Sunday, February 27, 2011

Causality, Correlations, and Incentives

What is the correlation to you training every day let's say and you getting your black belt? What is the correlation of someone who trains infrequently and not getting a black belt? Is there any correlation at all? Is it just a coincidence? If you break it all down, you will see patterns in the numbers. Within the patterns you will see correlations, once you see the correlations, you see what the incentives are. Once you see what the incentives are, you see the causes.

First let me differentiate "want" and "cause." The difference lies in action. I can want a black belt, or I can want to win a world title, or I can want a nice car, but unless I cause some kind of change or effect, a want is internalized and will not exist in the physical world (though a cause cannot start without a want). I know someone who wants to find a good job. It's a want. Yet he is not looking for a job, and has quit his current job with the hope of finding a better job down the line, and to open up his time for that new job. For right now, his want is not a causality towards his incentive. If anything one could argue his actions are detrimental towards his incentives. There is no correlation between someone who quits their job and does not look for work, and someone who gets a high priced job. There is a correlation between someone who works hard and is looking for better work, and someone who gets that high priced job.

In BJJ there is a direct correlation 100% of the time with someone who trains often and gets their black belt quickly. There is also the same correlation for someone who does well at tournaments. So there is a correlation between someone focusing time towards BJJ and reaching their incentive, and a detrimental correlation between someone who takes time away from BJJ and reaching their incentive. They both have the same want, sometimes people believe if they want it more than the other guy, they will get it. That's a nice training slogan, but unless you cause the right effects, it will not happen. That's higher logic.

So what are the incentives of BJJ? Respect, glory, titles, competition, black belt, teaching, opening a school, money, being the best, and pride. There may be others, some personal to the individual but those are the broad stroke incentives. The main ones being titles, black belt, school, teaching, and money.

Let's take a simple one, getting your black belt. What is the correlation between getting your black belt and a white belt mounting their opponent and choking them out? Isn't that just part of the game? Yes for some. For goal driven players though it is more than that.

Here are a list of causes: A white belt wants to get a black belt some day. He knows something that a black belt can do easily that other belts have a hard time doing is, mounting and submitting. He knows starting this path early will help him get to black belt early. To do this he needs an opponent. He gets an opponent during open mat. He knows his instructors are watching. He makes his grips. Once he has those grips he can close the distance. Once that has occurred he can execute a simple trip. Once on the ground he can begin his pass to cross side. From cross side he will stabilize. Once stabilized he will slide the knee over to mount. From mount he will also stabilize, not wanting to jeopardize any part of his journey to black belt so he takes this added step. Once this is done, he will get his first grip on the collar. He gets his second grip, gets the right head position, then gets the submission. His instructors take note. He does this again the next day. He does this 7 days a week. Every week. Every year. Until he gets his black belt in 5 years. His instructors remembered. Each step lending and adding to each other, never jeopardizing any steps or forward progress. Never stalling momentum. Focused. Purpose driven.

There is a direct correlation between the causes, and the outcome, which is gaining his incentive. Now if there was no incentive, would he have still done all this? No. Humans are only motivated by incentive. He wouldn't do it just for the sake of doing it, no one would.

Even the black belt who didn't care about getting a black belt, never competed, never wanted to be famous, yet he teaches 8 hours of privates a day and makes 150 an hour. There is a financial incentive there. His goal was mastery of technique over everything else, there is financial gain to that. There is also financial incentive to being a black belt.

