Despite my obnoxious posting about my fight on Showtime this last weekend, I hope you had something better to do than watch. If you didn’t, then I’ll fill you in. I got stopped in the 1st round.
It’s heavyweight boxing. When you have two men over 200 lbs throwing hard shots, someone is bound to go down. My opponent (quite the affable fellow outside the ring), landed a great short right over my jab and the fight was short lived after that.
It’s a terrible way to lose. Worse, it was live for the whole world to see. It’s awful but it’s part of life. I move on and become better from it.
My main purpose in life, above boxing, is to take what I experience the hard way and break it down so that people may learn from it the easy way.
I’ve spent the last week piecing together notes on my reaction to this event.
In many ways, I learned more from this 3 minutes (technically speaking, the referee called a stop to the contest sometime after the 2-minute mark) than I did from the rest of my 9-year career in boxing. Life is funny this way.
If you can look at things the right way, you learn more from failure than success. Jay-Z once said, “I will not lose for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so that evens it up for me”.
Here are 8 valuable lessons I learned from losing on national television.
Embarrassment is the worst emotion to feel
It’s miserable because there’s no real way to confront or conquer it. You can face your fears. You can cheer yourself up if your sad. Embarrassment is just a burden you bear until it heals.
The one fortunate thing about embarrassment is that like all other negative emotions, it is extremely susceptible to the power of gratitude.
The people who truly love you do so because of who you are
Our worst fear is that people only care about us because of what we can do. These types of people can only ever like you. At best, they can respect you.
We secretly fear that those closest to us are there because of a deeper agenda. Some people are. There’s nothing you can do about that. But it times of distress, the people who love you will be there for you. Though this should be expected, it comes as a most welcome surprise.
You are never as good they say you are when you win, and never as bad as they say you are when you lose
It’s impossible to accurately assess your level immediately after you lose, but it is important to figure out where you stand. You must evaluate yourself and decided if you merely made a mistake, a different course to the same goal is required, or perhaps that it is time to quit all together.
Everyone’s path is different, but it’s impossible to know that while you are still suffering the emotional effects of the loss.
(The following was added 9/12/2017, nearly a year after the loss).
It took me nearly a year to watch myself get knocked out. I took the year of 2017 off from boxing so that I could finish my degree and focus on my writing. However, before returning I needed to get over that hump.
After watching, my biggest surprise was how I looked in the moments prior to the knockout shot. It was a good shot, but I wasn’t boxing too poorly. I have some improvement to go, but I know I still have a good career left.
Boxing is a strange animal, but heavyweight boxing especially. I’ve turned down a few fights for low 5 figures this year. Now that I’ve lost, I’m worth more. My age is not really a factor as the average age of the top 10 heavyweights is approximately 32.
Heaven and Hell represent how you’ve lived your life
More powerful lessons from losing
I've written more about the confidence I developed from this experience. Or you can watch the animated version.Check it out here
If you’ve lead a good life helping others, you go to heaven. If you’ve lead an evil life and take from others, then you go to hell. The same can be said of your ego when it dies.
Few men’s ego can survive losing on television by a TKO. Mine certainly did not. If you were an asshole prior to your loss, hell awaits you in the world and on social media.
If you’ve done your best to uplift and help those around you, the outpouring of support from the world and on social media will be immense.
This is often stated another, less esoteric way: How you treat people on the way up determines how they will treat you on your way down.
Perspective is everything
The morning after the fight I was moping around and feeling very bad for myself. Depressed isn’t quite the feeling I experienced, but I was definitely caught up in my own self-pity.
Then I sat down for breakfast in the hotel. The news was running a segment on the bombings in Aleppo, Syria. Then it followed up with police shootings in Tulsa,OK and Charlotte,NC. Finally, I learned that a guy walked into a mall in Washington State and killed 5 people, one of which was a 16-year old cancer survivor.
Suddenly, everything was put into perspective. There are REAL problems in the world. I took an embarrassing loss on television. That sucks for me, but there are people in the world dealing with loss of life and liberty for no other reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At that point my mood jumped 3 levels because I remembered something Randy Couture once told me: “If the worst thing that happens to you in your life is that you lose a fight, then you’re doing alright”.
The more unique your experience in life, the fewer people there are who can relate to it
This means that not only are there fewer people who can give you advice, there are fewer people who you can talk to about your specific problem.
The people who love you will try to understand and give you words of encouragement. However, in the end you will still feel alone and misunderstood. This is yet another clever ego trap.
As long as you view yourself as different and superior, you are blocking the energy that people offer to you. This energy comes from their love for you and kindness in their heart. Humility is the only way to experience the flow of this.
This may not solve the problem, but it does remind that you are never truly alone. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Identity is a tricky thing
The hardest part of a setback is that it forces you to reconsider elements of your personality you’ve defined yourself by for years. One must know thyself thoroughly, for this is the only way to fully form your identity.
It’s very easy to see oneself through the lens of accomplishment. The reality is there’s far more to a person than that.
I suspect that people who take on self-destructive behavior after a professional set back do so because they define themselves by their accomplishments. To these people, failures cease to be learning opportunities. Instead. they become the stakes they burn themselves at.
This is another trick of the ego and one you must be vigilant against. Never forget: no matter what you accomplish, people are the most important thing. Oh, also that the world will go on spinning with or without your precious identity intact.
What you’re afraid of is worse in your imagination than in reality
I used to be afraid of losing. I used to be afraid of getting knocked out in front of people. Now I know that it’s not so bad. The world goes on.
I’m not dead. The important things in my life are still here. This is how it is with most of the terrible things you fear. It is either highly unlikely that they’ll ever happen or your imagination makes it far worse than reality.
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