It’s amazing what you learn about yourself when you lace up your gloves, step in between the ropes and into the ring. It’s simultaneously the most invigorating and the most helpless you’ll ever feel. You’ve got your coach in the corner, but during the three minutes in between those bells, the only thing you have to rely on is your heart and your preparedness. How to be prepared is one of the many things that boxing has taught me about business and life. Here are a few more things the “sweet science” has bestowed upon me:
- You get back exactly what you put in. Boxing is a game of conditioning. The guy who puts in the most work at the gym before the fight is the guy who usually comes out on top. Just like with business or life, the more time and heart you invest on the front end, the more likely you are to succeed when it counts.
- It’s never too late to switch stances and go southpaw. Sometimes in the ring, your game plan doesn’t work. Your opponent is too keen on your style and seemingly knows your every move before you do! When this happens, you have to switch it up and go southpaw. Surprise your opponent by coming from a different angle to throw off their game plan. If your business plan isn’t working, maybe it’s time you switched things up and attacked your problems from a different angle.
- You will most certainly be knocked down, but you ALWAYS have the opportunity to get back up. Being knocked down is a part of life as much as it is about boxing. IT IS INEVITABLE! But rest assured, the only thing that can keep you down is you. If you fall, get back up. If you fail, just try again. The best can get knocked down, but the greats know how to get back up.
- No matter how unmatched you are, you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. There’s a saying for every underdog in boxing: “They’ve got a puncher’s chance!” This means if you’ve got two hands to throw punches, you still have an opportunity to win. In life, and in business, sometimes your opponent is a heavyweight beast… but you’ve still got two hands, no matter how small you may feel.
- Sometimes it’s not about winning, but simply going the distance. Sometimes losing the fight isn’t really a loss. Maybe winning is standing toe to toe with a bigger, stronger challenger, taking everything he’s got and not backing down. In business we fail, but when we try our absolute hardest to succeed, we learn a lot about ourselves in the process. We learn that we can take whatever life throws at us.
- When you’re backed into a corner, keep your cool, breathe and roll out. One of the first things a coach will tell you, and coincidentally one of the hardest things to master, is to stay calm and relax. This isn’t more necessary than when your hands are up, you’re stuck in a corner and you’re taking shots. Taking punches is exhausting, but what’s more exhausting is taking them while you’re all tensed up. If you’re taking shot after shot, remember to breathe, stay calm and simply roll out to your right beneath the punches. There you can reset and take control. When things become overwhelming in life, just take a deep breath and roll out.
- Finish strong. Just like in distance running, you want negative splits, where your first mile is your slowest and you gradually increase speed. Your first round should be solid, but you need to consistently increase the intensity as the fight progresses so that your last round is the strongest. The saying goes, “Leave it all in the ring,” and that’s exactly what you need to do. Even if you loose, there is pride in knowing you did everything thing you could at the highest level possible. If you give your best, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s amazing how the skills I learned in the ring are applicable to almost any facet of life, especially in business. Do you participate in another sport or activity where the same principles are applicable? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe your passion can inspire someone else!
Just for a little more added inspiration, here’s one of my favorite clips from the Rocky saga… Enjoy!