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M5 Jiu-Jitsu Program Highlight the Importance of Motivation | Interview with M5’s Ben Irvine

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As you might imagine, not all of the original members of M5’s Jiu-jitsu program are still participating.  As part of my series of interviews leading up to our customer appreciation and corporate learning event on May 3 in New York City, I wanted to chat with people who finished the program as well as some who didn’t.  Our Divisional Vice President of Operations, Ben Irvine, shared what he learned from the program as well as why he decided to drop out.

Why did you join the jiu-jitsu program?

When M5 introduced the M5 Rock program I didn’t participate and I really wished I had.  When I heard about Jiu-jitsu I thought that would be something I would enjoy even more.  I also liked the opportunity to spend time with my co-workers and participate in team building.

Were you someone who exercised regularly before?

No.  I’m always active, but I wasn’t doing anything organized.

Had you ever participated in martial arts before?

No.  Not at all.

What did you expect to learn from it?

I really didn’t know what to expect.  I figured it would be a good workout if nothing else.  I also thought that there might be a Zen aspect to it.  I play a lot of golf and the Zen approach has worked for me there.

Were you afraid if injury or embarrassment?

Not really.  I’m pretty lucky and resilient.  I didn’t want anyone to rip my head off or anything, but it wasn’t a big concern.  I didn’t worry about being embarrassed at all.

What did you learn about yourself though this experience?

I’m not sure I learned too much about myself, but I did learn a lot about motivation.  Before the program I read “The Art of Learning” as well as a book called the “Talent Factory.”  It talked about three main components to mastery.  The first is to have a spark.  I had that.  I was interested in the program, particularly for the team building.  But you need more than just a spark; you also have to have ongoing motivation.  You have to like what you are doing and have a reason why.  That’s where it really broke down for me.  The last aspect of mastery is a good coach.  We certainly had that, but I just didn’t have enough motivation for it to add up for me.

At time I was in the program I was working on career pathing at M5.  I tried to use what I learned about motivation to build a better career path for our employees.  We need to find ways to ignite sparks and keep up motivation over time.

What, if anything, did you learn about your co-workers?

It was interesting to see how individuals reacted to the program.  Everyone had a different level of dedication and some worked harder at it than others.  There were some really great moments.  I got to throw Brian Klansky on the floor, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

Did you experience any physical changes?

Not really, but the classes were really good workouts.

What lead to your decision to leave the program?

It started with growing constraints on my time.  When it came time to prioritize, I realized that I just didn’t love it.  It also lost some of the appeal for me as quite a few others left the program.  The end date was also extended beyond December, which I hadn’t expected.

At one point, I was going to go back when more morning classes were added, but I was in the shower getting ready to go and I imagined the smell of a sweaty Gi (I have an incredible imagination for smell) and had the epiphany that I just didn’t want to go.

Are you glad you made that decision, or do you wish you had finished?

Yes.  It was the right decision for me.

Would you participate in something like this again?

I would consider it, but I would think about it more carefully and would likely weigh the decision for a longer period of time before signing up.

What do programs like this tell you about M5?

I spend a lot of time talking to prospective employees and I tell them about the types of things we do related to learning.  They always tell me that they’ve never heard anything like it.  M5 really values experiential learning and programs like Jiu-jitsu back that up.  It makes working here special.