Lessonsfrom the Lord of the Ring.
I sat down to talk withDrew Brown, the first black jet fighter pilot in the Navy, adecorated war veteran, who was raised on the streets of Harlem. Hewent to school at Southern University, played basketball for theHarlem Globetrotters, and wrote a book called You Gotta Believe!
Subject of ourdiscussion? Boxing.
More specific, MuhammadAli.
“When I was a kid, myfather made me sit in the corner,” Drew said with an all-knowingsmile. “Oh, not the corner you’re thinking about. I’m talking aboutthe corner that Muhammad Ali sat in while he was winning or defendingthe heavyweight championship of the world.”
Drew’s dad wasBundini Brown. Bundini was Ali’s trainer, and in Ali’s cornerwith Angelo Dundee for every major fight of Ali’s career. So wasthe young Drew Brown. Drew was there at the fights and at the gymwhere Ali got ready and trained to become a world champion.
Can you imagine beingringside for the career of the greatest boxer of all time? I wantedto hear every story. Liston, Frazier, Foreman, and Norton. I wantedto hear about the fights.
Like all boxing fans inthe ’60s and ’70s, I loved Ali. His style, his speed, hisswagger, and his confidence. Yes he was controversial, but that didnot detract from his skills. He fought like no other. He was awarrior. And still today, he is the most recognized name in theworld.
After about half adozen stories, I challenged Drew to take the stories and convert theminto lessons. “What did you learn from sitting in the corner? Whatdid Ali’s career teach you?”
“I never thoughtabout it,” he said smiling.
“Think about it, Iwant to know the lessons,” I challenged.
Drewbegan to talk, and I began to write. Here are the lessons he learnedsitting at the feet of Muhammad Ali and observing his actions. Thinkabout how you might be able to model Ali’s habits in your salescareer:
- He got ready towin. He trained to be a champion, not just win the fight.
- He simulated thefight environment for months before the fight. He had sparringpartners that pushed him to the limit. Many later became hisopponents in the ring.
- He had a victorystrategy that he prepared and practiced every day.
- He was healthy.He ate right and exercised right. Never a weight lifter, he just gotin fight shape. Fight ready.
- He psychedhimself up every day. Winning starts with your mental attitudeand self-belief way before your punching power.
- He was the masterself-promoter for his sport, and for himself. He proclaimed thathe was, “the greatest of all time.”
- He alwaysbelieved he would win. Self-thought and self-belief were hissecret weapons. (His jab and powerful right hand came in handy aswell.)
- At the fight hepsyched his opponent. The pre-fight stare-down was without peer.He often used his mental advantage to gain a physical advantage.
- During the fighthe was not just punching or boxing, he was a student. When thebell rang, Ali was looking for the weakness of his opponent, andexploiting it.
- His mantra was:punch hard, punch fast, and dance.“Float like a butterfly,sting like a bee,” was not just a slogan, it was a style. Hisstyle. He set THE standard for skill, and the benchmark for how tofight. He was a heavyweight dancer. One-of-a-kind.
- Even though hewould predict an early knockout, Ali was prepared to go the distance.You don’t have to knock someone out, but you do have to win everyround.
- He hadpassionate, loyal fans. Still does. He was a loved champion.Still is. “Ali! Ali! Ali!,” the crowd would chant. (I was one ofthe chanters.)
“I watched him win. Iwatched him lose. I was privileged to watch the greatest fighter whoever lived. But I didn’t just watch, I learned. Some lessons I saw,and some I looked back to discover,” Drew explained. “But everylesson has value, and every lesson helped me in my career, whether itwas in the military or in the office.”
Drew Brown isremarkable. He has become a speaker, taking his life lessons intocorporate America, and into high schools to the youth of America. Hecalls his talk “The facts of life.” No, it’s not about thebirds and the bees. Those facts were fiction.
The problem with thefacts of life when you’re 12 years old, is that they’re not quite thefacts. In fact, it’s kind of the fiction of life. The real facts oflife occur when you get your business card printed and you realizethat your mommy or your daddy are not always able to come to yourrescue, and that you must rely on yourself. That’s a hard fact.
How have you learnedyour facts of life, and how are you taking advantage of thoselessons?
There’s a bit more.If you want Drew’s facts of life, go to www.gitomer.com, registerif you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the words DREW BROWN inthe GitBit box.