It looked just like any other overhyped boxing match of recent times.
The older guy who had already made a tonne of money being challenged by the younger guy who was also looking to make…a tonne of money.
But to many of us it was about so much more.
A lot of guys will often say that their wife doesn’t understand them and, at 4 am on this particular morning, my alarm was telling me that I was about to become one of those guys.
As I shrugged off the disdain coming from ‘her’ side of the bed, I prepped a vein into which to inject neat coffee. Opening the laptop, I hit the link that I’d bought to watch the fight and crawled under a blanket on the sofa.
I was ready.
‘This could be the greatest fight ever!’ I thought as I struggled to keep both eyes open.
The fight was between two masters of their craft, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor and whenever you see masters at work you should be respectful, stop what you are doing and pay attention.
Even if it means getting out of bed at some ungodly hour.
If you missed it, don’t worry – I got up early so you didn’t have to.
This is what I learned.
1. Learn to See Risk as ‘Opportunity’.
Why did Mayweather, who had everything to lose, choose to fight McGregor, who did not?
We are all affected by loss aversion which is to say that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of winning. This means that we tend to avoid a loss more than we seek a win.
So if Mayweather had so much to lose, then why fight at all?
The 40 year old, multiple world title holding yet retired, Floyd Mayweather was 49-0 undefeated in his professional boxing career when challenged by the 29 year old reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion, Connor McGregor.
Mayweather knew that to lose to McGregor would, not only make a mockery of his illustrious career but probably damage the sport of boxing forever.
But if there was one thing that Mayweather loved more than titles it was money and he stood to make a cool $100 million dollars from the fight, win or lose.
Secondary to the money, in Mayweather’s mind, a win against McGregor would also mean that he would beat the record set by the legendary Rocky Marciano – who himself had retired with a 49-0 pro record.
‘My legacy. My boxing record. Everything is on the line.’ – Mayweather
McGregor on the other hand was likely to earn $30 million from the fight just for turning up.
Everyone expected him to lose but what a story it would make for him either way!
Both men knew that taking risk was what made them different. They knew that they might be embarrassed should they lose but they would always be respected for taking the chance. They saw risk as opportunity when everyone around them preferred to play it safe.
Ask yourself which road you would have taken? The safe one that your friends expected you to take or the risky one that might just alter history.
‘Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?’ What Steve Jobs said to Pepsi executive John Sculley to lure him to Apple.
If you are ever stuck with which decision to make, take the risk; it will make you grow and will always make for a great story when you’re older.
2. If you Decide to do Something, go ALL-IN early.
In the early rounds of the fight, McGregor came out of his corner with his traditionally aggressive style. It was, some commentators thought, the only real chance he had of beating Mayweather.
In fact, he landed more punches on Mayweather on his professional boxing debut than Manny Pacquiano had done two years previously, and in two fewer rounds.
‘It was a good fight, I thought I smoked you in the early rounds but I tell you what, you are one composed individual.’ – McGregor
McGregor landed 26% of the punches he threw as opposed to 19% by Pacquiao prompting Mayweather to acknowledge after the fight, ‘He is a lot better than I thought he was, he used different angles and was a tough competitor but I was the better man tonight.’
‘A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.’ – General George S Patton Jr
If you know that you have a challenge ahead, go all out at achieving it – you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish and how many people would rather just get out of your way.
3. Make a Plan.
As Patton says in the quote above, a plan doesn’t have to be a five volume epic but you do need to have one. A plan lets you identify future stumbling blocks and lets you rectify them early.
Conor’s plan was the only one he knew. He was up against the world’s greatest defensive boxer, he was out of his depth and he knew it. The only chance he had was to fully commit early and get Mayweather unsettled.
‘You didn’t get rattled, you tucked in when you needed to tuck in, you switched up your game plan three times.’ – McGregor
But Mayweather’s plan was taken from the Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman, ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, ‘rope-a-dope’ playbook from 1974. Knowing that McGregor was a hard hitter but unaccustomed to conserving energy in the explosive MMA matches that last a maximum of 5 x 5 minute rounds, Mayweather’s team formed a plan.
‘Our game-plan was to take our time, let him shoot all his heavy shots early on and then take him down at the end, down the stretch. We know in the MMA he fights 25 minutes real hard and after that he starts to slow down.’ – Mayweather
You won’t know when you’ve achieved something without having a goal and a goal without a plan is just a wish.
4. Keep Moving Forwards.
When Al-Qaeda operatives were captured and interviewed in 2015 they said that the most difficult thing about fighting in the towns of Southern Iraq was that the US military never stopped coming forward. This meant that, if an Al-Qaeda unit engaged US forces then they would have to retreat immediately as they would never be able to hold onto the ground they were occupying. The US forces would commit to the attack and not regroup until the hostile area had been taken and all combatants killed.
