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The Joy Of Learning
how boxing helped me win the game of business.
Every year, I commit to learning something new – whether it’s physical (sport), intellectual (language), or artistic (dance/musical instrument)...
When you set just one recreational learning intention for the year - it makes a successful outcome much more realistic.
You don’t risk “overwhelm” or being “too busy” to shelf away your initial ambition – you have an entire year to walk away with proficiency in just one thing.
Everyone has time for this.
When you commit to learning new things – you literally create new connections in your brain. This opens up new possibilities for your life.
It’s the best way to stay engaged with life and keep your brain healthy, young, creative, and active.
And for the record - we’re not talking about “passive learning” here – like reading a book or watching YouTube - we’re talking about the process of learning (and using) new skills - this requires active practice.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to learn, because when you put your brain in the “beginner mindset” – when you force yourself to push through the resistance of the uncomfortable beginning and allow momentum to build…
You meet new parts of yourself in the process.
Like when you learn a new language – you’re not just learning to pronounce new words – you’re learning a new culture, mode of thinking, and communication style.
When you see how others live and think - it expands your worldview - and your sense of self. It gives you more perspective as to how big and different the world is – and how small and similar it is at the same time.
Whenever you commit to learning something new, you will be met with resistance - because nobody likes doing things that are uncomfortable and make us look stupid - it challenges our sense of self.
Yet, when you push through this initial resistance and move forward with action in reality…
Not only does your self esteem increase (because you follow through on the promises you make to yourself), and daily enjoyment of life increases (through the growth that comes from placing yourself in uncomfortable situations and challenging yourself)
You literally create new neural networks in your brain – and these things carry over to other parts of your life.
Learning new skills is the best way to make yourself smarter, more interesting, happier, and younger.
Not to mention – you have new hobbies to enjoy (and improve at) – which makes your life much richer and fulfilling.
We are biased creatures – we like to spend our time doing things we are good at, and we typically like to avoid things we are bad at.
But what if you could get better at things you are bad at – unlocking a new level of diversity of hobbies and activities to your life?
At the end of the day — how you spend your time, is how you spend your life – and engaging in hobbies that keep you in a flow state and stimulate you creatively, intellectually, and physically – is a beautiful way to invest your precious hours.
If you’re not engaged by continuous learning (about yourself and the world) and you’re not exploring your curiosities and passions - you’re becoming dull – you’re decaying instead of growing.
Doing what you’ve always done is bad for your brain - learning new things will literally help prevent dementia (and boredom/stagnation).
It turns out that giving yourself permission to change, to try new things, and to follow the energy of your curiosities…
Is really good for your brain and overall sense of self.
And when you learn new things – you see them carry over into other parts of your life – the intersection of those things forges who you are as a unique and interesting person.
As I write this post, I’m learning to dance to dance Bachata.
As part of the learning process – I’m taking private lessons, joining group classes, and socially dancing whenever I get the opportunity.
I’m listening to new music (and connecting to it differently), learning new movement patterns, loosening up, and generally - just tapping in to a new energy - connecting with a softer and more feminine part of my essence.
After the first few sessions of uncomfortable confusion – I’m at the place where I’m enjoying the progress of becoming a little bit better with every hour I spend in the learning process.
As I learn to dance, I notice an energy shift in other parts of my life – I feel more rhythmic, smooth, and sensual – and I notice subtle energetic shift of my interactions with the opposite sex.
In Bachata, the man is expected to lead the women - physically and energetically – firmly and confidently – but gently, and smooth.
The woman is supposed to effortlessly (and enjoyably) submit to the man’s leadership, to trust his movements, and follow his guidance with joy.
This is a classic masculine and feminine dynamic, but we’ll trigger the feminists in another post…
Today I’m going to write about how boxing helped me win the game of business.
What a shame it is for a man to grow old without ever feeling the pure power and potential that his body is capable of generating
Every man should be competent with at least one martial art, or at the least, be acquainted with violence.
It taps into our protector instincts - at a primal energetic level - and keeps us rooted in our physical bodies - friendly to the facts of reality.
I started boxing in 2018 – and it took me about a year and a half to feel comfortable with my skills. I continue training to this day, and I seem to be making 0.1% improvements with every session I bring full consciousness into.
Acquiring this skill completely transformed my energy and confidence — bringing a new level of powerful, yet grounded energy into my life.
