Inside the ring it’s a sport, outside the ring it’s a crime. You guessed it, I’m referring to professional boxing. I’ll return to the absurdity of this sport and how it relates to leadership in a moment but let me say if you want a good laugh simply google “boxing quotes” and enjoy yourself. Here are a few I came across:
Bob Hope: “I was called “Rembrandt” Hope in my boxing days, because I spent so much time on the canvas.
Muhammad Ali, on an upcoming fight with Floyd Patterson: “I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”
Randall “Tex” Cobb: “When I got up I stuck to my plan — stumbling forward and getting hit in the face.”
Max Baer, when asked for his definition of fear: “Standing across the ring from Joe Louis and knowing he wants to go home early.”
Muhammad Ali: “It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”
I think it’s this last quote from Ali that sums up how ridiculous boxing seems to me…we’ve sanctioned a job the purpose of which is to beat someone up. But what does this have to do with leadership? Be selective with who or what you’re willing to climb into the ring for. Choose your fights wisely.
A college professor once said, “Some things are worth fighting for and some things are worth dying for. And most things aren’t worth either.” Sometimes leaders can make issues of things that really aren’t that important. We need to ask ourselves, “Is this something I need to get in the ring over?”
Are you in the ring right now with someone? Is it really worth it? Could someone else get in the ring in your place? Will letting the issue go be all that bad? Never underestimate your ability to think something is really important…when it’s not. In the past I’ve made issues of things that looking back I can now see weren’t as important as I thought they were. There have been things I thought were problems that were not and my thinking they were ended up making them a problem…a different problem, a bigger problem.
When in doubt get advice from someone objective and disassociated from the situation. Don’t get in the ring unless you really need to.
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