Win or Learn

Gregor and Me: A Trainer's Journey
by John Kavanagh | 240 pages

John Kavanagh is one of the best MMA coaches in the world. He runs Straight Blast Gym Ireland and has been coaching the superstar Conor McGregor—one of the best MMA fighters in history—since the day he got into MMA and arrived in his gym. John was also Ireland’s first MMA fighter and its first Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Plus, he’s a down-to-earth, humble guy. This is his inspiring story about his journey to the top and it reads like a case study in the growth mindset and grit. Big Ideas we cover include the fact that “Win or Learn” is literally THE PERFECT mantra for the growth mindset, Conor's path from welfare to $100m, the goldfish-bowl effect (need to hop out of your bowl?), standing up and falling down (and then getting back up!), loving what we do as the secret sauce to awesome (science says!!) and remembering that there's no easy route to any destination worth getting to.


“The aftermath was challenging, but in tough times you must persevere. It was a difficult period, but I never once considered throwing in the towel. Soon we were all back in the gym preparing for the next batch of fights. If there’s a perception that the growth of MMA in Ireland followed a constant upward curve, I can assure you that certainly wasn’t the case. There were almost as many downs as ups, particularly early on, and that was one of several setbacks. However, if you’re on the road to success, you cannot reach that destination without encountering some failures along the way. The people who matter, they don’t care whether you’ve won or lost. You lose on a Saturday night and start fresh on Sunday morning. That’s why I’ve never gotten carried away with celebrating when we win, just like I don’t get too down in the dumps after defeats. Winning and losing are two sides of the same coin. Win or learn is the SBG [Straight Blast Gym] mantra, not win or lose.”

~ John Kavanagh from Win or Learn

For those of you who are not into mixed martial arts (or MMA), John Kavanagh is one of the best MMA coaches in the world. He runs Straight Blast Gym Ireland and has been coaching the superstar Conor McGregor—one of the best MMA fighters in history—since the day he got into MMA and arrived in his gym.

John was also Ireland’s first MMA fighter and its first Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Plus, he’s a down-to-earth, humble guy. This is his inspiring story about his journey to the top and it reads like a case study in the growth mindset and grit.

I mean… The moment I saw the title I wanted to read it and create a Note on it just so we could talk about the title itself! :)

Win or Learn? <- That’s literally THE PERFECT mantra for the growth mindset. (Seriously.)

Win. Or learn. There’s no such thing as “losing” when your ultimate goal is growth. (More on that in the first Idea.)

I’ve always loved sports books (check out our entire collection of Notes) as sports provide such a great, focused context for excellence in action. I got into MMA a bit more after another one of the leading MMA coaches (Firas Zahabi) became an Optimizer and sent us a nice note letting us know how much he loves PhilosophersNotes. (Thanks, Firas!)

Firas coaches another all-time great fighter: Georges St-Pierre. Check out our Notes on his book The Way of the Fight. We also have Notes on Ronda Rousey’s book My Fight Your Fight.

And, as I read this book, I was reminded of another recent Note on a book by one of the world’s best CrossFit coaches: Ben Bergeron—his Chasing Excellence is awesome. Plus we recently covered the great mental toughness coach Bob Rotella’s book How Champions Think.

The book is packed with inspiring stories and Big Ideas. I’m excited to share some of my favorites we can apply to our lives TODAY so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

John Kavanagh

Coaches BJJ and Fight Team – 2nd Degree Black Belt Instructor.