Like most of the world, I was glued to the TV on Sunday morning for the “Fight of the Century” between crowd-pleaser Manny Pacquiao and undefeated bad boy Floyd Mayweather. And, like most of the spectators dotted along Boat Quay in Singapore and across the globe, I was in Pacquiao’s corner. Everyone likes an underdog story.
But, alas, it was not to be. Despite Pacquiao being the favourite it was pretty much universally accepted that Mayweather would remain the champion, and we’d all go home cursing the powers that be for not giving us our Disney ending.
However, despite the disappointment there were a few lessons that came out of Fight Night, particularly around leadership, inspiring others and terrible singing.
1. You can be admired, but not loved
I wonder what it feels like to succeed in your profession of choice, and get booed while you do it? As the cameras focused on Mayweather’s face as he stood atop the ring, expecting to be adored by his fans for taking the title (again), I am certain he looked hurt and confused. “Why don’t people like me?” I imagined him asking himself in that moment, forgetting (as many people have) about his appalling record as a woman beater.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao lost and is universally loved, proving that it’s not the destination you reach but the journey you take that wins people’s hearts.
2. If money is your main motivator, you’ll probably be rich
I hate to admit it, but it’s so often true that it can’t be ignored. The people who reach the top of their game, in whatever field, tend to do it by pushing aside all other factors except the desire for money. The wealthiest people in the world didn’t get there by being nice (necessarily) and they have more likely than not stepped over people, hurt feelings, burnt relationships and more in their ascent. Floyd “Money” Mayweather is a true example of this. Just check out his instagram.
3. You need to believe in yourself
In Mayweather’s 19-year boxing career, he has spent 18 of them as world champion. He was constantly told by people in the early days (his father included) that he wouldn’t amount to anything, yet he persevered. Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny his determination to succeed, with an unwaveringly arrogant belief in himself that he is “The Best Ever”.
4. You need to have a strategy to succeed
Mayweather’s win was no surprise. Even Pacquiao’s trainer said the Filipino would have to fight the perfect fight in order to beat Mayweather. Why? Because Mayweather is a strategist, and an incredibly good one at that.
He is an efficient fighter, throwing only the punches when needed. He knows he is phenomenally accurate, and all he has to do is spend a few rounds figuring out Pacquiao’s combinations and patterns before slipping in his lightning fast jabs when he’d calculated exactly what he needed to do. It didn’t take long. When the crowd erupted because Pacquiao pinned him against the ring a couple of times, Mayweather simply shook his head and spun away. He was expecting this, and it was part of his strategy. Everything about Mayweather’s approach was calculated and planned – and it worked.
5. Work with a team, stay grounded and remember it’s not all about you
Part of what makes Pacquiao so popular is his unwavering spirit and belief that greatness cannot be achieved alone. Being a leader – a true leader – is about inspiring other people enough that they want to follow your example. When Manny throws punches, you know it’s not about money or the title, it’s about doing something he loves for the team who works so hard with him and for his people.
6. Don’t fear failure or let it stop you
Pacquiao lost, but he is a winner in the eyes of millions. From an entrepreneurial point of view, his determination, focus and desire to get up and keep fighting is admirable, and an excellent lesson in business and leadership.
It is inevitable that you will fail at something, or many things, in the course of your life and professional career, but it’s not the failure that matters – it’s how you handle the outcome and what you do next that gets people’s attention, and keeps you at the forefront.
BONUS LESSON: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I’m looking at you, Jamie Foxx.
Jamie, I like you. You were transcending in the Ray Charles biopic and we all know you’ve got an impressive set of pipes on you. But please, don’t ever warble your way through “The Star Spangled Banner” again.
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