Boxing is all about energy efficiency — inflicting the most damage – in the most efficient way possible — fast, and effortlessly - and sustaining this energy through extreme fatigue and stress - while avoiding the hits coming your way.
It’s like playing a game of violent chess — while dancing.
As a previously insecure and aggressive meathead, boxing instilled in me a new level of trust in my body, my reactions, and my instincts.
This newfound connection with my body and it’s capabilities elevated my levels of calm, cool, and confident.
If you’re able to step into a 16 foot square, with another man who has been training to hurt you (and avoid getting hurt by you)...
You learn to act and move forward, despite the most primitive fear imaginable — and you learn to stay cool amidst conflict – at the most primal level.
And this primal fear is infinitely more tangible and real than the imaginary “fear” of failure that keeps most from trying new things, taking action, or putting themselves out there!
This transcendence of the most primal fear will carry over into everything you do – you learn to act despite your fear, and most importantly:
Learning to transcend your fears and limitations is the fastest way to evolve your consciousness.
You learn that fear is merely a limitation your mind sets – and when you push through it – you say to yourself “this wasn’t as bad as my mind made it out to be” — and this carries over to your relationship with nearly every other ‘fear’ in your life.
The more you push through your fears — the more your sense of self efficacy and self esteem grows, and the less you see “fear” as a limitation – and more of a challenge that exists to help you grow.
When you’re in a boxing ring with another man — your sense of reality warps - your senses sharpen - and time slows down.
You’re forced to be in the deepest flow state of your life – in sync with your every movement and breath - and that of your opponents – because if you snap out of this state, for even a millisecond – you will pay the price.
The world around you disappears and your primal instincts kick in – to survive, to win, to dominate.
And through training – you learn to control the level of adrenaline and fear coursing through your body – you learn to stay calm and trust in your instincts and training - to think less and allow your mind and body to enter a flow state that feels like auto-pilot, despite being in an extremely high stress situation.
When you step into a boxing ring – the world around you disappears.
You’re in there alone - nobody is coming to save you - and you’re reminded:
Life is very much a single player game.
You learn to see that the results of your skills when put to the test are directly correlated to the quality of your preparations, your discipline, and the consciousness you brought to every training session.
You create new movements patterns and learn to use them “automatically” – under extreme fatigue and physical stress and danger.
Learning to box will supercharge your brain, harden your body, help you live longer, and forge your warrior spirit - which will carry over into how you face every challenge in life.
Doing hard things on the physical plane puts everything else into perspective…
The Magic Of Hard Things
Competing in business isn’t hard – it’s challenging.
It’s an intellectual sport we get to play from comfortable chairs in air conditioned offices.
Stepping into a sixteen foot square with someone who has been training to take your head off is hard. Keeping your cool, and returning into the same ring after you’ve reached the point of exhaustion and had your liver smashed, is hard.
One of the best lessons I’ve taken from the sport:
When you think you have nothing left in the tank – you have at least 20% left – and when you move forward after your brain tells you “I think we’re done here” — you learn how to tap into an inner power reserve that was previously unaccessible.
If you zoom out and get perspective, you realize that – most things in our lives aren’t “hard” – they are challenging.
They require us to show up, bring our energy and our trust in ourselves and our ability to solve problems.
“This is hard” is what we simply default to when we lack the energy to step into the unknown and uncomfortable, and build the momentum needed to solve challenging problems.
Doing hard things reframes all of this – the more hard and uncomfortable stuff you do – the more you are conditioned to see “hard things” as mere challenges worth solving - because they bring the prize of elevated self esteem and self efficacy.
You learn that the hardest thing about doing hard things is just getting started, and sticking with it until it becomes “easier”
While I don’t recommend competing in boxing (because brain trauma is no joke)…
Every man should experience getting punched in the face – at least once (or even better – punching someone in the face).
When you’re familiar with violence, and competent enough to deliver it — you learn that it should always be the last resort, the last option – and preventing it is the goal.
This is why at the highest level, the most skilled fighters – the most dangerous men - are typically the most respectful, kind, and humble.
Learning to box taught me about discipline, work ethic, being uncomfortable, learning to be agile and adjust in real time, acting under fear and fatigue, and most importantly…
Boxing taught me how to push through my internal limits and fears.
