Boxing made me realize something awesome about entrepreneurship and about myself as an entrepreneur.
I think the best analogy that one could associate with work, would be that of sport.
As a boxing fan, I have always been fascinated by the sport. I used to be glued to the TV if there was a big fight. I grew up watching Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis dominating the world with their skill and aggression.
That fascination led me to try it out at spaced out intervals in life.
My first stint with the sport.
When I was a kid, still in college, I had my first brush with the sport. I joined a boxing club where the coach was tough as nails. His agenda was first to improve fitness levels after which you would even get a chance to punch a bag.
I played along for a bit, but when you are in college with all the friends and parties, etc, I soon lost interest in that strategy (not the sport) and I dropped off.
My second stint with the sport.
This time the coach was actually 4 years younger than me. Obviously looking at me his agenda was also to help me get fit again. There is a difference between being healthy and fit as against having six-pack abs. Obviously six-pack abs are great to have but you can be fit even without them.
I am still overweight, but boxing helped me stay healthy. It is about essentially doing more good things to offset your limitations if that makes any sense.
So in it for a few months, there is this amateur tournament happened. And my coach didn’t have anyone for the Super Heavyweight category and he approached me and I said yes.
On the day of the tournament, I was super confident, I wanted a knockout. (Super Heavyweight here is a category where if you are above 95 kgs, you automatically qualify, then it doesn’t really matter if you weigh 95 kgs or 200 kgs. It does seem obnoxious, but it is true and has been since forever)
I got myself checked and then the judges announced the draws. I drew up against a guy who weighed in at 97kgs much lesser than me who was at 120.
I thought it is going to be a breeze. All those sparring sessions and conditioning had prepared me for it. Because there were no other contenders in the category, this match was for the medal.
That guy was FAST! He broke my nose which is why the ref stopped the fight.
It was evident to me, that I had made a huge mistake, I was overconfident, didn’t really think things through and was going for that one knockout punch which would put this guy down.
I had made the mistake I had been making all my life.
When I was trying to aim big, I was going for that one knockout punch which would help me win. I failed to realize that even when aiming big you need to take calculated steps that help you get there.
So anyway, I lost miserably. I was tired and had blood oozing out my nose, but I had an insane amount of adrenaline pumping through me. I had learned something.
I moved on and continued with the sport.
A few months after that, the coach had organized an inter-club sparring tournament where other boxers would come over and spar.
The visiting club was from a small town just outside the city and used to actively send boxers for State and National Level tournaments.
This time I didn’t volunteer, because, Heres how my opponent compared with me:
He was 150 kgs, muscular and the guy was 10 years younger to me along with being 8 inches taller to me. This was what he used to do day in and day out, he wanted to represent India at the Olympics and looked like a Bull who wanted to charge forward.
I was a city boy, who lived with high pollution levels around him and had a smoking habit. Weighed 120 kgs, and was shorter than that guy.
The coach made me do it.
When the sparring started, it was highly competitive. The guys from my club were competing on an even keel and it was fun.
The coaches of each of the clubs had interchanged their roles and were representing the corners of the rival clubs, I don’t know why but just for fun.
When the coach from the opposite camp came to me, he said that we all have to anyway get beaten up, just fight back.
I stepped into the ring nervously hoping I would get an opportunity to get settled. But the bull came charging. Mind you he wasn’t charging mindlessly, he was using technique. He was on his toes and could move fast for a guy that size.
I spent the first round defending. Moving my head, taking the punches, putting a few jabs in.
At the corner, the coach tells me to notice that the guy is a leftie (Southpaw). His strong arm is retracted and every time he jabs he exposes himself to your right hand.
The second round started and I tried what the coach told me, it didn’t work. The guy was expecting it and I couldn’t get the angle right to land a counter punch or a hook. Body shots landed, but they didn’t do much considering the guy’s fitness levels.
He landed quite a bit to my face because every time I was trying I was leaving myself exposed to being hit.
Go back to the corner again and the coach tells me, you need to hit him from a place he least expects it. See if you can figure.
And then when the round started, the first minute progressed as is, but then I sidestepped to the right and managed to land a clean left hook(my weak arm) to the guy’s jaw.
It is probably one of the hardest punches I have landed because the guy fell, I managed to bring down someone who weighed that much and was a lot more equipped to beat the crap out of me. He didn’t continue, the guy was in a daze and couldn’t help himself up.
Here is what I learned from the above two experiences.
You can think you are ready and go in all confident, but if you haven’t thought it through, it can leave you defeated.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can help you take calculated steps toward big goals, however big they may be.
What you consider a weakness can very well become a strength and can actually land the knockout punch.
It is ok to be scared if someone isn’t scared the bubble will burst on them soon enough.
Every time you try to aim high, you expose yourself. Hence, being careful is important.
When aiming big, it is always good to have a cornerman. Someone who has been there done that, just to nudge you along.
When you punch above your weight and win, you do not only elevate your self-confidence but you learn things and do things which you never would’ve figured otherwise.
As it is in the sport so it is with work.
When you compete in any sport, you need to train and evolve in order to move up and conquer the competition, we can always stay where we are and not do much, it’s a choice.
With work, We might be in a situation where we are doing something that seems easy to us, but that keeps us where we are. How will the muscle for the business develop if you do not do things which help you grow?
As you start aiming for the bigger fish and start punching above your weight, you will find out things that you never knew about yourself or your business. You will learn new things and do things that you have never done before.
My colleagues and I took it upon ourselves to at least compete, if not win pitches. It was bumpy at first, but with every rejection, we had created a foot in the door. We had made a mark, people started to take notice and our work kept on improving. You need to keep pulling at that thread constantly.
Eventually, we started doing far more work. Far bigger work.
We continue to punch above our weight and we can’t help but get surprised every time we win.