What Boxing Can Teach You About Career Success


This writer/fighter knows first-hand.


Everyone’s a slashie these days. I know a writer/yoga teacher, IT guy/Uber driver, and a graphic designer/creator-of-realistic-looking-flies (for fishing baits – true story).

I’m a slashie, too: writer/amateur boxer. And, as weird as this sounds, the skills I’ve learnt fighting in the ring have helped me with my career, too. It’s not just that people I work with now joke about being too scared to piss me off, in case I’ll go green with Hulk-style rage in the workplace. The reason I love boxing so much is that it’s helped me build an inner strength that makes even the biggest career dramas seem trivial.

Let me share what I’ve learnt in the ring, so you can save your pretty face.

You have to put the hours in to see the results

Us millennials are constantly accused of wanting to run a company within a few months of starting a job. Why? Because we know we can do it better. Obviously. While that might be the case for some of the prodigies out there, if you had to swap places with that person in charge, you might quickly discover you’re missing a whole lot of skills and experience needed for the position.

“It sucks when you’re told your work isn’t good enough. In these cases, give yourself permission to wallow, bitch and yell, but once you’ve indulged enough, you’ve got to keep going.”

I learnt this lesson in 90 seconds, with a knee to my head, punches to my face, and a choke hold in the mixed martial arts cage. (This was before I decided boxing was the better path for me.) I was against a girl with four years of fighting experience while I had only trained for seven months. The promoter had organised a totally mismatched fight.

Now with boxing, I’m matched with women who have had similar experience. When my coach thinks I’m ready for a challenge, he gets me to fight in tournaments. Each experience builds upon the last – if you’re a video game fan, think of it as completing each level before getting to the final challenge. Some people might speed through the ranks, but others might take much more time getting to the same spot. However long it takes, you train hard, you fight, you learn from your mistakes, you get better. Repeat. That’s the formula. There’s no shortcut to success.

Shit’s going to happen, but you have to get up and keep going

It sucks when you’re told your work isn’t good enough. It’s shattering when your job’s made redundant. It’s disappointing when you’re overlooked for a promotion and your boss can’t even do you the courtesy of explaining why. In these cases, give yourself permission to wallow, bitch and yell, but once you’ve indulged enough, you’ve got to keep going. As many a motivational enthusiast likes to quote: It’s not about whether you get knocked down, it’s about whether you get back up again.

Read More: How To Give Yourself A Pay Rise As A Freelancer

Boxing forces me to practise this lesson daily during training. Unless you’re freakishly talented, you’re always going to get hit. It’s just part of the game, but you can’t just stop when that happens, because your opponent will see the opportunity and keep on advancing. Instead, you’ve got to dig deep, as my coach says, and find that part of yourself which refuses to give up. Marathon runners know this, so do people who love CrossFit.

It’s an even harder lesson to learn with a loss, especially in amateur boxing when the decisions can be controversial (even the Olympics aren’t immune, with the suspension of all 36 boxing judges involved in the Rio Games). To put all your heart into a fight, all the hours of training and sacrifice, and then not get the win can be heartbreaking. But you learn from your mistakes and continue to show up at the gym every day.

Success is all about resilience. Find a way to build yours.

Visit Lizza Gebilagin’s personal website.

Lizza is a Sydney-based journalist and boxer.


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