I spent 3 years knowing that I wanted to take up boxing.
But I was scared.
I used to practice martial arts as a kid and then again as an adult. I used to love sparring. But the truth is that I haven’t been in a dojo for over 20 years.
I was afraid of getting hit. I was afraid of being a beginner. I was afraid of looking bad.
Then I invited Wendy Cirello to join my team. Her job was to have ONE particular focus: help me do what SCARES me.
She wasted no time: “What scares you, Rich?”
I replied: “Boxing…”
The next day, she texted me: “You have your first boxing class at 5am tomorrow morning!”
Karl seemed nice in my first session. He called me Rich, he asked about my family, he asked about my goals.
Two months later, he pushes me so hard, I’m drenched in sweat every session. He doesn’t let me quit even when I’m desperate to. He shouts at me things like, “Hit it harder, m*therfucker!”
And I love it!
As a coach to high-performing clients, I usually take a very different approach to Karl but I have been looking at coaching through the lens of boxing and here are my insights:
1. DONE DOES NOT EQUAL DONE
When I think I’m done, I always have more to give. Almost every time, when I’m about to collapse in a puddle of sweat, Karl says something like, Jump on the climber and give me 200 steps. I may not be very graceful but I almost always have more in me than I think I do.
Where do you currently think you’re done, that you could bring a little more—even just 4% more—to your clients, your business, your relationship?
2. YOU’RE LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE
I had no idea that boxing is about your legs! It was obvious to me—punching is about arm strength, right? And then I discovered that when a boxer throws a punch, it is not only upper body strength but also leg strength that determines how much power the punch will pack.
What if you are looking in the wrong place? That thing that’s working really well for you in your business—maybe that’s NOT it. What new skill or new mindset could have a huge impact on you or your clients?
3. I HATE YOU
Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code, wrote: “Seek a coach who scares you a little. Encounters with great coaches tend to be filled with: feelings of respect, admiration, and, often, a shiver of fear. This is a good sign.”
I’d add, if you’re not saying—or thinking—”I hate you!” about your coach, they are letting you off. You’re too comfortable.
Where is your coach letting you off the hook? Where could you push your clients even a tiny bit past their comfort zone?
4. YOU NEED A ‘WHAT SCARES YOU LIST’
Almost every time I head in the direction of my fears, something special happens. Fear is a mask for desire.
My buddy Sean Stephenson had me create a What Scares You list, three years ago. It was then I first realized that I wanted to take up boxing but I was scared. And not much changed for 2 years and 11 months!
But then I looked at the fear behind the fear. It turns out, I wasn’t afraid of boxing. I was afraid of getting hit, being a beginner and looking bad.
And then I looked at the desire underneath the fear. I wanted to feel strong and fit and walk my talk. And now I’m doing the thing that scared me. It’s hard. Really hard. But it was my fears that were scaring me. Not the boxing itself.
Make a list of all the things that scare you. Look for what you are REALLY afraid of. And then look for the desire underneath the fear. Then go do one of those things that feels scary—in the next 7 days.
5. PUNCH. BREATHE. REPEAT.
I often say that the 4 most important words in coaching are “I Believe In You”. But I don’t think Karl believes in me! At least, not yet. And actually, he doesn’t need to.
I show up. And he pushes me. Harder than I could ever do for myself. He doesn’t say much, either.
But then, as Dan Coyle says: “Look for a coach who is action-oriented: they often won’t want to spend a lot of time chatting – and want to jump into a few activities immediately.”
Punch. Breathe. Repeat. These 3 words are etched onto the window of my boxing gym. Simplicity. What’s the tiniest step you could take right now, that would have the biggest impact?