So often in life, winning is about rising above the competition. Few knew this reality better than the late great Muhammad Ali. His actions provide some useful lessons to anyone who wants to get out and win. Here are six important ones.
1. Train Your Mind
Ali didn’t just train his body in the gym, although that was clearly important. He did much more. He trained his mind. Indeed, that is often the only difference between a winner and the runner-up. The person with the mind training always has an advantage over the one without.
Many people in business don’t recognize this. Technical skills, like jabbing in the case of Ali, or analyzing companies in the case of bankers, go only so far. What distinguishes the truly successful is mental toughness, and the ways in which they use their minds to win.What distinguishes the truly successful is mental toughness Click To Tweet
2. Use Your Environment
It’s not hard to see how training in the boxing gym from an early age will quickly develop mental strength. The regimen involves getting hit repeatedly by an opponent, and yet still coming back for more, again and again and again. That alone takes mental strength; something conditioned on Ali by his environment.
Consider your work, and ask yourself, “How can I use the stresses of my environment to build mental toughness?” Got a tough boss? Use him or her to harden you up. Face a lot of on the job stress? Take time each night after you get home from work and mentally prepare your mind to deal with the obstacles you think you will face tomorrow. You don’t have to get hit in the head every day to get mentally strong!You don't have to get hit in the head every day to get mentally strong! Click To Tweet
3. See Yourself as Invincible
Famously, Ali said, “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” Is this the reason he is still lauded as the best ever pugilist?
Ali trained himself to believe that winning was inevitable, a sure thing, a forgone conclusion. There is nothing harder to defeat than a person who believes that they are invincible.There is nothing harder to defeat than a person who believes that they are invincible. Click To Tweet
When your opponent doesn’t just think he can win, but knows it, he will keep going until the job is done. That was Ali.
What would you do if you knew you were going to succeed, that success was inevitable? Probably a lot more than most.
4. Exploit Your Opponent’s Weak Minds
More than just going on knowing he’d win, Ali also waged psychological warfare on his opponents. He’d tell them again and again how he was going to destroy them in the ring.
His combined exuberance and eloquence was sure to raise nagging doubts in the mind of an opponent. That wasn’t just showmanship on Ali’s part, it was part of the strategy. Those boasts were an artillery barrage on the psyche of his opponents, before Ali would even step into the ring. By the time Ali arrived, the softening up job was already half done.
I’m certainly not advocating that you taunt your colleagues or competitors, but do consider, “How can I use my superior mental strength to take control of a situation?How can you use your superior mental strength to take control of a situation? Click To Tweet
5. Use Your Opponent’s Strength Against Them
Ali wasn’t the largest heavyweight boxer in the field. He faced men who were much bigger and stronger than he was.
What did he do? He used their strength against them. Remember his match against George Foreman? Ali simply allowed Foreman to keep swinging and wearing himself out. Sure, that meant Ali had to take a few hits to the body, but when the exhaustion slowed Foreman to a crawl, Ali finished him off.
Again, in this business world, I’m not suggesting that you let your opponents keep swinging at you without fighting back, but consider how this idea applies to say negotiation. One strategy is to fatigue your opponent by throwing up roadblocks to wear him down so you get what you want!Fatigue your opponent by throwing up roadblocks to wear him down so you get what you want! Click To Tweet
6. Have the Will to See it Through
Ali’s inner strength allowed him to take on the U. S. draft board and refuse to go fight in Vietnam. Others dodged the draft, or fled. He did not. He simply came out and took whatever was coming at him, staying true to himself and his beliefs. He paid a price for that, but I don’t think he ever doubted that what he was doing was right.Ali once said, “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”To build mental strength takes time, effort, and most of all, will. Click To Tweet
To build mental strength takes time, effort, and most of all, will. You can’t expect to hit the gym once and build a rock solid body. You can’t expect to think tough once a year and build mental strength. Practice this in everything you do; make mental toughness not something you do, but a part of who you are.Make mental toughness not something you do, but a part of who you are. Click To Tweet
Geoff Blades is the author of the new book, The Trump Presidential Playbook. A former investment banker at Goldman Sachs and investor at the Carlyle Group, Geoff Blades is an advisor to CEOs and other leaders on all topics related to winning and getting what they want. Connect with him on Twitter @geoffblades.