Little Mac is a champion, through-and-through. His indomitable spirit and willpower help him fight his way through the toughest opponents. Champions, and people who become champions, typically think differently than most. Believe it or not, this mindset is something that you can learn, and practice. A lot of sites post random inspirational quotes that people love to repost and fawn over, without real examination. Let’s take a look at quotes from a few champions, break down what they actually mean, and use them build our own champion mindset.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
Ali is one of the greatest boxers of all time. Some would even call him the greatest boxer of all time. His skills were legendary, and his name has become synonymous with the sport of boxing itself. Do you think he was born that way, though? Were his boxing skills a gift of genetics and good parentage? Absolutely not.
Take a look at any champion in any sport, and you’ll see one constant throughout: hard work. Every single one of works their ass off, both in and out of the ring. You could argue that genetics may give them a jumping off point, but no one becomes the best without the requisite hard work put in outside their “ring” every single day. I put ring in quotations there because it applies to everything, both in and out of boxing. Maybe your ring is a cubicle, or a classroom, or a field, or a dojo.
Any time you’re trying to be the best at something, you have to work at it. Hard work is the only way you’re going to get there, and you need to put that work in every single day if you want to be the best.
You have to be good enough to be the best in the world on your worst day and win every match twice. Because you are not always going to have the best day, and they’re not always going to give it to you the first time.
-Ronda Rousey (technically Ronda Rousey’s mom…)
While not a boxer, Ronda is a champion in every right anyway, and I loved this quote so much I had to include it. Here’s the deal: everyone has bad days. Champions, non-champions, ordinary folks, heroes, villains. Everyone. Bad days happen. You’re not always going to kill it in the gym, or nail every presentation in the office. The difference between a bad day in the gym, and a bad day in the ring, is the results. If you have a bad day in the gym, it’s okay, but if you have a bad day when you’re making a presentation to the board, it’s a much bigger issue. So how do you prepare for that?
Work harder when you’re not being tested. This goes perfectly with the quote above. You want to work so hard at what you’re trying to be the best at when you’re not being tested, that when you are tested, even your bad day is still better than everyone else’s best day. You get there by working harder and smarter in your “off” time than they do. Again, hard work, every day, wins the day.
Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.
Mike Tyson, “the most dangerous man on the planet,” is famous for this one. He was, of course, speaking to his opponents and their plans when he said it, but we can apply it to ourselves as well. In life, you’re going to get punched in the face, metaphorically at least, possibly physically, too. Remember what we were talking about above with “bad days?” Life is really good at giving you bad days. It sucks, but it’s true. Frequently things that you weren’t expecting come flying out of left field and hit you right in the teeth.
It’s all well and good to have plans and ideas and goals, but frequently those things fall apart when you encounter the first bit of serious resistance. It’s not a character flaw, nor does it make you weak, it just happens, right? We’re only human. So how do we fix this? Well, the solution is to plan for the plan to fail.
No, seriously, when you’re training or working towards something, assume things will not always go according to plan. Assume you’ll run into issues. When I teach self defense in my dojo, I always tell people assume the other person is bigger, stronger, and more skilled than you are. That’s your starting point. Figure out how to gain the upper hand.
In life, this can include things like setting up an “emergency funds” bank account. Have enough food and water in your house to be able to cover yourself for a few days if you get snowed in. Make a plan, but make a backup plan to go with it, and then a contingency plan to go with that. Assume that life is going to punch you in the face. What makes you a champion is how you react when that happens, and how prepared you are to adjust and shift your plans when the time comes.
The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.
Cus D’Amato isn’t a champion, he’s a trainer of champions (among them, Mike Tyson.) You’re never going to get where you need to go if you can’t handle your fears along the way. You’ll never reach your goals unless you stop being afraid of what you need to do to reach them. People try to be fearless, to avoid or escape their fear. This is counterproductive. Fear is natural. Fear is normal. Fear is a biological response to perceived threats.
Trying to make fear go away is useless, it doesn’t just “disappear.” The only way to deal with your fear is to come to grips with it. You need to face it, to examine it, and understand it. Once you’ve identified it, you gain the ability to use it how you see fit. Use you fear, let it drive and motivate you, let others see it and be afraid. But don’t try to escape it, or it will always be with you.
The champion strives towards greater things, even in the face of fear, and danger. The champion lives boldly. The champion changes the world, just by being in it. The champion is awesome.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace