Each week in January I’ll be sharing the story of a person who inspired me to help start the year off right, to give some added motivation and tips as we all start building and working toward our 2019 goals. I started last week with an amazing story of overcoming the odds, which you will find here. And below is a new story for this our second week.
On the day that these events occurred I wasn’t in the best of moods. What was supposed to have been a simple journey took almost triple the time due to rail disruption. I was grouchy and hungry and just wanted to get where I was supposed to be. Finally, there was only one thing standing between me and my destination – a 20 minute taxi ride. As I opened the app and hit the button to book my taxi, I’ll admit, I was hoping and praying for a quiet driver for a peaceful ride in blissful silence. But instead there was Elias.
He was a ray of sunshine. Even perkier than Dana The Trainer on a good day, full of infectious enthusiasm and good spirits. In an instant, my bad mood was gone. Conversation was flowing nicely when I asked a simple question, “Do you like your job?”. His smile got even brighter, even though I didn’t think that was possible at the time. Then he said, “I love my job. I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion and I train and coach champions.”
Elias immigrated to the UK from Brazil. When he arrived he knew absolutely no English. He went to classes but he credits the speed at which he learned, to his work as a taxi driver, through having conversations with his passengers. In his downtime he would go to the gym and practice Jiu Jitsu. At the start it was just for fun, fitness and to bring some of his native Brazilian pursuits to his life in the UK, but then one day the owner of the gym told him he could and should start competing in the sport. So he started training harder and entering competitions where he kept winning, moving from amateur to professional levels of competition.
As part of his training regime he would watch other enthusiasts in the gym – and started coaching and giving tips for improvement. Pretty soon people started coming to him for help and advice, which led to the next step. He started working as an instructor, trainer and coach for the gym. And he loves it. It’s his passion, part of the reason why he gets up in the morning, part of the reason why he’s so happy. I got goosebumps while he described to me the best part of his job, working with kids, inspiring them with confidence and helping them be champions. It was almost as if his students’ accomplishments in the sport were bigger than his own.
I’m going to confess that despite my eagerness to get to my destination, when I got there it took me another 10 mins to get out of the car. That’s because we were busy on Instagram so he could show me his own championship belts, the gym, his students and even his wife and daughter who he has trained to competition standard. Elias’ goal is to be able to make Jiu Jitsu his full time career, and he is working toward that. I wish him the best of everything in 2019.
It’s been months since this taxi ride, but I still find myself thinking about Elias from time to time. He inspired me with his levels of energy, sheer positivity and how he felt about his work. Look again at the language he used to tell me who he was and describe his passions, “I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion and I train and coach champions.” I truly believe that words are powerful and the ways we express things, and the words we choose matter.
That brings me to this week’s questions to get us reflecting and focusing on our own 2019 goals. And if you have a positive taxi story that you’d like to share please feel free to do it in the comments.