Lessons from Wrestling Part I

Wrestling is on the chopping block.  It may not be a sport in the 2020 olympic games.  Lots of people have written about how it’s the oldest sport in the world, one of the most diverse in the olympics, and generally about why it should stay in the games.  I thought I’d share a few things that wrestling taught me, and why I think it’s so important.

Wrestling taught me to be humble.  It’s easy to believe your own hype, it’s easy to think you’re impregnable when on a hot streak, and generally this mindset is suboptimal to meeting goals, and keeping strong relationships with the people you care about.

In 2012, David Taylor had just capped off an undefeated sophomore season, and won the Hodge trophy (wrestling’s Heisman).  He looked absolutely unbeatable.  Then, he ran into Kyle Dake, another current collegiate wrestler, who showed him there is always someone better out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObMv1DrHaPc.

Lincoln Mcllravy won the NCAAs as a true freshman, had an undefeated season as a sophomore and another national title.  As a junior, he seemed indomitable, and crush his opponents all year long, until the NCAA finals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7WSxK-J8vI.

Of course, the best example is Dan Gable.  Gable hadn’t lost in highschool, and had gone unbeaten all the way through college, until his last match, when he failed to Larry Owings.  He used this to fuel a grueling training regimin that ended in a dominant Olypmic run.  During his final 21 matches, he pinned 13 opponents, and outscored the rest 130-1, with the lone point going to Larry Owings.

There is always someone out there who is better.  There is a Larry Owings dropping two weight classes because he wants to take a shot at beating you.  There is a Steve Marianetti who knows they can put together 6 minutes of great wrestling to knock off the returning champion.

I’d say the same lesson is applicable across life and business.  If you’re complacent, you forget to be a great friend or family member.  You don’t call to catch up with your old college roommate, or wish your grandmother a happy birthday.

In business, you forget that what you’ve done can be accomplished by others, and that there is always someone out there waiting to knock you off.   I always liked this video of the RIM (Blackberry) CEO as he starts going on about how the company is a “iconic” “leader” in 2011.  He seems like the type of person you’d want to try and disrupt as a startup.  Check it out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9456798.stm

Wrestling teaches you there is always someone better out there, always someone who can pin you down.  I learned this time and again on the mats.  Nothing is more humbling than getting beat physically by an opponent in front of your friends/teammates and family.  But, learning that you can pick yourself up and learn from your experiences is worth the pain.

If you think wrestling should stay in the olympics,http://www.insidethegames.biz/polls/75-which-sport-do-you-think-should-be-part-of-the-olympic-programme-for-2020