Muhammad Ali was a great boxer, but I think of him as a man who lived an inspiring high-performance life. His fight record, the difference he made in the world, and the motivational words he left behind serve as a reminder of this.
Maybe I see Ali this way because I’m not a boxing fan but I am passionate about personal development. Or maybe it’s because the man born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., who died on June 3, 2016, lived in such a manner that it made an impression on me.
If you aren’t convinced he was a great role model for high performance, consider the following well-known quotations from Ali:
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
High performers know that opportunities represent work. They also know they must apply themselves to the task at hand and practice long and hard to become the best at anything. They don’t balk at the struggle; they honor and embrace it knowing it will help them achieve their goals.
It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
What’s the pebble in your shoe? What takes your focus away from achievement of the goal and places it onto the challenges you encounter along the way to achievement of that goal?
In this quotation, the pebble could represent any weakness or challenge you think holds you back. However, the real pebble is the negative thoughts you think and the limiting beliefs you hold. Additionally, if you choose to focus on the difficulty of the challenge or the duration of the process, you make the journey more difficult. High performers focus attention on the end result—reaching the summit—instead of on the bothersome and painful thing they must endure as they scale the mountain.
It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.
One of the primary differences between a high and average or low performers lies in their level of belief in themselves. They rid themselves of any thoughts that cause self-doubt, low self-esteem or the possibility of failure. The affirm over and over again “I can do it. I’m good enough. I am the best.” Eventually, these affirmations become not only their truth but the truth.
High performers also know they can change themselves. They can become whatever they desire—more productive, courageous, present or energetic, good role models and leaders, or influencers and authorities in their field. They are not stuck with character traits given at birth. They can choose traits and incorporate them into their daily way of being in the world and with others. They know they can create the vision of their best self.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
The value and benefit you offer to those you encounter make the difference in the quality of life you live and the legacy you leave behind. Ali will be remembered not just for the great fights but for how courageously he served the world. He stood up for what he believed, and, in the process, fostered racial pride and peace.
Do you help or educate others? Do you inspired and motivate those you meet? Are you a mentor?Have you taken up a cause? No matter what you do with your life, you can revolve it around service. Doing so allows you to transform others’ lives as well as your own, and high performers courageously influence those around them in positive ways as they serve.
Don’t count the days. Make the days count.
High performers know that being present changes everything about your day and how you live your life. While most of us live in the past or the future, they remain in the moment, focused on whatever is before them—a project, a person, a workout, or a sunset. They also focus their attention in the time they have. They don’t allow distractions to get in the way of achieving their potential or fulfilling their purpose. In these ways, they make the days count.
Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion.
High performers don’t place limitations on achievement. They know that no matter what the world throws them, they can overcome it. And they know they can make a positive and meaningful impact on the world. They don’t allow the opinions of others to negate their dreams or goals. Instead, they dream and live big, take responsibility for their psychology, physiology, productivity and ability to make a difference, start movements, and live on purpose. In the process, use their own personal power to change and conquer their lives.
And if you still aren’t convinced Ali was a high performer, just let his words inspire you to live up to your potential and fulfill you purpose. That’s what high performers do, and it’s the effect they have on us!
What Muhammad Ali quotations inspire you most?
Photo credit: Public Domain