Lessons Learned In The Boxing Ring

Monday, August 7, 2017 - by Clint Powell

Recently I had the privilege of traveling to Independence, Mo. with the YMCA/YCAP boxing team to the Ringside International Boxing Tournament. It was a great trip. To watch people of all ages and from all backgrounds come together and give 100 percent in competition was worth the trip.

Being who I am and my brain being wired as it is…I heard things and saw things that I thought would help us business types as we move about our day, our world and our life. So with that being said I want to share four things I took away from my experience:  

1. Honest feedback is crucial – 

I was fortunate enough to hear some of the people who work the corners give feedback between rounds. It was awesome. Why? Because it was honest – it was in real time – it was from a perspective other than the one who was distracted by the punches being thrown. There was not a lot of back and forth – not a lot of discussion between trainers and fighters – there were not a lot of hurt feelings. The fighter listened and if they were smart they tried to make adjustments. I also noticed that the trainers usually had more experience than the fighters…those who had been there and done that or those who had trained others to go there and do that. The fighter knew that the trainer had his/her best interest at heart so for the most part there was 100 percent buy in. Wow!

What a great truth for us – do we surround ourselves with those we trust to provide us with honest, real time feedback? Do we encourage it? Do we take the time from the day-to-day fight to get away and let others give us their feedback on how they see the fight going? How else do we grow? How else do we learn?  

2. Spar with those better than you –  

This was one of those ‘yes’ moments. I heard a trainer tell a fighter after a fight – ‘you have got to start sparring and working out with fighters who are better than you.’ Then he turned around and said – ‘and by the way that goes for life. If you think you are the best at something in the group you hang out with – go find a different group….doesn’t matter if you’re an electrician, sales person, or whatever. Be around others who are better than you.’  Yes!  That was from trainer to a young kid and I just smiled.

I also thought how true that is for us.  How often we forget to surround ourselves with people who are better at something than we are – who is driven for crazy goals – who make us better at not only our jobs, but as humans.  

3. Don’t assume –  

I saw a lot of fighters who I thought would get walked over – who were beasts. I also saw match ups that at first glance I thought the ‘tough’ looking person was going to destroy their competition. only to see the opposite.

I started thinking how true that is in life. How many times do we worry about problems, conversations, situations, and changes and we build them up to be giants only to find out they were not that bad. We waste energy on stressing out over what they ‘look’ like instead of making sure we are the best we can be and realizing that we have all gotten through the ‘tough’ fights of life. Never assume things or people will be something they are not – let them prove it. Save your energy and spend it on the fight.  

4. Be willing – 

This is the one thing I loved and I think I admire about boxing and all competitors, whether they are in business, sports, or in life….be willing to take the punches. It is way easy to sit and watch and tell folks what you would do or how you would do it differently. That opinion means something if you have been in the ring, but if you haven’t then it simply is criticism. I admire those who are willing to stand inside the ring of competition and take the risks. To train to be the best…to have the courage to get knocked out or lose…who are humble enough to listen to honest feedback…who are smart enough to make the adjustments…those who have the ability to say ‘I don’t know if I am going to win or not…let’s go find out.’ That is a huge part of life.

Having the courage to make the hard decision, to chase your dreams, to listen to those who are directing you, to take the blows of life and business and fire back, to win or lose and go back to the gym the next week. We should all admire that in others and in ourselves. The credit goes to those who are in the arena.