Psychologically, this had a huge impact on the insurgents. If they did engage the Americans, they would receive an overwhelming weight of return fire from a military force that would never stop until they were all killed.
Mayweather unknowingly employed the same tactic against McGregor, a fighter new to the sport of boxing and who would probably wish to spend a few rounds finding his feet.
Traditionally, UFC fighters have been respectful of McGregor’s devastating left fist and would choose to keep their distance. Many remember the fate of Jose Aldo who was knocked out by a huge McGregor left in 2015 after only 13 seconds.
The knockout was the fastest finish in UFC title fight history.
‘Again, nobody can take that left-hand shot,’ said McGregor in the post-fight interview. ‘[Aldo’s] powerful and fast. But precision beats power, and timing beats speed. And that’s what you saw there.’ – McGregor
Mayweather knew that the only chance McGregor had was of an early upset and he wasn’t going to allow the newcomer to settle. Every time McGregor threw a punch, Mayweather would just keep his gloves up and walk forwards into him. He knew he would take some hits but that, in the long run, it would demoralise and tire the newcomer when his punches failed to have the desired effect.
‘I told you guys I was going to come straight ahead, with coming straight ahead I was going to take some contact. I could’ve just sat back and boxed and made it boring, I didn’t want to do that I thought I owed the fans a last hurrah.’ – Mayweather
Even in the dark times, keep moving forward – when a shark stops swimming, it dies.
5. Be Hard to Kill.
‘When they knock you down, you get up and ask for more!…There’s one formula, all you gotta do is start and stay hungry!’ – Ed Dunn, Head Coach, Martin Luther King High School, ‘We Could Be King’ documentary
It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has fought Connor McGregor that the only way to truly stop him is to put him down.
‘I thought it was close. I get a little wobbly when I’m tired, it is fatigue, the referee could have let it keep going, let the man put me down. Where were the final two rounds? Let me wobble to the corner and make him put me down.’ – McGregor
How easy is it for people to stop you in your tracks? Maybe it just takes a disrespectful comment from your partner, a snide remark from a work colleague or a harsh post on Facebook to get you riled.
Build yourself some mental armour and let the negativity bounce off you – Rise above the noise!
Remember, small talk is for small people.
6. Always be the Student.
In McGregor’s early fighting days, how much do you think a sparing session with the greatest defensive boxer in living memory, would have cost him financially? Do you think it would even be for sale, Mayweather probably had never even heard of the young Connor McGregor a few years ago?
McGregor grew up watching men like Mayweather, they were idols to him and to get the chance to fight him would have been a lifelong dream.
‘I’m a student of the game and I’ve studied Floyd and it was an honour to share the ring with him.’ – McGregor
Study your heroes, find out how they got their first break. Write to them, offer to help them, follow them on social media and emulate what they do.
Watch and learn – always be the student.
7. Only Diversify when you have Established a Solid Core Skill.
Many young people see job-hopping as a way to build skills and to eventually secure the job they want. The problem with this is that they never get good at any one thing because they never secure a core skill.
McGregor established himself as a UFC world champion before striking out into the boxing ring. He had an authenticity, an established provenance and a background that he could always fall back on.
Although he was taking a risk, no matter what happened in the boxing ring, he could always go back to MMA.
‘I will get back into my jiu-jitsu and freestyle wrestling training and we will see what’s next. I have many options in the sport of MMA.’ – McGregor
What are you known for, what is your core skill?
If you don’t immediately know then you are probably thinking at too shallow a level. For example, it would be easy for me to think that my core skill was as a military fighter pilot and flying instructor but over the years I’ve used the role to consume complex ideas about human performance and make them digestible to people who wouldn’t otherwise read them.
Now I coach individuals and companies to help them to build purpose and authenticity in what they do and all because I developed a core skill that allows me to also work outside of the cockpit.
Bonus point! – Humility Goes a Long Way.
No matter what you do, be respectful to everyone you meet. My father was a police officer for 37 years and during that time he was never assaulted by anyone. Ask any police officer today how many times they’ve encountered conflict in their job and they are more likely to be able to count the times when they haven’t!
My father always said that the reason he was able to remain unharmed was because he treated everybody the same way, always called them ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ and never did so with a condescending tone.
And that’s because he meant it.
Humility goes a long way in establishing rapport with someone; if you attempt to dominate a person from the outset you will be met with the same in return.
‘It was an honour to come over and showcase my skills.’ – McGregor
McGregor was certainly outboxed but, even though he is well known for being outspoken, he was humble in defeat.
And, remember to enjoy the experience – there really is no other reason for doing something!
‘It was a good fight, it was a bit of fun right, ha, ha, ha!’ – McGregor
One last thing for those who are under-confident and full of self-doubt. Listen to the true Grand Master and get out there and take some risks!
‘Daniel-San, lie become truth only if person wanna believe it.’ – Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid
Thanks for reading – What did you see from the fight that helped you improve yourself, let me know in the comments below!