He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. That quote from Muhammad Ali still resonates with me all of these years. When I first heard that quote, it was an awakening for me. I woke up at 3:20 a.m. ET this morning for no reason. Yet when I checked my phone and saw the alerts, I was saddened to learn “the greatest” had passed on. It was like I was supposed to wake up and know that he passed on. I couldn’t go to sleep for several reasons, but his death kept me awake and pondering about life.
I never used to take risks, and would always play life safe. Even though I never met Muhammad Ali in person, and I wasn’t born until after his prime, I felt that every time I saw an interview with him or he was on TV, he was teaching me a lesson in life. He was an inspiring, polarizing, and sometimes controversial person. Many people saw him as an arrogant person. I saw him as someone who could teach us how to be real and authentic, as that is what he was, nothing more, nothing less. People get caught up in pointing out a person’s flaws and all of the failures they had in life. Mohammad Ali had many flaws, and failed many times, but for every flaw and failure, he made up for them ten fold in his success. Here are three things I Muhammad Ali has taught us:
#1) Extreme Confidence And Belief In Oneself
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”
Many of us sell ourselves short every day. We undersell who we are and our worth. We do not project the confidence needed to succeed. Muhammad Ali had all the confidence in the world to succeed. Early in his career, Ali was known for his charm and personality. Then in February 1964, Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
Many people said he had immense beliefs and convictions in himself. That is what is missing from so many people today. We lack the confidence to make it through a simple work meeting or challenging conversation with someone. Ali’s confidence was mistaken for arrogance. If you look closely at his thoughts and actions, he was teaching us to have that extreme confidence needed to succeed in life. He had an immense self-belief.
So many of us just show up anymore. We show up to our jobs, meetings, with little or no preparation. Muhammad Ali believed that his fights were not won in the boxing ring, but in the training and preparation. Ali once said, “I hated every minute of training, don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion.” His preparation was legendary.
Our outcomes are determined by the preparation and hard work we put in. Whether you are leading your organization, an entrepreneur, or just a manager, your success has been predetermined by the amount of preparation you put in. You have to put in the hard work each and every day. You cannot take a shortcut to success. You have to go the distance with preparation.
#3) Visualize Success And The Future
Many athletes are known for their visualization of winning the game or tournament. Muhammad Ali always saw his success and winning. Many people took his talk as arrogance, but if you look closely, he was seeing himself winning, and seeing the future right in front of him. Just take a quote he posted on Twitter this past April. “How tall are you? So I can know in advance how far to step back when you fall down.” That is genius. That is Ali in his greatness. The extreme confidence, preparation, and visualization wrapped up together.
Many of us don’t see past today’s events. We get to Sunday night and say here comes the Monday blues. Wednesday becomes hump day, and we cannot wait until its Friday! Ali never thought like that. He always said, “don’t count the days, make the days count.” We have to take time to visualize our success and see it through. Only then can we achieve massive success. Imagine if on Sunday night you visualized a successful week. What would that do for you? It would change your life, and you would achieve great successes.
Even with advance stages of Parkinson’s, Muhammad Ali never gave up. He never let his illness stop him from being himself and succeeding. I remember the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the opening ceremony where Muhammad Ali lit the flame. That was awe inspiring. He never let Parkinson’s get the best of him. “Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” He knew how to win. It has been said by his daughter that when his organs began failing, his heart continued to beat for another 30 minutes. That is the mark of a true champion. Keep on pushing past the final bell.