I’m not a big fan, but Floyd Mayweather was right… at least on this one thing.
As much as it pains me to say it, I gotta give credit where credit is due. Floyd Mayweather may be a deplorable human being in his personal life, but when it comes to the skill of boxing and being a clutch performer under the bright lights, you have to tip your hat to him. Having been a marquee fighter in some of the biggest fights in sports history, not just boxing history, he has remained undefeated in his long and storied career.
One of the things that Floyd did really well, likely better than almost anyone, is understand that the work is done ahead of time. When you do the work, log the hard miles, then you can relax and perform. Floyd was not a knockout artist, so he had to assume EVERY fight of his was going to go the distance. Ten, twelve, sometimes 15 three minute rounds is a really long time, and there is only one way you can be confident about being ready for that: DO THE WORK.
There was a famous story circulating for a while about how someone went to see Mayweather before one of his big fights at the end of his career, like a backstage pass sort of thing, and was being very respectful of Mayweather’s space and time in prep before his fight. Floyd would start a conversation with this person and after answering a question or two, would finish with “Well, I guess we should get going and let you do your thing…” and try to excuse themselves. Floyd wouldn’t have it, and finally he said “Look, I am either ready or I’m not. It’s too late to worry about it now.” That is a man who is supremely prepared for the event, and confident in his abilities.
What Mayweather had learned to do was to be most relaxed when everyone else would be at their most anxious. Instead of expending a bunch of energy before the fight, he was conserving energy by being relaxed. He knew he was ready; he had done the work to be prepared, and he trusted his skills to do the job. That is a tremendous lesson in preparing for battle. If you do the work, if you polish your skills, then you too can have the luxury of being relaxed right before your big event.
Another example of this was Marcelo Gracie, the infamous Brazilian Jujitsu practitioner. He grew quite a reputation as a fierce and fiery competitor at World Championship level tournaments. However, in complete contrast, many times he would be sleeping right up until moments before his next match. He had so much command over his mind and his emotions that he would be sleeping on the bleachers and someone would have to wake him to compete in his next match. By the time he got to the mat, he was in the right state of mind, calm and relaxed instead of hyped up trying to calm himself down. He could execute much more effectively in this frame of mind, and won many matches because of it.
So what is the takeaway from this? Start taking naps right before that big meeting you have with a client next week? I don’t think so, if you aren’t already doing that I wouldn’t suggest starting now. But, if you can get into the calm mindset in advance of a big event, then you are well on your way to peak performance. Getting out of your own way is the biggest improvement to high performance you can add to your arsenal. In most cases, your mind is making things much worse, not better. You have spent years learning and perfecting your craft, and yet your mind doesn’t trust your body to perform. It wants to control the uncontrollable, prepare for every possible scenario ever, and in the process paralyze you into poor performance. Once you have a poor performance, your brain is convinced your body should not be in charge, and it takes over from there. That will be your downfall for sure.
Get out of your head, turn your judgmental brain off, and let your skills take over. That is why you have spent so much time perfecting the things you do, so that you can do them without thinking about it. Quiet your mind and let the performance play out.
You are ready, trust the work you’ve done. Let go. Relax, and dance like no one is watching.