We can learn more from Muhammad Ali than how to throw a punch

Hannah Sims · 14 Jun

Although it might sometimes feel like it, and as much as we may occasionally dream of landing a punch on a particularly odorous colleague, not everyone spends their career holding their corner in the boxing ring. But Muhammad Ali brings more to the conference room table than a pair of red fists.

We could all learn a thing or two from his infamous words… let’s have a look.

1."It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

Message: Blow that trumpet!

We’re all brought up to be humble, to appreciate what we have but not to brag about it. But it was Ali’s unapologetic self-confidence that empowered him through the toughest of fights, that provided him with the courage to take the risks he did, that drove his success.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

While we’re not suggesting that you open a new tab now and tweet “I am the greatest” (you might get a few re-tweets, and a few more laughs), the ‘word of mouse’ of the Internet is a very powerful and underutilised tool of self-promotion. Why not encourage your happiest customers to act as brand ambassadors online? Incentivise them to leave reviews. Harness the power of social media and bursting review platforms to mix up your content posts with customer success stories. You might be surprised by the results.

54% of China's workforce have called in sick the day after a match.

2. "The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

Message: Don’t be afraid of change.

Modern businesses are riddled with employees that are resistant to change or, worse, actively scared of it. The turbulent modern business world can be frightening, but teams who are unable to adapt to new systems and processes risk being left behind.

So be flexible, be willing to change your ways and, here it is again… take risks!

3. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Message: Work with those around you, not against them

‘Float like a butterfly’ doesn’t mean ‘let people walk all over you’. What it does mean, is tread softly in your actions and build bridges, don’t burn them. Your coworkers are your friends. They are the glue that will help to stick the episodes of your career path together, so treat them with respect. Choose your battles wisely and only worry about ‘real’ issues that will directly affect your performance and results at work. This will lay the foundation for you to be able to ‘sting like a bee’ when it’s really necessary.

4. “Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”

Message: Be ‘proactive’, not ‘reactive’.

So often we let the minutes, the hours, the days pass by as we wait for opportunities to come to us. We let the tides of life push us about and scramble to our feet when life catches us off guard. Living in this ‘reactive’ state we might stay afloat, but we’ll struggle to truly succeed.

If you can take ‘control the control-ables’ – those things you are directly responsible for and can do something about – and tackle issues ahead of time, you’ll find yourself riding the big waves, rather than being bowled over by them.

5. “What keeps me going is goals.”

Message: Set goals, basically.

No one gets anywhere without a goal. Fact. Ok, maybe not a fact, but certainly an intelligent comment. No one bright sets off on a road-trip without a destination, do they?

Setting clear goals helps to clarify your thoughts when your head is bursting with ideas. Just as smaller, consistent rewards act as a more powerful source of motivation and happiness than large cash bonuses, achieving your weekly goals will result in a great sense of satisfaction. Channel this satisfaction into the next step of the journey and before you know it, you’ll be turning insurmountable mountains into smaller hills and climbing them one step at a time. Oh, and you’ll be happy while you do it.

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