5 Business Lessons I Learnt From MMA
Like many business owners, I often find myself spinning the wheel in the fast-paced day to day activities of running a business. Particularly with running a software company, I found that I was spending far too much time behind a computer screen tirelessly working on tasks and projects. When I eventually took a step back, I realised my mental health and physical health were completely compromised and a change had to be made.
I decided to do something completely outside my comfort zone and embarked on a 6-month Mix Martial Arts training program. I can reflect on the journey and reveal that I learnt so much more than just self-defence! Here are the 5 biggest business lessons I took away from the program.
1. Follow your passion
It probably sounds a bit cliche but finding something you are passionate about is so important. When business turns sour or doesn't go to plan there are only a few things which will keep you motivated and driven. My 6 month training camp included waking up at 4 am Monday - Friday for a 5am start at the gym. Countless times I would wake up tired or low on energy but it was the drive and excitement of learning something new that got me out of bed. When the chips are down, we often have nothing to drive or push us to keep going. That's until you find something which you truly love doing! A great business analogy is to ask yourself 'Would I be doing this if I wasn't getting paid?'.
2. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations
Ask yourself the last time you elected to put yourself in an uncomfortable or stressful situation. Like many people, before I started my MMA training, I don't think I had elected to put myself in a stressful situation. It's so easy to sit within your comfort zone and watch business and life tick over. But once I began my training, I noticed that by putting myself in a high-stress environment where I was well out of my dept, I was actually callusing my mind. Every time I felt anxious, nervous or uncomfortable, I was able to add another level or layer to my ability to deal with these emotions in business. Just like when we went to school, on a daily basis we would repeat the Alphabet or timetables until it became easy...And that's how I look at MMA training. It trains the brain to deal with and respond positively to stressful situations.
3. Surround yourself with people who are more skilled and experienced
Looking back at my 6 months worth of training, I can clearly identify where I learned and grew the most. Every time I was paired up with someone faster, fitter, stronger and more experienced than me, I would learn the most. I would react faster, see my own mistakes and learn from the skills my peers were using on me. Despite getting beaten or losing, I would learn so much from the higher ability of the other person. Just like in business, when you don't endeavour to grow or surround yourself with successful people you become stagnant.
4. Formulate a winning routine
Routine and planning is everything! During the peak of my fight camp, I was training 10+ a week and juggling my software development business. The one way I was able to manage this was by developing a killer routine. I would formulate everything from my training schedule, sleep times, working hours and meal preparation. Not only did this provide me with clarity but it made it easy for me to focus on the key task at hand. In fact, because of my packed schedule, I decreased my work hours and found that my performance actually increased.
5. Review and improve
In Martial Arts you often hear the term 'You win or you learn'. And it basically means that in defeat you are actually presented with an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, hone the skills, improve and go again. And in business, I think it is very similar. If you face a challenge or difficult situation, embrace it and see it as a chance to improve yourself and learn to overcome the obstacles. Very rarely do you see someone who is a master in all forms of Martial Arts and that's because you can always learn new skills, become fitter, fast and strong. The same applies to business, we always have an opportunity to learn. Enjoy and celebrate the successes but more importantly, learn from the challenges and mistakes.
With all this being said, the most important lesson I learnt was to live in the moment. So many people in business are chasing the rainbow and looking for the pot of gold at the end. During this journey I spent over 10,000 minutes training and for my fight in the Octagon to last only 2 minutes and 50 seconds... Yes it’s important to plan and goal set but I also understand that the journey is happening right now; enjoy it, embrace it and grow from it.