We can often learn from unexpected places

I’m currently listening to Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.  I’ll post a fuller review later but so far it has been full of brilliant insights from a whole host of pioneers, past and present (including Holiday himself).  One of the people he draws inspiration from earlier in the book is mixed martial arts all-star and coach, Frank Shamrock.

According to Wikipedia, Shamrock had a glittering career which included being the first fighter to hold the UFC Middleweight Championship (later renamed the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship) and retired as the four-time defending undefeated champion.

Find your Plus, Minus, Equals

An impressive resume (if you’re into martial arts).  But the insight that stuck out in Holiday’s book was far more strategic and impressive.  As a coach, when developing fighters Shamrock adopts an approach called ‘Plus, Minus, Equals’.  His structure ensures that every fighter has regular time with other fighters who will stretch them in different ways.

‘Plus’ equates to a fighter who has better skills, to give the person a level to aim for.

‘Minus’ equates to another fighter who has less skill or who the person can mentor and teach.  This pushes them to think in a different way, forcing them to work on explaining the theory behind each aspect of becoming a great fighter in a way that someone who is developing their skills can understand.  Of course, they’re also giving something back.

Finally ‘Equals’ equates to having someone at the same level as the fighter who they can compete with every step of the way.

Holiday defines the benefits of the system beautifully:

“The purpose of Shamrock’s formula is simple, to get real and continuous feedback about what they know and what they don’t know, from every angle. It purges out the ego that puffs us up, the fear that makes us doubt ourselves and any laziness that might make us want to coast.”

Shamrock himself observed:

“False ideas about yourself destroy you.  For me, I always stay a student, that’s what marshall arts are about and you have to use the humility as a tool”.

It occurred to me that this is a fantastic structure to adopt in any aspect of your personal or professional life.  Surely we’d all benefit by finding our Plus, Minus, and Equals?

 

Posted by Steven Thomas

Fan of great ideas and (especially) the people that make them work. Steven is the creator of CurveFinder exploring subjects like collaboration, leadership, creative endeavour and personal development. He's spent over two decades working in the UK media industry holding various senior business and creative leadership roles, most recently with a focus on Digital Transformation and Corporate Start-ups. Accomplished coach and mentor. Seth Godin's altMBA Alumni. Lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young family. Always in the kitchen at parties.

2 Comments

  1. […] MMA trainer Frank Shamrock has a system he trains fighters in that he calls plus, minus and equal. He believes that every […]

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