You don’t need to be a combat sports fan to get value out of these 10 lessons. I hope you find them valuable.
1. Don't expect support
One of the first things that comes up in Ngannou’s story is the lack of support from his community and even his family.
"I had problems with my family because I was a dreamer."
A boy from a village in Cameroon wanted to become the heavyweight champion of the world. He was called a dreamer. And anyone reading this who has dared to dream big and share their dream with others knows that being called a "dreamer" is rarely intended as a compliment.
Throughout the conversation, both Ngannou and Tyson return to the fact that, if you decide to pursue your dreams, you shouldn’t expect support and understanding even from your closest ones. And both of them conclude that you shouldn’t judge them for the lack of support. It doesn’t come from a place of ill will, but from a fear of failure.
2. Losing is not trying
"The loser is the guy who didn’t try. If you tried and you don’t make it, you are not a loser."
Ngannou explains why he stayed determined despite the lack of support. It all comes down to the attempt being more important than the outcome. It’s about being at peace with yourself, he says. If you don’t even try just because others said it was impossible, how could you ever be at peace with yourself?
3. Actually living
This is something I write about often. Are you actually living? Or is your fear of making mistakes keeping you on the sidelines of life?
"My life is full of mistakes," Tyson says. "But I didn’t just stand and do nothing. I did something."
Anyone who is at least a little bit familiar with the life story of Mike Tyson knows that he made some terrible mistakes throughout his life. But when it’s all said and done, he took a chance on this strange experience called life. Some make more mistakes than others. Some make more serious mistakes than others. But no one has this life all figured out. And what’s better? Never making a mistake or never giving life a try?
4. Calling yourself out
Ngannou had a dream of being a heavyweight champion of the world since he was around 12 years old. He left school when he was 17. When he was 22, he asked himself,
"What exactly did you do for the last 5 years?"
He realized that he had done nothing to move closer to his dream. He called himself out. It was time to either start pursuing his dream with everything that he’s got or settle for what he considered a nightmare: living the same life like everyone around him.
5. Putting things into perspective
"Being homeless in France was the best moment of my life up to that point."
I think this one is important because Ngannou deserves credit for remembering where he came from and being able to appreciate different stages of his life. Some would say it’s natural, but I would disagree. People get used to better things in life pretty quickly. He could easily speak of being a homeless illegal immigrant in France with a tone of self-pity. But he recalls it with a smile. That’s not something a lot of people would be able to do.
I also think this is important because people could use it to put things into perspective. There are people out there for whom being homeless in a first-world country would be a major step up in life. Just something to think about.
6. Love yourself
As Tyson says,
"You have to love yourself to treat yourself right."
Tyson is one of the biggest advocates for loving yourself that you will ever have the chance to hear speak. Why? Because he spent most of his life hating himself.
He talks about how you have to believe that you deserve all the success that you’ve achieved. At the height of his boxing career, he says, he believed that he didn’t deserve anything he had. He started believing this inner voice that was coming from a lack of self-love. And, as he says and as his life story proves, this kind of mindset can only lead to self-destructive behavior.
7. "Discipline is doing what you hate to do but do it like you love it." - Tyson
"Doubt should be eliminated. You should be a doubt annihilator. You should kill doubt in your mind, in your soul, and in your heart. Kill it. Fight it every day." - Tyson
9. "Greatness is scary. That’s why a lot of great people don’t make greatness. Because they are afraid of it." - Tyson
10. Don't let a loss discourage you
"I refuse to lose. Even losing matches, I refused to be discouraged. Nothing will discourage me from reaching my goals. You cannot let something like a loss discourage you. Great people don’t let loss discourage them, they let it influence them. A loss should influence you to be better." - Tyson