Excerpt from Fighting Your Demons 2020 edition
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” (Mohammed Ali)
Courage, Determination, and Will
These three words hold the keys to all personal power. When you can understand these words and see how much of each you have in your life, you will be able to conquer anything you want. You will be unstoppable, sensational, and masterful. All three qualities complement each other perfectly, and when they work in unison, you have the ingredients for greatness. Let’s break them down, understand what they mean, and see how we can get more of in our lives.
We can also describe courage as bravery, valour, guts, nerve, fearlessness, and spirit, to mention but a few. It means having the spirit to do new things and stepping up to the mark when challenged. When you master your courage, you can recognise fear and go forth to meet it head on.
Regarding boxing and boxing training, you will need loads of courage—especially if you are going to get in the boxing ring and battle for glory. Even getting to a boxing gym to start your training can take a great deal of courage. Hey, even just getting off your butt and doing some training will take loads of courage for some people.
There are an enormous number of reasons that people will lack the courage actually to get training. The fear of having to change or even going into an environment where you start off being one of the least fit or coordinated people in the gym can be too daunting.
You may feel that you have no skills in boxing or even the fitness to keep up with the rest of the people in the gym. This lack of courage will stop you becoming the very best you can be in your life—not just in boxing training. Remember that everyone in the gym was once that person, and you are not alone.
Stepping into the boxing ring takes an incredible amount of courage. I remember my first few fights and how scared I was; I was afraid of losing, getting out of breath and losing my strength. I worried about being hurt in the ring and also being embarrassed by a better boxer punching my head off. I was afraid I hadn’t trained correctly, and that I would not be good enough.
The truth is, once you have been there for a couple of days or weeks, you’ll see that other people have weaknesses too and wonder why you worried in the first place. You will never know until you have been there and tried it. Everybody is the same. We all have fears, and we are all insecure about something. You need to remember this. When you feel weak and out of sorts, you can guarantee that so are other people around you.
Later in my life, I had to rely on facing my fears and mustering the courage to get past many obstacles and life-threatening scenarios. I can honestly tell you that mastering the courage to do anything that makes you feel afraid is one of the most powerful life skills you can ever attain. When you do, you will be a stronger, more confident, and a much happier person. The key to success is in being persistent and consistent. The more you do things, the better you get at them, which is also very relevant to building courage, facing fears and being determined.
To understand a little more about courage, let’s break it down into two types of courage - Physical Courage and Moral Courage.
Physical Courage is what you will need in the face of physical pain, hardship or under threat of death—where there is a real chance of you being hurt physically. In boxing, this is a reality and one that must be faced every day when you go to the gym. The more you go and the more you face it, the less it becomes an issue. The inevitable outcome is that you become stronger and less afraid of the possibility of being hurt. Thus, in times of danger, you’re equipped to deal with the situation and remain calm when others are freaking out. Here is why boxing is a great training regime for self-defence and is a big part of the Royal Marines culture.
Think about it: How many boxers do you know who run around like headless chickens when danger is near? I don’t know many.
Moral Courage has the strength to act appropriately in the face of shame, scandal, opposition, or discouragement. When you go to a new country or city boxing, you will need lots of moral courage. I found boxing away from home easier because the crowd fired me up, and there was less pressure of losing in front of your home crowd. On that note, you need masses of moral courage when boxing on your home turf for that very reason. The fear of letting your supporters down on their home turf can be extreme.
Real boxing training will give you life tools to build yourself into a courageous person. It will develop your ability to confront fear, danger, intimidation and uncertainty, and it will set you apart from the crowd. When you get into the mindset of a warrior, you will strengthen your way of thinking and your body. You will look at dangerous situations and evaluate them, rather than seeing the danger and running away.
So, how do you master courage and be courageous?
I laugh as I write, because even today, I still have to exercise my courage. Although I do not fight anymore and am not in a war environment, there are many things that pop up from time to time that challenge me.
One example that springs to mind right away is how I feel in big waves in the ocean. I am not afraid to go into the ocean; I am in awe of the magnitude of power it holds. As I have mentioned before, since giving up fighting, I found surfing. When I entered the ocean for the first time and tried to surf, I found the experience to be breath-taking and exhilarating! I began surfing in Cornwall in England, the UK where the waves were pleasant and comfortable.
