Ronda Rousey is having a busy year. She’s appeared in Furious 7 and Entourage, out today, released a memoir titled My Fight/Your Fight, and posed in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue — all on top of her MMA and UFC victories. It would be too much for most people to handle, but most people aren’t like Rousey. The 28-year-old has trained her entire life for this moment — waking up hours earlier than her peers, always running that extra mile, repeatedly, obsessively practicing the same judo move — until she became, by sheer willpower, the best.
Her success, she says, is the result of great wins and great losses — both professionally and personally. Below, five of the most important lessons she’s learned along the way.
Tragedy precedes success.
My great-grandmother always said, “God knows what he’s doing, even when you don’t.” I agree with her. There is nothing in my life that I would go back and change, even in the darkest moments. All the successes and greatest joys in my life are a result of the absolute worst things. Every missed opportunity is a blessing in disguise.
A loss leads to a victory. Being fired leads to a dream job. Death leads to a birth. I find comfort in believing that good things can grow out of tragedy.
(All Photos: Eric Williams)
Champions always do more.
Every time I step into the cage, I am absolutely confident I will win. Not only am I a superior fighter, not only do I want it more, but I have worked harder than [my opponent] ever will. That is what truly sets me apart.
Growing up, Mom hammered into me how much harder champions worked than anyone else. When I complained about going to practice or when I hit the snooze on the alarm instead of getting up to go running, my mom would say casually, “I bet [insert whoever my arch-rival at the time happened to be] is training right now.”
She had me stay after practice and work on drills. Whenever I pointed out that no one else’s mother made them stay, she simply informed me, “Champions always do more.”
Find fulfillment in the sacrifices.
People love the idea of winning an Olympic medal or a world title. But what few people realize is that pretty much every second leading up to the actual win is uncomfortable, painful, and impossibly daunting — physically and mentally. Most people focus on the wrong thing: They focus on the result, not the process. The process is the sacrifice; it is all the hard parts — the sweat, the pain, the tears, the losses. You make the sacrifices anyway. You learn to enjoy them, or at least embrace them. In the end, it is the sacrifices that must fulfill you.
Winning is a habit.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Winning is a habit, and so is losing.
You can get into the habit of going into a tournament, a meeting, or an audition, telling yourself: This is just for practice. If I fail, I can always try again later. If you go in with your excuses already laid out for you, it’s hard to shake that mindset when “later” finally comes.
Or, you can go into every endeavor with the attitude that you are going to knock this one out of the park. You can tell yourself: I am bringing my “A game” because that is the only grade of game that I have. I am here to win, and you can come along for the ride or you can get the hell out of the way.
You have to be willing to embarrass yourself.
You have to ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen? What is the worst possible outcome?” When I’m fighting, the worst that could happen is that I’ll die or be permanently maimed. For pretty much everything else, the answer is the worst that could happen is I’ll suck or make myself look like an idiot. Compared to dying, that’s pretty low on the scale of bad things that could happen. Fighting really puts everything in perspective and keeps me from being afraid.
Excerpted from My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey with Maria Burns Ortiz. Copyright © 2015 by Ronda Rousey. Published by Regan Arts. Used with permission.
(Photo: Regan Arts)