The Brazilian chef Alex Atala, a black-belt under Demian Maia who first donned the gi in the 1990s, once learned from Master Rickson Gracie a simple lesson, summed up in one sentence, that changed his professional life forever.
Atala remembered the episode in an interview he gave Fabio Gurgel, and pointed out that the lesson kicked off a revolution in his career.
“Before I won recognition and prizes, I spent ten years just eating, sleeping and cooking, without doing any single other solitary thing in São Paulo,” said Atala, 52. “I found myself working amid chaos; it was torture, until I finally understood a brilliant line by Rickson, which I’ve kept with myself forever: ‘The secret is to find comfort in discomfort.’”
In that very well-synthesized sentence, Atala realized what he was getting wrong:
“Right there, I learned that I was looking at many of my daily difficulties the wrong way. After all, life, work, daily routine will bring us discomfort all the time, and fighting this fact amounts to burning energy, because it’s impossible to change it. To live is to manage problems. From that day on, I started finding comfort in discomfort, and I was happier.”