On my arrival in Australia, I soon learned that the ocean has more power in one wave than any man could muster in ten lifetimes. When the sea is angry and spits you out and roughs you up, you have no defence and are at its mercy. There is no time to slip a punch, or bob and weave. All you can do is hold your breath and hope that you’re not smashed so hard against a rock or the sand that you break every bone in your body. These experiences transformed my fear of the ocean into huge respect, and my preparation for entering a large wave has to be one of the utmost respect for the great power it holds.
I have taken many beatings from the ocean. The ocean will punish you for not being fit enough to dance on its waves, and it shows no mercy when you make a mistake. The ocean is a real champion and man will never defeat that!
Being hit hard on the head by thick, massive waves and almost knocked unconscious and being slam-dunked into the bed of the ocean is scary. Only then to be slam dunked again, thrown around in random directions and held underwater, while totally disorientated. When I finally came up for air, all I saw was the next wave coming to do the same to me again. It has left me fighting for my life and trying to get out of the set of waves crashing down on me. In those situations, I fear didn’t overcome me and I was determined to get to safety in a calm part of the ocean or on the shore. The fear I have of the ocean comes from the knowledge of what it can do and the limitations of my control over it. Thus, I respect it and know of how I can enjoy it and be safe.
The way forward is to be courageous and get out there; get on top of more waves, be successful in riding them, avoid making mistakes and minimise the chance of being caught out of breath. The only way I can do that is by paddling out there, getting on my feet, riding the waves with full confidence and being in the best physical condition possible. The more confidence I gain, the more I want to be out there on the waves, even though I know that there is a real possibility of being slammed.
When I lived in Brisbane, Queensland, I travelled to the Gold Coast often. I take about an hour to get to my second family in Burleigh Heads. My mate Vince Lawder used to own Worldsurfers.com, which was an awesome surfing website and a very cool surf shop.
Through Vince I had the honour of meeting Peter Harris (a one-time surfing legend), Michael Patterson, and Pete Townend, a few of the world’s best surfers and big wave riders. When I hear them talk about taking on monster waves, at Pipeline in Hawaii and twelve-foot swells at Kirra or Burleigh Heads, on the Gold Coast of Australia, I am so overwhelmed. The thought of being at the mercy of a wave, as big as a house, chasing me I tremble! They talk about it so eloquently and in such a matter-of-fact way that I listen in awe! I tell them I can’t even imagine how much courage they must have to tackle those big waves. They tell me how scary it was, but also say that they just had to do it. They were there, and it was their time and their destiny.
The funny thing is that when I would tell them stories of my times at war (in Iraq most recently) they would call me insane! I take that in my stride and say, just like them, that I was there, and it was my time—I just had to do it. I prepared myself through years of training for what I had to do, just as they had. Our experiences were entirely different, but our fear was the same, and the courage that we needed to be successful was the same courage from the same human source.
It just goes to show that sometimes you just need to get the job done. Muster up all of your courage and go for it. No matter what happens in life, keep trying and facing your fears. Courage is something that needs to be practiced because it takes a lot of effort to be courageous. Some things are easy, but others are hard; Some things may be easy for you, yet difficult for me, and vice versa.
The reason I have mentioned the above is so you can understand that what you learn in this book will not just hold you in good stead as a boxer. But will strengthen your body and mind so you can face all of your fears. No matter whether you are a warrior of the ocean, real wars or the boxing ring, you are a hero in the spirit of all things, and nothing is impossible.
Face Your Fears
When it is your time, you just have to do it! Build up the courage from deep within yourself and just do it. Don’t hold back. Just breathe deeply and go for it! Face your fears, with no hesitation, and trust in the decisions you make in life.
Once you have mustered the courage to face a fear or to change yourself, you will need determination to achieve your goals. Goals are personal and varied. Whether that is in the ring, or in the ocean surfing a wave. Even applying for a new job, preparing for an exam, asking someone out on a date or even if getting into the gym—your determination to succeed will be the key factor. You're either being someone who is “normal” or someone who is the “elite”, in your way of thinking, training, and the way you live your life. No matter who you are or how skilled, how overweight, strong, weak, or whatever you are, without a determination to succeed you will never change.
Decide what you want to do and Just Get On With It! Don’t look back; go forward and live in the moment. Recognise your fear, focus on your breathing, be calm, muster your courage and find a solution. You will find it. It is always there.
THANKS FOR READING
If you would like to read more about of Fighting Your Demons, you can buy a copy (at the moment on Amazon) which I will take down this year - and also from the website here under books.
However, if you drop me an email,
I can save you money and send you the copy for £5 or $6 paid directly to Paypal.
This way you will have direct contact with me to ask questions or get some further motivation.
Start 2020 off with getting your mind strong.