Being a native New Yorker, and Puerto Rican, a love for boxing has always run through my veins. On the surface, the sport could seem barbaric to the naked eye, but for someone like myself who looks for the poetry in motion beneath the surface, there are lessons boxing can teach us.
Truth be told, boxing was one of my earliest teachers of resiliency, self-efficacy, and more importantly, the visual embodiment of courage. Whether you are a fan of the sport or not, we can appreciate the essence of boxing: invite challenge after challenge after challenge after challenge in search of the pursuit of excellence.
Early in my career as a coach, when I noticed it was time to challenge myself to deepen command of my coaching skills, to challenge my range and ability to create impact for a diverse clients and their needs, to go from working with first-level leaders to leaders of leaders, I did what boxers do when they are ready to transition from one weight class to another – took a hard look in the mirror.
Looking at Yourself in the Mirror
When boxers ready themselves to move from one weight class to another, they have to take stock of their current skills and gaps because their cultivated strengths are conditioned to their former weight class.
It doesn’t mean they will be unable to carry their strengths with them to their new weight class. However, it does require an honest assessment of what is and what isn’t present followed by a committed effort to hold themselves accountable in pursuit of overcoming this challenge to in pursuit of excellence.
Anything short of this, and any venture into a new “weight class” can end miserably or in a “TKO.”
The same holds true for the professional coaching. When coaches are readying themselves to transition from one domain of coaching practice, for example, working with specialist role contributors to another domain of practice like working with first-line leaders or leaders of leaders, they must take a long hard look at their current coaching skills and identify areas where they need to strengthen their command of it in service of their coach development and expanded effectiveness as a professional coach.
Anything short of this, and any venture into a new domain of coaching practice can also end miserably or, at the very least, result in stunted growth for one’s coach development.
Putting in the Work
Not unlike our own clients from coaching, who benefit from the support of a qualified professional to help them navigate challenges or transitions to achieve their goals, we as coaches must employ the same deliberate intention to meet the demands of our new professional coaching domain of practice.
At times it may call for new training[s] to be on-boarded and exercised. Other times, it may call for the support of a mentor coach or practice with experienced, mature, and “battle-tested” peer coaches.
Whatever the need[s], there is no escaping “putting in the work” to hone our craft as coach practitioners in pursuit of excellence, and depending on where you are in your coach development journey, mastery.
Anything short of “putting in the work” and we may have been deprived the opportunity to witness a light-heavyweight Cassius Clay go from winning gold medal at the Olympics to become Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time.
” The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali