The Most Valuable Lesson I’ve Carried With Me: Never Stop Fighting
The following is an excerpt from N6A CEO Matt Rizzetta’s upcoming book, Embrace the Pace: The 100 Most Exhilarating Lessons Learned in a Decade of Entrepreneurship. Click here to be notified when it is available for pre-order before its official release on March 1, 2020.
In the early 2000s, when I was still in college, I competed as an amateur boxer. This culminated in March 2005 when I found myself in the Copacabana on the west side of Manhattan, competing in the quarterfinals of the New York Golden Gloves, the most prestigious amateur boxing competition in the state.
I was just two fights away from making it to Madison Square Garden, the most legendary arena in the world, for a chance to win the Golden Gloves title in my weight class. I had a sizable cheering section of family and friends, all of whom traveled far and wide to watch me fight. I had trained so hard for the fight: an intense, six-month regimen of daily jogging sessions at 5 o’clock in the morning, ring training and sparring battles at Morris Park Boxing Gym in the Bronx, and a maniacally strict diet of egg whites, fruit and water. All of the sacrifices from the prior six months were finally going to pay off for me on that night. I was convinced that I was going to win and I would go onto Madison Square Garden for a chance to win it all.
Then it all ended in one minute and 47 seconds. I had been knocked out, ruled out by a standing eight count from the referee. My dream of competing at Madison Square Garden was over in less than the amount of time it took to listen to a Missy Elliott song (she was at the top of charts that year). So was my boxing career.
That was the last time I ever stepped foot inside of a boxing ring. Three months later, I graduated from college, started my career and left behind my boxing dreams for good.
It’s been almost 20 years since that knockout loss in the Golden Gloves, but some of the most valuable lessons that I’ve carried with me in my career to this day come from my experience in a boxing ring.
The most important one? Never stop fighting.
Just like in boxing, in your career the outcome is never in your control, but the effort always is. As disappointed as I was that I lost the fight that night — I still think about it to this day — I am proud that I never gave up. I made the sacrifices, put in the daily effort and work required, and fought until the bitter end when the referee ruled me out.
I’ve had much bigger and more significant losses in my business career than I did in my boxing career. Through it all, I’ve learned to never stop fighting. I will always get up for the next round. So far, unlike in my boxing career, there has yet to be a referee who has counted me out in business and told me the fight was over.
I’m not proud of all the outcomes that I’ve produced in my career, and I’ve been far from a perfect person at times, but I am proud that I have never stopped fighting through it all. I know for a fact that, if I had stopped fighting at times, my entire career trajectory would have turned out differently. I probably would have given up on business much sooner. I likely would have stopped trying to scale when it became painfully stressful. I also have the same commitment to my direct reports. I will never let them stop fighting, no matter how difficult it gets at times.
Who would’ve thought that one of the most valuable lessons I would learn in my business career would come from a minute-and-47-second knockout punch in a boxing ring? But in fact, it did.
Maybe that punch didn’t hurt so much after all. Never stop fighting.
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