Spirit of a Champion


In my last article I wrote about the power of passion and the difference this one ingredient makes in the quality of people's lives, I hope you read it!

This week I got home from Germany late and watched another brilliant Sport's Life Stories documentary on ITV4 and decided I had to write another article on it, it was that good. I really recommend you watch them.

This one was on an English World Champion Boxer called Carl Froch.

I have worked with several boxers now and I have the utmost respect for the level of dedication it requires, the bravery, the intensity of how hard they train and the courage it takes. It has to be one of the most brutal sports there is.

The skill level of professional boxers is highly impressive. The speed, the movement, the coordination and how quick their reflexes are.

When I was watching the documentary this week on Carl Froch, it wasn't his skill level that most impressed me the most. In fact there was probably more skilled boxers that he left in his wake on the way to some of his world titles.

It was his courage that stood out for me.

COURAGE. Not a word that you hear that often in the world of business. You hear passion like I talked about recently, you hear discipline, dedication, hard work but you don't hear the word courage all that often.

What is the definition of courage?

Wikipedia's (what would we do without it?!) definition was the best in my opinion:

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.

This is exactly what Carl Froch did.

As an amateur he was terribly nervous. He actually quit boxing at one point because his fear of fighting was so strong. Before his fights his fear was so crippling, he said he wasn't sure whether he would go through with the fight or leg it out the emergency exit.

That is fear.

I felt that once at the thought of public speaking. I know the feeling!

His career began to take a turn when he got himself a new coach. This coach obviously helped him to channel this fear, to turn it into POWER, to use the force of his fear as energy, determination, spirit in becoming a world champion. I am reading between the lines here a bit but I got the impression his coach taught him the power of self belief and that fear was not a lack of self belief, but facing that fear builds self belief.

In order to do that you need to have courage. And Carl Froch had it by the bucket LOAD.

It got me thinking about success in other areas too, especially business.

The courage it takes to face your fears. To overcome that fear of a presentation, or an interview, or to work really hard for something, or to continue knocking on doors after continuous rejection, or making calls with the same level of enthusiasm as the day you came out of the training room full of eagerness!

Mike Tyson once said "everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth".

How do you respond when you get punched in the mouth?

How about your team?

Courage is getting up and fighting. Courage is refusing to accept defeat. Courage inspires persistence, hard work, sacrifice and many other qualities needed to succeed.

But if you don't get up after the first knock down, how do you expect to win? Courage will get you up. Courage will keep you getting up.

In the documentary Carl talked about the first time he got knocked down. it was a world title fight! What a time to be tested by being knocked to the floor. He had not experienced it before so now his courage, his spirit really was being tested.

It made him stronger. It inspired him.

With spirit like that, how can you fail? You can't is the answer, no matter what the result. It is the getting up, the refusal to quit, the extra strength gained from a setback that sets champions apart.

Look in every sport and you will find the same. Look at every successful business person and you will find the same.

Life is full of punches, rejections, knock downs, setbacks. There are many things to be afraid of.

What matters isn't so much how much you are afraid, but more so what you do in the face of fear.

As Carl said, its fight or flight. He chose to fight and he became four time world champion.

An interesting part of the documentary was when he talked about some other fighters who 'ducked' (avoided) certain fights. There certainly is a history of that in boxing. Carl never ducked a fight. He was willing to fight anyone, he wanted to prove himself against the best. He would rather lose a fight knowing he tested himself against the very best. Not every boxer can say that.

I watch a lot of sport and the best always rise to the occasion the most when their backs are against the wall.

But on the flip side, which I think is equally important, the very best rise to the occasion on every single occasion.

You see teams winning huge games and then losing small games all the time. I think this comes down to personal standards. It isn't so much about the opposition, it is about your own standards and expectations.

I heard a brilliant story recently from a client of mine about Gary Neville. Gary was talking about the standards at Manchester United and how that manifested itself in training. He said that every training session was as competitive as their toughest games. People would not hold back. He said when the United players joined up with the England squad, other players would notice it and not quite understand why they were flying into tackles that could potentially injure them.

That takes courage to train with that level of intensity every day knowing you could be injured just like in a game. But that mentality is what made Manchester United successful.

Regardless of your pursuit, your goals, your vision of your ideal life, whatever it is I promise you along the way there are going to be setbacks and challenges and adversity and the more ambitious your goals are, the more courage you are going to need.

So how do you get more of it?

Two simple ways you can build it up are to start surrounding yourself with more people that have it and to start facing the things that scare you like Carl Froch did. Who knows, you might just become a world champion too.

Thanks for reading. Until next time...

#motivationalspeaker #sportsleadership #sportspsychologist #sportspsychology #manchester #london #performancecoach #leadership

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