Fear & Hope. Failure & Success.

These are the ingredients of your life.

The Most Amazing Boxer Ever

I met an amateur boxer at a party a few years ago. He seemed like a nice guy, quiet, maybe even a little shy. We were making small talk, and I started asking him about boxing.

“So… how many fights have you been in?”


“Wow, that seems like a lot! What’s your win-loss record?”

“Believe it or not, my record is 0 and 86.”

“Oh… you mean, you’re undefeated?”

“No. Just the opposite. I have 0 wins, and 86 losses.

Holy shit!

I think my jaw probably dropped for a second. Zero wins and 86 losses?!

I didn’t know what to say.

On one hand, I felt bad for this guy because I realized it must really suck to lose 86 times in a row. Especially in a sport where losing means someone is punching you in the face.

But then I thought about it, and I realized that this was the most impressive win-loss record I’d ever heard of.

It wasn’t impressive because he was a good boxer, clearly. It was impressive because of what it said about him as a person.

The most amazing thing is that he didn’t make excuses about losing all the time. He didn’t seem disappointed at all. I could tell he loved being a boxer. He just seemed… hopeful.

I tried to put myself in his shoes. I tried to imagine what it must have felt like right before his first fight. Feeling nervous, but excited. Hoping for a win. Of course, he didn’t win. He lost. I’m sure it was disappointing. Maybe he even got bruised up a bit.

But he didn’t quit. He wanted to try again. So, he fought for a second time, and lost again. But he didn’t quit. He kept going.

Imagine what it feels like to lose at something for the third time in a row. How would you feel about going for more?

What about after 10 losses? Or 25 losses? 50?

Imagine being beaten 85 times in a row and still stepping into the ring for your 86th fight. Could you do it?

Look At Your Heroes

As kids, we’re sort of taught to admire people who are the best at something. We look up to champions, world-record holders, winners.

Your favorite athlete probably wasn’t the one who lost 86 times in a row.

Of course, it’s easy to look up to someone who is the best at something. Being great at anything takes dedication and practice and determination; and no one gets a free pass to the top.

But… being the “best” isn’t all great, either, because someone else can take it away from you. Think about that. It’s a dangerous thing to tie your self-worth to something that can be taken away.

Science says that being the best (or trying to be the best) will actually stress you out more than it will help you. So here’s a better idea…

Stop comparing yourself to other people. Instead, focus on something you can control. Something attainable that you can do every day.

Just focus on getting better and not giving up.

At whatever you do. Writing or sports or art or relationships or singing or cooking or knitting. It doesn’t matter. Try to have a “get better mindset.” That means not worrying about whether you’re “good” or “bad” or the “best” or the “worst.” None of that is real, anyway. It’s not in your control.

You’ll be happier and more resilient if you just focus on being better than you were yesterday. According to research, a “get better mindset” will make you more successful too.

Fear & Hope. Failure & Success…

We’re taught that these things are opposites, but they’re not.

We talked about fear a year ago. Now I want to talk about hope.

Hope is NOT the opposite of fear. It’s the cure. It’s the strongest cure there is.

Hope is what keeps you going. It’s a mental act of courage. It’s also a choice.

Remember… Courage is the act of going toward your obstacles. That motion, going toward your obstacles, that’s how you cure your fears.

Hope means being willing to risk failure for a chance at your goals and dreams.

Not everyone is willing to do that. Not everyone is willing to risk failing; but you should be. Because failing is a crucial part of getting better.

Failure is NOT the opposite of success. It’s the path.

I’ve always loved this Michael Jordan commercial. It’s the best thing I’ve ever heard about failure and success. I was going to tell you what he says, but since it’s only 30 seconds long, I think you should just click and watch it yourself.

Pretty inspiring, huh?

Failure isn’t something to fear. It’s part of experimentation. It’s how we learn, and how we get better.

I think it’s amazing that so much of what we achieve in life comes down to our choices. The choice to have hope. The choice to be courageous. The choice to get better. The choice to never give up.

The choice to step back into the ring and keep fighting, even when the odds are against you.

Your choices are what define you. They’re everything.

So… What will you choose?

When I said goodbye to that boxer at the party, I shook his hand and asked him if he was going to fight an 87th time.

He looked at me with a giant smile, and said the bravest and most hopeful thing I’ve ever heard.

“Yes,” he said. “I fight tomorrow.”

Whatever the fight is in your life, I hope you will too.