What is the best incentive to becoming the best at BJJ? Depends on the definition of best. Best in tournaments? Best absolutely? Best technically? Best teacher? Best person? All of these things are different. Becoming a good teacher, and becoming a better person through BJJ is easy to differentiate. Best at tournaments, best absolutely, and best technically are harder to decipher. Most assume that all three are the same. They are not. Best at tournaments means who is the best under a certain time frame. Royce Gracie would have lost most of his early matches if there was a 5 minute time limit. Does that mean his opponents at the time were better? This also means being best under the given terms and rules. Best absolutely then would mean someone who is the best without time limits or rules. So who gets the submission ultimately? Maybe the best guy takes a while to figure their opponent out, once they do, they smash them. What about best technically? Maybe they have the best moves but their conditioning is poor, or their mindset is easily broken. So world champion, best in the world, and best technical knowledge become three separate things. Too much emphasis is put on being the best being the same as being the best at a tournament. A gun is much easier to pull out and use than let's say a missile which takes more time to coordinate. But which one has more absolute destructive power? Which one will kill absolutely? You might beat let's say a young Rickson Gracie in the worlds in 10 minutes by advantage, but you couldn't finish him or get any position. With unlimited time, who would really finish who? Isn't it all about the finish and safety at the end of the day? In a real fight, they don't stand you up, nor give you warnings about stalling. As a purple belt I would destroy a normal person on the ground. But if they let's say only gave me 5 minutes to finish him, and stood us up every 60 seconds, the normal guy has also a very good chance of knocking my head off. Is he better than me?

Incentives and goals are different though. My goal as a student could be like I said to be the best. Instructors create incentives for you to become the best, such as tournaments, belts, etc. These incentives causes you to train and work hard and put in the right mat time and get in the right mindset to attain your goal. Like a parent giving a child a dollar every time they get an A. Rat + Cheese = End of maze.

If you have no goal it is hard to get good. If you have no incentive, it is also hard to get good. A lot of how good you get will be determined before you even step into your first academy. It will be based on your character, what kind of person you are. Someone who really wants to become the best and a black belt, may start running every morning to help him or her get there. There may be no direct correlation between running every morning and getting better. In fact BJJ cardio and running cardio are completely different. But it says something about the person, they are someone with the right mindset, someone who is always willing to try harder then the next guy, willing to put more time in than the next guy. That character trait will determine that person's success more than running will. Running is just a symptom of his character. His character is of someone who, once finds a want, given the right incentives, will do everything to cause that outcome. 

If you study all the "best" BJJ players in the world. There are patterns. Almost absolute patterns. The patterns are direct correlations to what they have achieved. They all wanted to become the best. Their incentives were the same as everyone else, black belt, titles, etc. How they got there though is unique and most academies only have maybe 3% of the students doing this. Which is training two times a day. Constantly asking questions. Constantly watching and studying techniques. Never taking extended breaks. Most importantly, sacrifice. They sacrifice a lot in their life. If your goal is to become "the best" and none of these patterns sound like you, you have to ask yourself then how realistic your goal is? Why are you not doing these things when these are the proven methods to get there? Do you have the right incentive? Probably not if you are not willing to commit like that. Maybe your incentives are not realistic or tangible for you. Or you have other incentives that are more important. You may want to be the best more than anything. But you have more incentive to work 15 hours a day and make a lot of money.

I have a friend who came up with the idea for the movie Battle of LA about 9 years ago. What did he do about it? Nothing. What did he want to do about it? Make it a movie. What did someone else do about it years later? Make a movie about it. Successful people all realize, execution is much more important than the idea. In this case my friend didn't have incentive to write it because he didn't know if anyone would buy it, watch it, etc. The incentives were too intangible for him as a person. He is used to direct incentive, work, get paid an hourly wage. Stay at home and play games, waste hours having fun. It's direct. Writing a movie which he had never done before offered none of these sorts of incentives he was used to.

What is your goal? What are you going to do to get there? What are you doing now to get there? What are you going to do in the next 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 years? Do you have the right incentives? If not given the right incentives did you give yourself the right incentives? But who really thinks like this? I guess just 1% of the world, the truly successful people. However you define success. But then again for them to be successful, they have to do better than the rest of us, so of course that means there is only room for a few to do this.

Sometimes when you have the right person, the right goal, the right incentives, you get success. A life driven by purpose with no wasted energy and time spent outside of attaining their goal.

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