It brought me face to face with my biggest weaknesses and strengths – and reminded me of the cyclical nature of life:
Some days you’re feeling it, and some days you’re not – but what’s important is that you show up regardless of how you feel.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from boxing represents my general attitude towards life, risk, and catastrophe:
No matter how much you train and prepare, no matter how skilled or talented you are…
You will always take a hit you don’t expect.
And the hits that do the most damage – are the ones you don’t expect or prepare for.
You should always expect the unexpected and remember that:
The damage doesn’t matter as much as how you react to it.
You can be demoralized, victimized, and scrunch up into a fetal position on the floor – feeling bad for yourself and seek to enroll the empathy of others – oh how unfair life is!
Or you can take a deep breath, dig into the deepest reserve of your internal power stores and…
Keep your cool, adjust your strategy, and keep moving forward - despite the pain you feel.
Boxing taught me that I had infinitely more internal power than I ever imagined.
These lessons helped me cultivate a calm and focused yet ferocious warrior energy that carried over into every other part of my life.
Boxing is about staying cool, calm, and composed – and then EXPLODING with fury and vengeance – when the opportunity presents itself.
It’s about taking your hits on the chin like a G – and keeping your cool - regardless of what hits you take.
Boxing taught me that the fear in your mind is made much more powerful than what it actually is in reality, and if you fear your opponent - you’ve already lost - well before you’ve even stepped foot in the ring.
When I was grinding away in 2019, fighting for market-share (and my place in the world) in a hyper-competitive industry…
Every day was war, and the boxing gym was my refuge, my sanctuary – my daily therapy.
A place that forced me to mentally check-out from everything else in my life – because if I paid my “problems” any attention – I would get hurt.
And this served me extremely well, because the solutions to your problems don’t emerge when you focus on your problems.
Breakthroughs seldom happen behind the screen - they happen when you’re zoomed out and taking a step back - allowing the magical intelligence of your subconscious to solve your problem under the surface.
The best problem-solvers in life are:
Long Walks (without stimulus)
Time Spent In Nature
90 Minute Deep Tissue Massage
Delightful Night Of Deep Sleep
When you’re stuck – zoom out and step away - go play.
Your brain works best when it’s relaxed and expansive.
And your state of relaxation and expansiveness directly correlates with your environment, your nutrition, your sleep, and your information/media intake…
This is why it’s so foolish to prioritize ANYTHING above your health and well-being – especially “business” or “money” - because greater health and energy unlocks greater opportunity.
The more comfortable you get with being uncomfortable…
The more you’re PERFECTLY FINE with looking like a complete idiot…
And the more you seek to put yourself in “growth situations” that challenge your sense of self and put you in unknown and uncomfortable territory…
The more you are conditioning your brain to push through self imposed limitations and seek growth – this will fuel your imagination, creativity, and motivation.
You learn to reinforce the brain pattern of growth:
Conscious Intention -> Uncomfortable Beginning -> Discipline Of Practice -> New Skills Acquired -> Enjoyment And Utility Of New Skills → Joy → Repeat.
The result of learning new things is intangible and you won’t know what it unlocks for you until after you complete the cycle.
At the very least - you will learn about the process of going from “nothing” to “something” - reinforce your sense of self efficacy - and enjoy the elevated self esteem and sense of satisfaction that comes with that.
It’s easy to let your mind “overwhelm you” with how much you have to do, how much you have to learn, and how terrible you are now…
But allowing the monkey mind to prevail with it’s negativity and cognitive distortions will keep you from getting started in the first place.
It’s much wiser to just move forward regardless of what the self-sabotaging mind spews out, and to just focus on making progress in the present moment – and not to be concerned with the end goal or result.
When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I learned that it was demoralizing (and painful) to look up at how far left I had to go — it was much wiser to just keep my head down and grind - one step at a time.
Even just 1% of improvement per week will yield unimaginable results over time if you are consistent, and the results will feed your motivation for continued progress, reinvigorate your brain with a sense of child-like curiosity, and re-spark your lust for the gift of life.
And pushing through the resistance in one area – will help reinforce the “take action regardless” mechanism in your brain.
As a result - you’ll try more, do more, and grow more - as opposed to staying “stuck” in a rigid sense of identity and self imposed limitation.
In my humble opinion – this is a key ingredient for a fulfilled and engaging life well lived.
If you’re learning something, or planning on it - let me know what’s on the agenda.
For now, I’ll be dancing.
Till next time.
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