St-Pierre: Innovate or die
In the excerpt below from his book, The Way of the Fight, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre discusses the importance of constantly getting better and being an innovator, an attribute he contributes much of his success to:
That’s why “innovate or die” rings true for me. My whole life, I’ve been fascinated by the natural world and how animals survive or become extinct. The study of dinosaurs is especially interesting because those creatures aren’t here anymore, and they were the biggest, fiercest living things on the planet. Meanwhile, rats and cockroaches survive.
How is that? A cockroach can’t defeat a dinosaur. But the cockroach is better at one thing, and it has ensured its survival through the ages: adaptation. One could adapt to the environment and the other one couldn’t.
Most people don’t realize this basic, fundamental and crucial thing, and it’s key for mixed martial arts–and all sports, in fact. Your opponent constantly changes too. In the mixed martial arts world you fight wrestlers, leg lockers, punchers. Every time you fight, your opponent doesn’t look anything like the previous opponent. Taking it a step further, if it’s the second time you fight an opponent, he often doesn’t look like the previous version.
I fight knockout artists, grapplers, kickers, wrestlers, punchers–the whole gamut. I have to keep adapting to new hostile environments because what happens in the octagon is ever-changing. This is ingrained in my mind, and I’ve adapted my training to accept and prepare for it. …
… I’ve learned that my innovative capacities seem to rise up when there’s a crisis, a conflict. Like losing my title, for example, or hurting my knee badly. Those situations told me I needed to continue my innovation to recapture my title, my place in martial arts. The way I see it, innovation is a discipline, not a lottery. It’s got nothing to do with luck, or even eureka moments, because those are unplanned, unscripted. For me, it comes from the combination of two elements within my control: hard work and open-mindedness.