No one would tag me as someone who likes to watch people beating each other up.
I really don’t except to say since I’m from Philadelphia, the birthplace of Rocky, watching two people go at it in a ring is not unfamiliar. In fact, it’s glorified, namely in a bronze statue of Sylvester Stallone outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A few years ago, when I interviewed Lorenzo Fertitta, the UFC then-CEO, he mentioned a woman named “Ronda Rousey” and to watch her as a rising star. He was saying this to any mainstream press who would listen. It was a passing comment. About 18 months ago, while browsing Youtube, I watched her fight. And fight again. I liked her attitude but even more interesting than her fight videos were the video snippets about her life and struggles, which included everything from death, glory, failure to poverty. Everything that had also happened in my own life.
From then on, I took a keen interest as I do with all Horatio Alger-type stories. She was no different to me than a Jeff Bezos or a Howard Schultz – people who rose from obscurity to the pinnacles of their field through hard work, intelligence, cleverness and risk. Except she did twist arms for a living.
Now she’s suffered her second defeat – by far, the most humiliating – and it made me wonder what these same class of accomplished individuals would do or have done differently. What did she do wrong and what can be learned in the rise and fall of a fighter?
1. It’s all mental. There’s a scene in the 2015 movie “Creed” when Sylvester Stallone’s character takes his protege by the shoulder and makes him look in the mirror. He tells him the biggest enemy is the person staring back at him. Rousey went into her last fight on Dec 30 with her body conditioned to the max but her mental game weak. In life, how you think affects the way you act and the way other people react to you. I’ve often said fear is the #1 biggest motivator and de-motivator. If not for fear, we would all be the same.
2. Humility. I watched the #fearthereturn promos around Rousey’s comeback and cringed. There’s confidence and then there’s stupidity. When you lose, you must humble yourself and find out what went wrong, then correct it. The same is true whether you’ve lost a fight or a job. What skills do you need to add on to make yourself better? What did you not foresee? Who can you reach out to improve your game?
3. Stick to your knitting. After the fight, there was a lot of criticism, particularly from her opponent, Amanda Nunes, that she should have stuck to what she knows best: judo. Instead, she went into the cage a pretend-boxer. Very few people can rise to the top of multiple fields that take years, even decades, for others to achieve. And certainly not after 13 months of training. Jamie Dimon once told me that after he lost his job at Citigroup, he was offered the CEO position at Home Depot. While the offer was tempting, he was realistic enough to recognize that he knew absolutely zero about home improvement. Banking was what he grew up in and had honed his skills and that’s where he stayed. Now he’s in his 11th year as the CEO of JP Morgan.
Now if you’ve ever faced defeat, you know what it’s like to go to the dark side. Watch as entrepreneur Gary Garrabrant discusses what to do when you sense yourself heading there.
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