5 Business Lessons I've Learned from Martial Arts
Find out how learnings from martial arts training can bring fruitful returns in your place of work.
Martial arts is… well, an art. There’s something inherently raw when stepping into the ring. Not only does it give you a certain strength of character. You share moments of exhaustion, desperation and pain with a diverse range of people. Everyone is training for similar reasons: from fighting to fitness to philosophy.
The people I’ve met from competing in Muay Thai have been dedicated, disciplined and passionate. We all spoke the same language without saying anything. These are all traits I believe we can carry over into our professional lives, which is why I’ve found five quotes from the martial arts world that I believe can help us all to be better versions of ourselves.And who better to start with than the legend himself, Bruce Lee?
“Be water, my friend.”Bruce Lee
Nothing is set in stone. Don’t limit yourself by thinking you have it all figured out. Be open, be flexible, be adaptable and be prepared to work in situations that may push your boundaries. When I was training in Muay Thai, I was grateful for any training partner that came my way – no matter the level of experience. You have something you can learn from anyone.
Being open will expand your horizons. Even the most experienced can gain wisdom from the newest recruits. Respect your colleagues by utilizing their capabilities. Don’t feel constrained to your area, don’t assume you know everything.
Even the most experienced fighters can be taken by surprise. In these instances, you need to adjust your tactic. I remember the first time I got hit in the face – everything slowed down, while my brain was trying to process what had just happened.
I remember thinking: “ok, this is what it feels like.”I remember shaking it off and getting back on my feet. My point is that you don’t have to have everything figured out. Be prepared for anyone and anything.
Life is good when things are easy. What is going to make or break you is how you handle a downfall. What are you going to do when things get tough? What are you going to do when you get hit? Don’t give up. Take a moment, reassess the situation, and then get back up. I love it when people challenge me. Hit me as much as you can; the only effect it is going to have is that I’ll get better and better.
I had all the talent in the world when it came to playing tennis. As a junior I competed on a national level in Germany. I was provided with all the support by my parents. At the age of 17 I decided to quit – I just didn’t have the heart. I wasn’t hungry enough, I wasn’t fierce enough.
Fast forward 10 years later, and I find my love for Muay Thai. I had little natural talent. But this time I had the heart. I had the love for the sport. I had the ambition. I worked hard. I practiced everything over and over again. I ended up competing on an international level and succeeded.
In the end, hard work beats talent – anytime, in my eyes! Ideally you are that natural born talent (read: killer) that likes to work hard. You will stand out in the crowd and turn your gift into exceptional qualities.
Practice, practice, practice. When I first started martial arts training, I would spend hours after training practicing the same roundhouse kick over and over again. It was frustrating, but I fought through that emotion. It made me the athlete I turned out to be.
What did that teach me? Strive to be as good as you can be. Be focused and don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple. Sometimes you only need a couple of tools versus ten of them.
“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.”Muhammad Ali
This series would not be complete without a quote from “The Greatest” – Cassius Clay. One of the most exciting fighters, moving effortlessly, it seems like he is dancing. He is graceful, while being ferocious.
You can be decisive and assertive in your professional life, while staying open and collaborative. We spend most of our lives at work, let’s make the most and best out of it. Be positive, be creative – win!