Amongst all the inspirational quotes and posters displayed at my first gym, was a short phrase, hand-written on the wall in felt-pen that simply said “Know Yourself’. This small decree hit home larger than any other motivational message. When your skill or your will meets resistance that’s when you find out how much you’re prepared to tolerate.
Rocky Bilbao once said:
“It aint’ about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forwards”
We’re all going to get hit, no matter how fast, fit, clever or rich we may be. But in boxing as in life, we can take one - to give two back. If we get hit hard, we can take a ten-count. If we get knocked down, rise, take a deep breath and continue. If you lose and live to fight another day - learn from your lesson. Learn that you can control you and rarely the circumstances.
For me boxing was a conduit to self-actualisation. Turning up repeatedly to improve became a physical ritual for expressing my intent outside of the gym. When my lungs and heart hurt and acidosis of my muscles meant I struggled to keep my hands up, I couldn’t stop while there was still a target in front of me. And when the bell went I realised I’d gone further than I’d thought possible - I found myself in an expanded landscape of self-knowledge and understanding - I was capable of more than I realised. Repeatedly exceeding my expectations was so empowering. Naturally curiosity demanded to know - how much more am I capable of? Watching others fold before the bell only fuelled me to continue, because I knew I could. Surpassing my self-imposed limits built self-efficacy and self-assurance in my achievements outside the gym. I felt in control. Whatever the scale of the task, I began to walk towards it as opposed to distancing myself from it.
The other realisation to leap off the wall was that there’s nothing to look for outside of myself - the playbook for my life had already been downloaded. If I want to consult someone for advice or learn from someone better I can, but the desire begins with me and the direction of travel is determined by me. It is incumbent upon me to manifest my ambitions and whether I believe I can do something or I believe that I cannot - I am always right. Knowing this was very empowering. I found this liberating.
When you follow what you love doing, reciprocated passions will find you. It is this feedback that puts us where we need to be. There’s no longer a need to ‘fit in’, we’ve found ourselves. Love the life you live and live the life you love.
I was lucky to find boxing. And in order to live the life we love and love the life we live, we have to engage, take a risk and explore before we can land on a place that reciprocates our gifts. To anyone yet to ignite their passions, it can happen at any turn. Just keep saying yes to things that feed you, however small or obscure.
With nothing to look for outside of yourself, be you. We are all limited editions, with limitless possibilities. Know Yourself.