During my youth, nearly every mentor, coach or teacher I knew told me, “Nothing beats hard work!” True enough, I worked hard and my work ethic earned me a math degree when I was not the most talented mathematician and a world title when I was not the most gifted athlete. However, as many of us later realise, smart work beats hard work.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was quoted saying, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six of them sharpening my axe."
I usually prepare for a fight for 10 weeks and spend 20 to 22 hours each week in the gym. That time is split between conditioning, sparring, drilling and working technique in every martial arts discipline I train. It does not include sauna stretching, ice baths, film breakdown or any other supplemental fight preparation.
Over those 10 weeks, the time-on-mat totals between 200 to 220 hours. Championship fights are scheduled for five five-minute rounds. So if you do the math, I prepare eight hours for each minute I fight in the cage if the fight goes the distance. Let me say that again for effect: I train eight hours for every minute I fight in the cage.
By those standards, would you prepare 40 hours for a five-minute report at your place of employment? Although it is quite the sacrifice, having clearly defined motivation (see Part 1 of being a champion in life), changes sacrifice to passion.
After a loss, it is common to hear an athlete say, “I’m going back to the drawing board and I will work harder!” Interpretation: I did not give 100% effort training for this event. Personally, I would not be able to return to the gym to train harder for my next fight. My body would suffer and “working harder” with the same methods would only yield similar results.
With that, I invite you to check out my talk, “How To Be A Loser.” The title of the talk is a play on words dealing with loss and using it to move forward effectively.
Hard work is a key element to the life of a champion yes, but my mentors, coaches and teachers were wrong. Smart work beats hard work! The champion understands there are setbacks in life, but knows how to utilise those set backs to move forward productively.