Dec 05

Are You Willing to Look Like a Fool

Are You Willing to Look Like a Fool

That’s a question that you should ask yourself if you’re serious about mastering anything

But who wants to look like a fool? We all want to look good. We want to impress. It’s hard to let go of vanity. It’s also hard to let go of habits that you’ve already formed.

There’s a parable highlighted in Mastery that illustrates that point.  George Leonard describes a situation where a person has a cup of milk in hand and a quart of milk on the table within reach. In order to attain the greater quantity of milk, the person will have to let go of the cup.

It’s in that transition where you will look like a fool.

You’ve let go of the cup, but you haven’t yet attained the quart. Who knows how much time will pass between those two points. To be great though, you can’t be content with just being good.

Let’s Go Deeper

I’m in that transition right now. There are areas in my skill set where I’m confident, and I have a high degree of success when I force matches into those situations.  There are also areas where I’m not confident.

There’s a choice present in situations like that.

You can either hold on to the cup and just focus on what you’re already good at, or you can let go of it and strive to learn new things.

For me, I’m trying to let go of the cup, and I’m going to look like a fool at times in the process. I’m going to get swept, my guard is going to get passed, and I’m going to get submitted.

None of that matters.

All that matters is the commitment to the process.

Gear Shift

So are you able to answer that question yet? Oh, you know the one in the title of the post.

Are you willing to look like a fool?

Oh, still thinking about it? Alright, I’ll give you a little scenario.  Imagine for a second that you’re rolling with a lower belt and your instructor is watching you. You can feel his eyes on you, and he’s watching with intense focus.

In that situation, would you be willing to work on something new? Or would you revert to your A game in order to impress?

It depends, right?

Hopefully, this little expansion on a fundamental concept can help you make that decision. Just remember that there’s nothing wrong with looking like a fool sometimes if your goal is mastery.


  1. The Ghost

    I completely agree, I recently gave up a submission that I have a high success rate at, so I am forced to develop other areas of my game. In the short run I will be tapping out people a lot less, in the long run I will have a more well rounded game and expand my options instead of being one dimensional. It’s that faith that I CAN expand my game which enables me to get better. I think some people tell themselves they can’t do this or can’t do that so they only focus at what they are good at.

    1. Kenneth Brown

      Hmm. You just made me look at the concept a different way. It can really just be summed up as sacrificing short term prowess for long term development.

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