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17 Quotes from UFC Champ Georges St-Pierre on Mental Toughness, Excellence, and Staying Present

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy 2 years ago in quotes
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The UFC legend offers up plenty of lessons in his book, The Way of the Fight. Here are some of the highlights.

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Georges St-Pierre is one of the all-time legends in the world of mixed martial arts. He is one of a handful of UFC fighters who has held titles in two divisions.

He successfully defended his welterweight belt nine consecutive times over a span of over three years, at the time a record. In 2017, after a four year sabbatical from the sport, he came back and beat Michael Bisping at UFC 217, adding the Middleweight title to his collection.

His book, "The Way of the Fight," outlines St-Pierre's journey from shy, bullied kid to one of the most popular and successful MMA fighters in history.

Below are a collection of quotes from his book, which provides sage advice and direction for anyone looking to pursue excellence in their lives, regardless of whether it is in the octagon or not.

On the value of "little wins"...

“It’s going to feel good to reach that first plateau, and what happens is that the second plateau is even easier to reach, and more gratifying. Performance improves. Results are tangible. Your mind and your body feel better and are finally working in harmony. In other words, when you prepare a list of improvements and you make them small and achievable, you won’t just stick to them, you’ll increase the chances that you’ll keep going forward.”

“When you pay attention to detail, the big picture will take care of itself.”

On the stagnation that happens often to winners...

“Very often, we see leaders lose sight of how they got to where they are: by being and thinking differently from the competition. They make it to first place, and then their thinking changes from seeking innovation to seeking the status quo. They think, I made it to first place, so now I must not change a thing. But change is what got them to the top in the first place! This is because they’re focused on the positive result rather than on the process of success.” (p 63)

“You can’t simply enter [the octagon] and beat someone on instinct; you can’t go in with the same approach over and over because it worked last time.”

On the value of doing nothing...

“Sometimes you don’t need to decide right then there what’s going to happen. You need to understand that the world keeps turning and nobody needs to rush into any harsh decision or situation. It’s okay to do nothing sometimes.”

“The goal is to reflect calmly about all the facts, and to make a decision when the timing is right. That timing is very individual.”

On staying present when under pressure...

“If you find ways of staying in the present, fear can only help you.”

“The first is just take a look around and remind yourself of where you are right now, and how everything is okay in this place. This doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns about the future—I knew, for example, that I’d need surgery at some point—but it wasn’t the key thing right at that moment. Right at that moment the key was to take a deep breath.”

“One of the most important things I do in between rounds is breathe deeply and slowly so I can relax.”

On managing fear...

“Fear is the genesis of most of the good things that have occurred in my life. Fear is the beginning of every success I’ve lived.”

“Don’t get me wrong: fear can be a good thing, and there is no way you can eliminate it from your life. In fact, eliminating fear from your life is a lie, or it’s a mental illness. That’s it, nothing more. Anyone who says they don’t feel fear is a liar. Guys who say they don’t feel fear are full of shit or they’re plain crazy. Major denial issues.”

“It takes fear to make a person courageous. And I like that, because courage says something about you. The result is that, after a while, you get practice at being courageous. You understand how to move forward against fear, how to react in certain situations. You just get better. It doesn’t mean you stop feeling fear—that would be careless—but it means you have earned the right to feel confidence in the battle against fear.”

“Fear freezes your actions because it takes you into the world of what-if, and that’s the worst place anybody can be. This is when you start doing stupid things like predicting the future, or thinking your career as a mixed martial arts world champion is going to end suddenly. Forecasting doom and gloom is not only useless, but detrimental. It’s giving away all your power to fear and letting it take over your life.”

On the fear of failure...

“Mediocrity is not about failing, and it’s the opposite of doing. Mediocrity, in other words, is about not trying.”

“I’ve come up with my own cure for a closed mind: try it once, and see.”

On showing up when it's hard...

"You don't get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don't want to go, but you go anyway."

"The real test is this one: When you're alone in a room, when you're in a private place and nobody else can see you, what do you choose to do? Eat well, or eat poorly? Exercise, or watch television? Practice something, or do nothing? The best version of the truth appears to you and you alone, when nobody else can see. This is the test of discipline, and it's what makes the difference in your life. It's what regulates your own system and guides it. The individual alone comprehends it."

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About the author

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer and author of "Conquer the Pool," a mental training workbook for competitive swimmers. He writes about leadership and high-performance mindsets.

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