How is Business like Boxing?

Why Anthony Joshua not Richard Branson should be your Business Idol

 

What does it take to get into the ring? For a boxer or a business person, it’s surprising how the preparation, skills and mental toughness required are the very skills needed to help achieve knock out success.

That’s what I learnt from the renowned sport and exercise psychologist, Prof Andy Lane who took us through the psychology of boxers, the various methods to build mental toughness and emotional control and how he includes these techniques when training top athletes and boxers.

Professor Lane was speaking at an early-morning, health-fuelled breakfast at the stunning new BXR London in Marylebone. Billed as the world’s first high-end boxing gym, this is where world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua trains and is dedicated to developing a championship mindset in its members.

 

 

And what I took out of it was what great advice it was to turn ‘The Boxer Mindset’ 🥊 into ‘The Business Mindset’👔

Here are just some of my takeaways from the talk to prepare you for that ultimate step into the ring:

Be clear on your goal

Every success starts here. Be specific, put a time frame around your goals and use physical imagery and your imagination to visualise and reinforce what that success will look like.  Now – go get it.

Manage your inner dialogue

Negative self-talk is never going to help you achieve your goals. Write down what you are saying to yourself and ask if you would ever be so negative to a friend? No, you wouldn’t. Be your own best friend. Re-frame the self-talk and turn it into positive reinforcement.

Mentally rehearse and hold skills together

Again, the importance of visualisation and putting together, through physical and mental rehearsal, all the skills you’ve learnt over the months and years of learning and training.

Control stress and anxiety

It is vital to learn the techniques and skills that work for you to reduce anxiety at the start of any contest, big meeting or presentation.  Stress and anxiety lead you to make bad decisions.  Control your anxiety and make better decisions when it really matters to your success.

Learn to deal with fatigue

Let’s assume that no business person is ever going to be as tired as a boxer in the ring getting up from the canvas after a round 10 knock-out! But we all know that launching and running businesses is hard work. The key is to recognise that you’re fatigued and use your experience to understand that you can deal with it in the moment and keep going if you really need to.  

You’ll have tested yourself in the past – you know that you came through it and that one or two late-nights working are not going to take you off your track of healthy eating, good sleep and regular exercise (you do all those things, right?).

Those two late nights could make the difference between you or a competitor winning a vital contract. Use your fantastic visualisation skills and your focus on the end goal to work through the fatigue. Make sure you’ve got a strategy to work around it.

Model Your Success.

All serious athletes have a training diary. You might even be using a Fitbit or other device to track your own exercise, running or cycling habit. Writing down or recording online how and what you are doing means you can review what isn’t working and, more importantly, what is working – so you can replicate and model that success.

Your ‘Business Training Diary’ might include records of:

  • your work or individual tasks
  • your psychological states or moods
  • your recovery times or approaches

By reviewing these records over time, you’ll see where you need to reinforce your goals or the positive beliefs you’ll need to succeed.  You can develop new self-talk scripts to rephrase your inner language and develop new imagery to counter performance issues.  

Don’t forget – that you can only prepare and do your best in any one moment – but stack the odds in your favour with good preparation and self-belief. 

Use music to build belief

The power of music is incredible. It can help calm; enhance your mood or pump you up. Prof. Lane described how he uses a personalised music playlist to help boxers and their teams in the dressing room in the build-up to a fight.

The playlist starts slow and calm, it begins to build in tempo and tension, it grows ultimately to a powerhouse of sound that fires-up the aggression and belief every boxer needs before they get into the ring.

Can you imagine using this technique before a big meeting or presentation?  As long as it doesn’t result in you punching someone – it could be a great way of getting you into the right mental framework!  The secret is to develop and use this over time, so that your mind and body know to react in a certain way when you hear the music.

In wrapping-up, Prof. Lane used the 2017 fight between Anthony Joshua vs Klitchko as the ultimate example of using all the above techniques successfully for a fight that Klitchko was ‘supposed’ to win.  Great mental and physical preparation, great self-belief and the ability to get up, even when fatigued, and just keep going.

“Joshua won by TKO in the eleventh round. They fought a close and cautious first four rounds. In the fifth, Joshua came out and barraged Klitschko to the canvas. Klitschko rose up and dominated Joshua for the remainder of the round, battering him and scoring his own knockdown in round 6. The next few rounds were again cautious, both men wary of each other, until a reinvigorated Joshua attacked Klitschko in round 11, sending him to the canvas. Klitschko again rose but Joshua knocked him down for a second time in the round, then sent a barrage of punches while Klitschko was against the ropes that made the referee stop the fight.” (Wikipedia)

So instead of following Branson or whoever your go-to business mentor is – maybe it’s time to start following Joshua – you just might get a knockout win at life!

 

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