You may be aware that Jack Johnson was the first African-American Heavyweight Boxing champion of the world. What you may not be aware of is how he managed to achieve such a seemingly unattainable goal. The reason why I say “seemingly unattainable” is because he was poor and had no money to pay for anyone to spar with him or train him.
How could a person who couldn’t afford any coach, teacher, trainer or sparring partner become the world champion?
Turns out it seems to have everything to do with being willing to lose some of the battles in order to eventually to win the war…
The Misconception Of Success
In my opinion, there seems to be a preoccupation that many people have with focusing on winning every battle they come across. I believe that this line of thinking not only hurts more than it helps but can be devastating in an entrepreneur’s path to success.
Every experienced entrepreneur I know has come to terms with failure being part of the process of being successful. People who don’t accept failure as a stepping stone to success are either part of a very rare and exclusive club who have not only won the lottery, but won the lottery the first time they ever played it (which is quite a small club if a club at all) … OR… they are not successful and just like to hear themselves talk.
A Quick Digression…
Someone recently tweeted me saying (I’m paraphrasing) “Aren’t you tired of talking about your failures? Do you only attract losers who fail?”
I didn’t take offense to the comment as I come across this quite a bit in some way shape or form being that I wrote a book about failure (and what we learn from it). I was actually about to respond to the woman but figured I would check out her twitter stream to see if she really wanted an honest answer. I have no problem with genuine questions however, If I am going to take the time to answer someone I want to make sure that person really wants an answer and is willing to actually listen to my response.
As I looked at her stream I saw she didn’t want an answer as she was simply just lashing out to everyone and everything in her entire Twitter stream. I truly wonder why people do this. It is one thing to challenge people in their thinking but a different thing altogether to take the whole day to tell people you don’t agree with them without saying what it is in fact that you DO agree with! To me, it is a huge time suck with zero payoff. That being said, I move on…
Back To The Story
So Jack Johnson was poor and could not afford a trainer. Because of this, the chips were stacked against him. The only way he could get any practice was to actually book live fights, despite the fact that he was completely unprepared to fight in them. As you can imagine, he had to fight quite a bit more fights than any other fighter in his time, as he needed to get in all of his training inside the ring. But he didn’t stop there…
Losing To Win
Not only did he take more fights than anyone, but when he got into the ring he would specifically stay in the ring far longer than he had to in order to learn as much as possible.
Back then, fights were 20+ rounds and he would make sure not to make the mistake of knocking anyone out since that would end the fight prematurely and he never wanted the lesson to end short. To him, getting hit by punches were lessons on how to avoid getting hit in the future… so he took a lot more hits than he had to. So much so, he was known to hold his opponents up when he would hit them too hard so they wouldn’t fall.
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In my opinion, this is one of the greatest business examples a person can get as it has everything to do with getting experience any way you can… even if you have to lose a bit or prolong your pain in order to get it.
In my opinion, the smartest entrepreneurs are quite often the most prepared and preparation comes only from experience, as you obviously cannot prepare for something you have no experience with.
Nobody wakes up with experience and no one comes into the entrepreneurial world being a skillful entrepreneur. All experience starts with complete inability. Babies finally walk only after they fall a million times. We only hit a ball after a ton of strikeouts. No one I know of dunked their first time, except maybe Manute Bol whose wingspan was taller than the rim. Bottom line, in order to win the war you have to accept losing a ton of battles along the way.
Know you are going to take hits today and look forward to it. It’s the only way you will learn how to hit back.