On 26th February 2013, my life changed forever when I met Katie Taylor, the best female boxer in the world. She is the current reigning Olympic, World, Irish and European Champion. I was at a Conference in Dublin, where she closed the day in a Session entitled “Conversations with Katie.” She was interviewed on the stage sitting on a high stool opposite her interviewer and you could hear a pin drop in the room, as she spoke. I think I forgot to breathe most of the time as I listened to her wisdom.
My life changed for two main reasons:
1. Without a shadow of a doubt, I had just gained invaluable insight into how a Champion delivers and sustains high performance, that I could put into practice in my own life and share with my clients, and
2. Her message of “I just want to be the best I can be” connected at a very deep level to my heart and my mind. Like a laser beam, that message, which she repeated over and over again in her interview, directed itself straight to the core of me and seemed to call and draw the very best of me into being. (And yes, it is thanks to Katie that the strap line for my business is “Be the Best You Can Be.” I made the decision, there and then, that it would be my mantra and guiding force).
I went up to meet Katie afterwards with tears in my eyes. I was truly star struck but in the sense that I felt I was meeting a “star” in terms of demonstrating good old fashioned hard work – you know the kind where the ingredients are dedication, persistence, unfailing commitment, complete self accountability, humility and unquestionable results. I felt I was standing beside the epitome of what a modern day warrior is and can be and for me she embodied everything that I knew I could be – that we all can be. In a moment of inspiration I asked her to write the following for me
Be the best you can be!”
and she signed it
Katie Taylor x”
This is framed in my office (beside the photo above) and serves as a constant source of inspiration for me when I need to find grit and determination to stay in the fight ’til the final round, in my own life!
I’m not even sure why I haven’t written about this before now, considering the impact her words had on the practices in my life, but the time definitely feels right to do it now and to share with you what I learned and what has helped me to continue to commit to showing up to be the best I can be, in as many moments as I can, day in day out.
Here are the key messages I took away (and have been trying to practice ever since):
1. Do what you love doing
Katie talked about the importance of doing what you love. She said that it is a “privilege” to be able to train everyday and to do what she loves doing.
For me, there are two messages in here; one is that it’s easier to commit when we are doing what we love. And the second is that it is a mindset. See your work as a privilege and show up to love what you do.
Are you doing what you love? In your life – both professional and personal? Find or rekindle what you love doing and then commit to doing it, like a Champion.
2. Be the Best You Can Be – One Performance At a Time
Katie talked the whole way through her interview about being the best she could be. She talked about this in a way however that I could see how I could implement it in my own life. It’s easy to look at Katie Taylor, you see, and focus on her legendary results, and then think to yourself “I could never be an Olympic or World Champion” and then divorce or separate yourself from achieving results in your own life. But what I heard on that day was a dedicated human being, showing up to be the best she could be, to deliver her best performance at every training session (and she trains twice a day, six days a week!!!) and at every fight and not only that but in everything that she does. So, it is this unrelenting focus to be her best, in all moments of preparation that leads to her results.
We can easily apply the same modus operandi. Sure, it makes complete sense – how can you expect to deliver exceptional results without preparing exceptionally? You can’t show up for example, on the day of an exam, a presentation or an interview and be your best if you haven’t given your best in your preparation for that. Can you? No!
You can only show up and be your best on the days that it counts, if you have consistently been showing up to be your best in all moments of preparation for it. So, think about this…why not commit to making your life your Olympic sport and show up one performance at a time to be the best you can be?
3. Control the Controllables
Katie talked about boxing being an individual sport and as such that you only have yourself to blame if you don’t perform. She reiterated that the only performance that she can control is her own and so that is how she prepares.
This is the same for us though, isn’t it? Life is an individual sport but all too often, we point the finger outwards to blame others – members of our family, our boss, our team, circumstances, government, society – when in fact, the fundamental truth and the ultimate practice is to take 100% accountability for our performance and our subsequent results, because we are 100% responsible, always.
4. Continuous improvement
Katie talked about the importance of continuous improvement and how she simply wants to be a better boxer. She talked about having a “No-Excuses” mindset and when someone in the audience asked her “Surely Katie, there are days when you just don’t feel like getting out of bed?, she replied “There are some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed but they’re the days that are most important.”
Now, that’s a true champion – getting up and doing it anyway, no excuses!
5. Inner strength and spirit
It is known all over the world that Katie uses scripture and God to give her inner strength both in preparation for and in fights. She said “When/If I do get anxious, I turn to scripture.”
What struck me here is how she has an internal stabilising anchor through God and scripture so that if she feels any inner turbulence or anxiety (as any normal human being would going into the ring, no matter how much they prepared), she directs her attention to God for inner strength and peace. So many of the clients I work with tell me how worried they are about their chaotic minds, unruly thoughts and distractions in their lives. But it is all a matter of directing your thoughts, energy and action to a stable internal source and this is why meditation and mindfulness are so common and impactful now. They help train your mind to pay attention in a singular and specific way and prayer is the oldest form of all meditation – as Katie demonstrates, helping to steady the mind and spirit for battle.
Well Katie Taylor, thanks for being such a source of light, hope and inspiration to me, to Ireland and to the World. And if you ever get to read this – please know that on many occassions since I met you, you have inspired me to get out of bed, to do the things that I said I would do – like early morning exercise – and especially, on the days when I don’t feel like it! 🙂
I hope this has been helpful for you and that it will inspire you into action – the way it did for me.
Until the next time …
Bí chomh íontach is atá ar do chumas.
Be the Best You Can Be.