in his career he has fought over 460 times and never lost!
He is one tough individual!
But this is not why Rickson Gracie should be your hero!
There’s much more learn from him, whether you are a man, woman or child…
What you can learn from Rickson Gracie
You can find a 9-minute segment from the Joe Rogan Experience at the bottom of this article that is full of wise words. If we all applied just a few of these nuggets, our lives would be so much more fruitful.
In this article, I dissect Rickson’s brilliance into 7 simple life lessons:
1. I try to do things that are really relevant to my soul!
Rickson acknowledges that life is short, so in order to make the most of the time we have, we must do things that feed our souls!
I don’t have that much time, so I don’t waste time doing what people expect from me.
Rickson has sculpted a life that allows him to do the things that he loves so he can operate at his best…
Stretch, breath, joke, have fun, listen, party, whatever. – Then when I feel like I’m so happy, I can go and give my service.
Ask yourself, do you love what you do day-in day-out?
Only when you feel this happy can you provide your best service…
2. I always try to be of service!
You hear it everywhere – the secret to happiness and mental health is through giving; being of service to your family, friends, colleagues and community.
This is the selfish side to giving that results in feelings of personal pride and satisfaction, which are extremely important parts of our mental health.
Rickson mentions how he enjoys helping people gain knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu, nutrition and breathing…
It’s not about the price, it’s about the service! Then I put my head up – I have a nice day, it was a great day!
Providing a good service, being part of a community and teaching appreciative students, creates much more satisfactory feelings than those you get after reviewing you bank balance…
3. The best things in life money cannot buy!
Yet another saying we hear everywhere but pay little attention to!
The best things in life are free, money can’t buy happiness; more money, more problems, etc.
We hear these phrases everywhere, yet money is still the controlling factor in our lives. We should control money, not the other way around!
Rickson keeps things really simple when it comes to this…
I feel like the quality of my meals, the way I eat, my relationships, my sleep, those are very, very valuable assets, plus the time I have to do things I love to do.
He understands that the true value of life is not in the things you buy.
How much cost your motivation, how much cost your friends, how much cost your health, how much cost your intelligence, those things are priceless!
Again, he has created a lifestyle that he is in control of, not a lifestyle that controls him…
4. I have no fixed schedule!
Rickson does not wake up at set times to go to work, he does not eat when the clock says, and he does not sleep because it is time for bed.
He controls every moment of his life!
At this point, I [have] created a lifestyle which makes me feel good to engage in different arrangements.
By doing things relevant to his soul, being of service, and looking after the things that money cannot buy, Rickson remains full of energy and full of life!
He does not need a schedule to remain motivated.
Based on your commitments/your obligations, you become more like a robot and you lose the perspective of what you need to be at your best! And if you lose that perspective in your routine, you lose the ability to be at your best – maybe 80%, 70%, 60%, of what you should be, so you’re not going to be the best husband, fighter, father, employer, employee, etc.
And that’s what life is about. It’s about being your best, full of energy and excited for the day ahead…
5. When I dream, I do not dream small! I dream the biggest dream I can dream!
You know how it goes… excitement is the spice of life, so why not dream big!
Rickson dreams to bring excitement and passion into his life.
Without big bold dreams you can get caught feeling irrelevant and weak…
Either you go forward, or you don’t – don’t stay in the middle waiting for people or motivation– you will just be passing through life as if you’re irrelevant. It’s very weak!
Lack of dreams, lack of risk and lack of action leaves people drifting through life in a state of acceptance and conformity.
According to Rickson, if you are willing to sacrifice and break new challenges, you are in a state of liveness, excitement and unpredictability that makes you feel like you’re in heaven.
So dream and give it everything you’ve got, like it’s the last thing you do…
6. Today is a perfect day to die!
One routine that Rickson used to do on the morning of a fight was to thank god for being alive and acknowledge how perfect that day would be to die.
In essence, he treated every day as his last:
I’m accomplishing my dreams, I’m achieving my mission, I’m representing my family! I don’t compete to tap [tap-out] I go there to die – the other guy will have to kill me, I’m never going to tap! Quitting is unacceptable, to give up would be like giving up from my life.
This is not about sport, this is philosophical, almost spiritual.
He aims for his goals with such focus that he is willing to sacrifice his entire life!
Now, this is clearly not for everyone and Rickson doesn’t teach this, it’s just how he lives his life. His life is directed to accomplish and enjoy every day; yours can be too, it’s just a mindset!
He makes it clear that he’s happy to redirect his focus down another path if he finds something that doesn’t suit him, but he will never give up on something because he feels like he cannot do it.
I will take those falls as motivation to set up and try new strategies again.
In squeezing every inch of life out of each day, Rickson avoids what he believes is the ultimate form of cowardice…
7. In the past, the opposite of courage was cowardice, now it’s conformity!
According to Rickson, in the past, you were either courageous – tough enough to challenge and fight – or you were a coward – you chickened out.
He believed that cowardice was the opposite of courage but now the opposite of courage is conformity.
If you get caught on the compromise to maintain because you are afraid to risk… That keeps you from following your heart, following your ambition, that’s cowardice!
This is where we come full circle… conformity keeps you from doing things relevant to your soul, which prevents you from offering your best service, so you have to chase money and abide by fixed schedules that destroy your dreams and make you give up on enjoying every day as if it were your last!
Rickson Gracie – More than a fighter
Yes, Rickson Gracie was a great fighter, but it is his outlook on life that imposes much more of an impression on me than any of his choke holds or arm bars.
If we can all take just one or two of his messages to heart, and focus entirely on the quality of our lives, we can all become happier, healthier individuals!
Like all of the best advice, Rickson’s wisdom is simple and effective. Do something with it!