Today I saw the sad news about the passing of the great legend that is Mohammad Ali at the age of 74. He will always be known as ‘the greatest’ and even though his sport was the brutal one of boxing, the lessons that we can draw from him are long and relevant to so many of us in whatever we do. Here are just 5 lessons that I have drawn from his time with us, all of which materialise from quotes from the great man himself:
Preparation is key
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ”Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
You do not only gain success when your dream is accomplished. Success happens right now on your path to fulfilling your dream. Your daily habits will determine how far you go. It is not about the “lights”, it is all about how you prepare for the “lights.” Are you preparing, practicing and putting in those ‘hard yards’ for when those “lights” shine on you? The price now to live the rest of your life as a champion, starts at the very beginning with hard work – you cannot ‘fast forward’ to success.
Desire, Dream, Visualize
“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.”
Do you have a burning desire to succeed? Desire is about thinking, living and breathing an inner burning passion to do something epic – no matter now big or small. Champions are driven to succeed; they have an inner picture of success and are determined to see that picture come to reality. Visualization is as important to sportspeople as it is to anyone else. Seeing something in your mind is something has a greater chance of becoming real. Champions never stop until their goal is achieved, they cannot stop, they are on a mission every second of their lives.
Remind yourself how great you are
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Nobody can beat, Mohammad Ali!”
Ali said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” So do not waste time waiting for someone to tell you how good you – tell yourself! The more you tell yourself the greater your confidence comes, and the stronger you are when times are difficult. Ali did this all the time, Ali said, “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.” He said, “I’m the greatest of all time.” He also said “It’s hard to be humble, when you are as great as I am.” Try saying that one a few times! I know humility is important, but go ahead and say that last statement a few more times and see how you feel. A strong inner belief is almost as important as the actions you take subsequently.
Embrace Risk and Change
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
For sure, if you are not prepared to take the odd risk every now and then, you will lead a life that will haunt you with “I could of, I should of, and I would of”. Now many times have you said that out loud or silently to yourself? By taking a risk you embrace change because you are entering a situation whereby you are not entirely sure what will happen. One thing for sure, is that you will make progress through the change process. Start now and love changing the way you do those things you do habitually. It will be worth a little something 'extra' every second in your life from now on.
Imagination allows us to fly
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
A bird that does not use its wings will have a limited life – look at the Dodo. We humans have wings as well, and it is our imagination. We all have the ability to leave the old, staid and mundane behind and soar like the majestic eagle in the sky. Think about soaring into a world of possibilities, a world without limits. I often use this idea in my leadership courses, when I invite teams to design a new game for the family. The rules are easy – they must not copy games that have already have been invented; they have all the materials and unlimited resources that they need. With those factors and some imagination we always succeed in coming up with fantastic ideas. Imagine what you can do if you really put your mind and heart to anything – brilliant results await those with the courage to try.
So the 3 time heavyweight champion of the world has left us with many lessons to ponder on. Above all, he believed in what he said and as a result, captured us with wonder and awe over the past 50 years since he first came to prominence in the 1960’s. The legacy he left will remain with us for many years to come. What legacy will you leave?