Oct 29

The Characteristics of Success and How to Apply Them

The Characteristics of Success and How to Apply Them

One day, I walked into the library, and something quite unexpected happened..

By chance, my eyes fell upon a book, and it had a word on the cover that stood out to me. You could probably guess which one it was if you take just a moment to look up above.

I picked it up, read a little bit, and then it left the building with me.

On that particular day though, my intent had simply been to renew a few books that I wasn’t quite done with them. So it was quite the unexpected find.

Now I’ve read it, and I believe that there are some great lessons that can be taken from it and applied to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. That’s exactly what I’m going to do here.

The Premise of the Book

Similar to Outliers, Rebounders is a book that profiles successful individuals in order to identify and highlight common traits and patterns. The main difference between the two books lies in the level of focus that Rebounders places on internal factors of success.

In fact, the last chapter of the book focuses on common elements that define a rebounder. Oh, I should explain that term first.

  • Rebounders: These are individuals who have the developed an increased ability to navigate through obstacles and setbacks to achieve their goals.
  • Wallowers: These are individuals who break down in the face of adversity and blame their troubles on external factors.

One thing that is frequently reinforced in the book is that whether you are a rebounder or not right now, it’s never something that can’t be changed.

So here are 9 characteristics of a rebounder:

  1. They Accept Failure
  2. They Compartmentalize Emotions
  3. They Have A Bias Toward Action
  4. They Change Their Mind Sometimes
  5. They Prepare For Things To Go Wrong
  6. They’re Comfortable With Discomfort
  7. They’re Willing To Wait
  8. They Have Heroes
  9. They Have More Than Passion

One note about this before we go into the application is that none of the individuals identified as rebounders in the book had all of those traits. Instead, each of them had different combinations of the characteristics.

Look for the Silver Lining

Failure is always a possibility. That’s a fact.

It doesn’t matter if you compete or not. Every time, you step on the mat, there is that possibility that you will fail in some way. Perhaps, all  your favorite techniques just aren’t working or you’re getting submitted over and over again. Whatever it may be, there is something that you can gain from that experience.

You should know that though, right? It’s been a concept that has been reinforced in many forms and by many individuals, but I still see people who haven’t made the effort to ingrain the concept in their mind.

Just doing that small thing would massively help your rate of growth in this art.

Don’t Let Emotions Interfere with your Goals

There are emotions that can be helpful as well as those that can be harmful when it comes to success in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. We all understand that. The issue lies in controlling it all.

Make the effort, and always place your goals above all else.

Take Massive Action

There are so many ways to improve your jiu-jitsu. You could go to class and pay attention. That’s always a good option. You could watch tape and instructionals. You could visualize your performing technique in various situations. You could coordinate with teammates to drill outside of class.

Of course, there are far more options than that, but all of them are better than doing nothing.

Change Course if Necessary

I once read an article by Martin Rooney in Gracie Mag, where he said that one of the limitations to being great at anything is being good at something else. Ultimately, it comes down to being self-aware and knowing when to adapt.

In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, your growth might require that you make significant changes. Examples would be learning a new position from scratch, changing your behavior, changing diet, a drastic change of training environment, among other things.

Prepare for the Worst

This is a little tricky. One concept to keep in mind is that attempting to avoid all risk is a risk in and of itself. Instead, the focus should be on identifying the risk and making efforts in advance to lessen the possible damage.

This idea is in play whenever you spend time learning defense.

 Weather the Storm

Embrace the grind. There are a lot of positions that just aren’t comfortable, but you can definitely increase your tolerance. It’s important because when you’re comfortable in really bad situations, it’s far easier to escape.

Are You in for the Long Haul

That’s the question that matters. If you put in time and focused effort, you can become great at this art.

There’s so much knowledge available out there. So “read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit.”

Model Success

There’s a very common idea that success leaves clues. This book is built on that idea.

Obviously, there are many successful individuals in the world of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu that we can learn from. In fact, you can learn something from everyone, no matter the color of their belt.

When Passion Isn’t Enough

There is a difference between passion and desire. You can be passionate about the art and have no desire to achieve anything in it. You can also flip the coin and switch that around.

Of course having both would be great, but defining your goals is absolutely essential.


This was a series of quick associations between Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and the characteristics that Newman highlighted in Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. The purpose was just to give a quick overview, without depriving you of the opportunity of actually reading the great stories.

Each story shows you how these intuitive characteristics have been developed and used to achieve success through all the obstacles and setbacks that are common in life.

I’m sure that you can find many ways to apply the lessons to your training. I know that I am.

Find this book. Read it. You will not regret it.[