Posts Tagged 'muhammad ali'

The Laws of Defeat

Courtesy of

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.
Muhammad Ali

The Old School tells us to learn from failure.

“Identify the wrong turns,” they advise, “and then make them right the next time.” Retrace every step, analyze the mistakes and use them as an advantage in the future.

The New School says we ought to disregard breakdowns altogether.

“Forget it,” they shout, “there’s little use in remembering what’s been done poorly.” Better to wipe away any trace of a shortfall than hang it around our neck.

The truth is, of course, somewhere in between.

On the one hand, there is tremendous value in understanding which choices led to an undesired result. By picking apart the thinking behind each decision — and, in some cases, the information which shaped it — we are able to leverage similarities between yesterday and today to produce better outcomes tomorrow.

That said, the ability to compartmentalize those shortcomings — to keep them in the past — is vital going forward. Too much analysis can lead to an unnatural fear of opportunity. The burden of knowledge may have us avoid the very element which defines any success: risk.

What once was solid — our values and goals — is cast into doubt.

Rising from the ashes is confusing, it plays on our emotions and wreaks havoc on our perceptions.

Ultimately, losing affects our will more than anything else, so we must strike a fine balance.

Facing setbacks can diminish our spirit. Embarrassment or shame may leave us sensitive to the possibility of stepping into the arena again.

Or, having been stung by bitter disappointment, we are all the more prepared to sense and seize the next opening with all the energy we can muster.

That’s how we end up with a knock out.

Believing In Possibility

We give too much power to “impossible.”

We live in a world that shouts loudly what cannot or will not be done. People sit on separate sides of the aisle, pointing fingers angrily at the opposition’s “unwieldy” or “unrealistic” proposals.

We picture an end and look for the means all at once.

When a grand idea comes to us, we instantly feel charged by the thought of doing something life-changing for ourselves and others. Then we become bogged down in the way to achieve it. We see the goal a long way off and are unable to detect the path between “here” and “there.”

And that’s when greatness is left unachieved.

Plainly, to accomplish anything you must believe in possibility strongly. Your confidence will be tested often, from within and without. The depth of your faith must galvanize you,  it must become your shield against the “small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.”

In order for your conviction to flourish under the slings and arrows of timid minds (be prepared to fight in the shade), you’ll have to do three things:

1. Make your peace with inches
Realize everything that’s ever been done–from the creation of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the destruction of the Third Reich–was done incrementally. By accepting the fact that the road will be long and you’ll have to claw with your fingernails at times for every last bit of progress, it’s easier to put forth effort every day.

2. Remember what you have in mind
When building momentum, you have to find a way to keep an eye on the prize. Traveling between where you are and the fulfillment of your vision takes you through terrain of all kinds, but it is incredibly helpful to remember what the destination looks like while you’re on the way.

3. Choose your counsel wisely
Everybody and their dog will have something to say about what you’re doing. Be careful in deciding who you listen to. You must be comfortable enough in your own opinions to know that someone else’s have no bearing on your own unless you choose to let them.  Further, there will be times when wise words–preferably from one or two (or twelve) experienced people–will help you quite a bit. Respect the possibility you’re wrong on something and shift based on new evidence instead of blindly adopting new concepts. Having quality mentors to consult with allows you to quickly adapt and flow around obstacles like a river.

When given the opportunity to set forth on a new course or set a new record, first ground yourself by believing forcefully anything can happen. It is the basis for the advancement of every idea, the driving force behind the attainment of every goal.

Plus, life is infinitely more enjoyable being curious on a new frontier than stubborn in an old world.


Muhammad Ali – “Impossible is nothing.”

3 People You Meet During Change

I Dare You

Muhammad Ali

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.


Believing in Possibility

I Dare You

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