Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Advise Others, Advise Yourself

A couple of years ago, there was a study by Lauren Eskries-Winkler and Angela Duckworth1 that argued that giving advice actually helps the advisor.

They wanted to figure out how to increase grit, and they found the answer was to give advice to other people on how to be gritty.

Duckworth was interviewed about the study on the Choiceology podcast (partially written up here). In the first segment, drummer Mike Mangini is interviewed and talked about how teaching prepared him for the most important audition of his career and got him the job. This reminded me a bit of when Ryron Gracie and Andre Galvao competed at the first Metamoris in 2012. After not competing for several years, Ryron got a draw against Galvao, a multiple time world champion and actively competing at the time. After the match, Ryron said:

It shows how teaching keeps you sharp. I teach all day, I don’t care about competing. So you can give me a month’s notice and I’ll go with him or anybody in the world.

As instructors, we already know that teaching others helps our own jiu-jitsu.

But at the end of the Duckworth segment, what I found most interesting was this:

I think there’s a lesson here for leadership. If you want the weakest person on your team to improve, your impulse would probably be to shower them with advice, and that’s not entirely the wrong move, because they might need to know things that they don’t know. But I wonder what the effect would be if you take that weak link on your team and to ask them to mentor a new person. What we might unlock there is a confidence that had previously not been realized and intuitions that had not been carried out.

  1. Duckworth is a professor that is well-known for her book Grit, and Eskries-Winkler was a graduate student in her class at the time. ↩︎

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