There is a strong parallel between boxing skills and those skills employed by successful business leaders every day. My clients, men and women, come from all walks of life. Each week I have company directors, tradespeople, business executives, contractors and laborers working together in our boxing skills and fitness programs. Interestingly but not surprising, all these people display the qualities that leaders require to be successful
Boxing is about being tested, stepping out of your comfort zone to see if you really have what it takes. It is a deep look inside yourself. If business leaders were not prepared to step outside of their comfort zone they will rarely be successful. When clients come to the gym and the journey begins they are amazed by the detail and skill required when learning the sweet science. Importantly people are impressed with how safe boxing is when conducted appropriately. They learn that it is not simply about pulling on a pair of gloves but more so about finesse, discipline, respect, humility, attrition and courage. Essential leadership skills.
As you learn to box, you rapidly come to understand that boxing requires decisions to be made quickly. Skills and fitness allow you to successfully maneuver the thought process required for the right outcome. Decisions are made in rapid time, under extreme pressure. The wrong decision has a consequence as is the case in business. The quality of learning here is about learning from the decision, right and wrong. How well the boxer can process and adapt to the current situation, and change the outcome of the decision to a more favourable one, regardless of the pressure being applied will determine the outcome of their success.
Now any employer or successful company will have endured tough times and been forced to make decisions, some will turn out to be good decisions and some may not. Tough decisions need to be made; you can run and hide to your heart’s content, but ultimately the decision will still be there waiting to be made. Not everything will be conducive to the direction you want to head in, it’s the ability to show faith in your processes of decision making to eventually turn things back into your favour.
Boxing is a team sport. A boxer operates with a head trainer, assistant trainer, and a conditioner. A boxer may be the only one occupying the ring, but inevitably they execute a plan set out by the team, made up of personnel outlined earlier. Similarly, an employee executing instruction and direction from the senior partners of a firm.
This is particularly noticeable in training whereby the assistant trainer conducts pad work or mitt work, while the head trainer observes and offers feedback constantly making adjustments and alterations to technique. Everyone has a roll and subsequent responsibility in the team with each being as important as the other.
A successful business leader requires competent and enthusiastic workers supporting them where not one person’s role is of more importance than the other. For a successful team, everyone must be equal but reliant on good communication skills and understanding within the team environment, allowing culmination of the strengths of all individuals involved.
It is common knowledge that boxers are among some of the fittest athletes. I encourage you to think and take on board the following. You can only get so fit. Everyone gets tired right? What separates a boxer is the desire to keep pushing forward even when your deepest sense is to stop. The mind is where the battle is won and lost. If you can discard the negative thoughts telling you how tired you are, then inevitably your body will react accordingly and continue on. Training for boxing with fellow boxers lends itself to a sense of strength, the desire to achieve and never give up. Like all leaders there will be times when you are tired and greatly challenged. It’s desire that keeps you going.
Boxers are amongst some of the most creative people I have met, hence the term ‘a crafty boxer’. A quality trainer will understand the importance of teaching the fundamentals early, and once the foundation has become real, craftiness and external box thinking is vital to his or her progression. Be creative and do something different that maybe nobody else is doing.
For those who would like an example and are not familiar with boxing please take the time to jump onto the Google machine and explore Emanuel Augustus “The Drunken Master”. Now that bloke was an incredibility gifted boxer, but what divided him from others, was his creative thinking. Not everyone possesses the ability to execute in the way the great Drunken Master did, but everyone has a creative strain in their make-up to set traps, and counter on the back of that, in their own unique way. This is what makes boxing so beautiful.
Like business, there are so many different styles of boxing and everyone has their own unique trademark, some styles work for some and some don’t. Allowing your God given talents to shine through being unique, is a great pathway to success for boxers and leaders.
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook
As Employees have deadlines to meet and targets hit, boxers are no stranger to the constant battle of time constraints for preparation of competition. Boxers are so fine tuned applying themselves to tasks. Generally, a boxer may get an 8-week preparation though this may not always be the case. To prepare themselves for competition. There are several elements for them to consider to be fight fit. They will work on conditioning to last the distance, specific skills and techniques required and stick to strict nutrition programs so that they meet the agreed weight before competition commences.
Boxing is a skill, and skills can be taught. If you want efficient, successful, trainable, coachable employees then teach them the specific skill set required for your industry and your investment will be repaid in abundance. The leader like the trainer have the ability to take on someone with no specific skill set, embrace them within the organization, and turn them into successful and important players in the company. It takes a good leader to mentor develop and encourage people even in adversity. Like the boxing trainer, the business leader can get their people through the tough times and instil belief in them to eventually achieve great things. Like boxing these skills and qualities do not always come naturally, and are sometimes not evident in some prospects sitting in your waiting room waiting for that interview; they come with education, training, persistence, trust and respect.
Remember this you don’t have to jump in the ring to gain the benefits of boxing. Even with the training alone you will learn a great new skill, improve your right/left brain thinking improving your creativity and get fitter than you have ever been. The majority of people who box or simply learn to box will develop all the great attributes of leaders. Respect, humility, endurance, decision making, team work, creativity and dedication.