What Mohammad Ali accomplished during his "Rumble In The Jungle" in defeating George Foreman, we can also not do what Ali's willingness to creatively think afforded him, a hefty hand back in return. Not only some bucks, but the championship belt.
During my third and fourth grade years, my family uprooted to Louisville, Kentucky. To our surprise, we soon discovered the quick witted World Boxing Champion's mother lived less than one mile from our home. Ali was my dad's idol and such a realization mixed well with my father's assertive nature.
During one of Ali's visits to stay with his mother, my dad stung my brother and I with a sucker punch as he urged us to get in the car with his camera in hand.
"Why?" we asked.
"I know Ali is at his mom's house. I want you boys to meet the champ!" he firmly replied.
My brother hopped in and I, sadly, opted out. I was scared to be so crass as to go to this big man's childhood home. He had a tight schedule and limited time with his mom and, honestly, my dad's overly assertive manner embarrassed me.
My brother was game, I was entirely too tame! Like a domesticated AKC Terrier, anxiety struck my mind with deadly precision. Not jamming on Terrier bred dogs but my observation has been that they're rather wired for sound. Not all the time, but most of the time.
- Avoid using absolutes and assuming anyone is too important for your time. Obviously, within reason. What I perceived as a weakness in my father was his greatest strength. He killed fear by taking action in spite of it.
- Tune out what you really do have the ability to not allow in. My dad is retired military and has a big heart and with it, the penchant towards being critical when things aren't "squared away." My brother didn't like his terse approach but he didn't fight it. What I allowed to put me down, my brother allowed the same sharp edge to polish him up.
- Important people like Ali are often the people who need a father and son to show up and help them learn what they teach the best. Ali told my father that he was the "only cat" who was brave enough to knock on his momma's door. What I perceived to be rude, the confident big man who boxed and beat men down with his fists couldn't resist the same confidence of a man with a camera and his boy. Ali wouldn't have missed that moment for the world. How do I know? I am looking at the picture of Ali's big fist planted in good humor against my brother's left jaw. I have since learned that in order to be a champ you must be willing to hang with champs.
- Ali beat big George in Manila with his mind, not his might. My brother's an attorney and has won more cases of considerable currency than he's lost. If you learn from losing, it wasn't a loss. Ali flicked fast jabs at George, pulled his neck down as Ali did routinely, and told him he "swung like a sissy."
- George got mad, not glad and that's too bad! He lost his composure over being called a name he, at that time in his life, began to start believing after he'd whacked Ali with thunder shots that lacked proper aim. My brother does the same thing when cross examining a witness. "Once the guy starts taking my third person comments about him as I object my concerns to the judge, he'll typical go from hero to a zero in a matter of seconds. The jury doesn't like loose cannons." my brother has stated to me on a few occasions. Oh, there is a reason for redundancy or why your friends may be telling you something you've heard before like it is hot off the press.
- Anger isn't what failed big George Foreman. His ego got his fists started, but it was the cousin to the word anger that stopped the match in the eighth round. George Foreman feared Ali was right and those feelings soon became facts. Watch this emotional and cognitive trap as it is erroneous perception based off of inaccurate fickle feelings. If you've ever been one to score poorly on multiple choice tests because the right answer was erased because it seemed or appeared to easy to be true, you are painfully aware of what insecurity does. Ali knew what security and conviction in his speed of fist and wicked wordplay did to his opponent's brain without throwing a blow.
- Patience not only wins fights, it also builds rapport and develops character. Sports such as boxing reveal a person's character as much as they build it. If able and willing to get off the canvas, what is revealed is primed to heal a contrite and humble spirit. Humility is the key to true and unfeigned confidence.
Wherever you are in your thought life is subject to change as you are willing to admit you need to change. We're apt to blame the external for what's bugging us internally. As my writing pal penned, "Your circumstances will change as you do."
George Foreman got back in the ring and did what Ali did three times. He became the Heavyweight Champion of the World because he knew that failure wasn't fatal, and that his early successes were hardly final.
There is a reason for redundancy and note that, "There is a vast difference in feeling like a failure and actually being one."
Go knock on a door no one else has. How will you know? You'll only know after you knock long enough, often enough, and with a mom-sized dose of patience awaiting the door to open. People have peep holes. Don't doubt and if you must, doubt your doubts and not your beliefs or convictions.
Copyright © 2009 Brian G. Jett
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