In Australia's Etihad Stadium Saturday night, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm reached stadium status before a record crowd of 56,214. In the process, she shocked the world by defeating Ronda Rousey, who had been undefeated up until that point.
There’s a lesson from the UFC’s biggest upset for every entrepreneur: stadium status performers believe in themselves when no one else does. You have more in common with Holm than you may realize.
She was a huge underdog (16-1) coming into the fight. Holm’s upset of Rousey is being compared to Buster Douglas’s 1990 upset of Mike Tyson. Both Tyson and Rousey were seemingly invincible and victory appeared inevitable. Meanwhile, both Holm and Douglas were huge long shots. Aren’t we all?
What many don’t realize about Douglas’s upset over Tyson and Holm’s knockout of Rousey is that they were competing for a higher purpose than just winning. Every great performance and achievement is dedicated to a higher purpose.
Douglas dedicated his fight against Tyson to his mother, who was on her deathbed in the weeks leading up to the fight.
Holm is aptly nicknamed “The Preacher’s Daughter,” as she grew up the daughter of a New Mexico minister. In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Holm’s father was asked what values he instilled in his children. He responded that the number-one value was hope.
Are you instilling hope in your people?
Holm’s faith guides her both spiritually and professionally. Leading up to the fight, Holm had a mantra she would say to herself: “Everybody’s beatable.” What I’ve seen hold many entrepreneurs back is what I call “post-traumatic faith disorder” -- a lack of faith in one’s self after getting knocked down.
How do you respond when you get knocked down? Do you get bitter or do you get better? Unless you have a higher purpose than winning, you’re never really going to win big.
I've seen this play out in my own career. When I was coaching, every year on the first day of the season, I asked each player to share what or who he was dedicating the season to. The depth of thought to the answers usually varied, but in 2002 my dad died the week before our season started and the tone of that first team meeting was a little different. I dedicated my season to my father.
Following my lead, each player took the activity to heart and dedicated the season to a loved one. In my mind, it's no coincidence that in 2002 we went to the NCAA Final Four and had our best season ever. Our hearts were filled with passion and we were committed to a higher purpose.
Who or what are you dedicating your performance to? Do you have a higher purpose than merely winning? Each of us has a higher purpose inside of us, that one thing that stirs our passion, shapes our convictions and keeps us committed in the face of adversity. Yours could be a family member, a cause, a burning desire to change something or prove something to someone.
That exercise I did with my teams is now something I find incredibly effective in my work with organizations. I give them guidelines, ask each employee to think on it and state to the group who or what they dedicate their performance to. It brings about a lot of emotion for the individual but the biggest benefit is that it brings the members of the organization closer together. You're not just working to honor someone, now you are learning about people and events that have shaped the lives of your colleagues.
Just like Douglas and Holm, in our professional lives we all fight for something. Unless you’re the Nike or Apple of your industry, you’re an underdog. You need to recognize that the fight is won before you step in the octagon, so to speak. It’s won by maintaining hope in spite of evidence to the contrary. The key to persevering through adversity in our fight is remembering why we are fighting. When you have a strong enough why, you'll find a way how.
There’s an old expression in sports that “The game is not played on paper.” The same holds true in business. This is precisely why you’ve got to believe when no one else does.
As we enter the late rounds of 2015, don’t count yourself out. You have a shot to take down your competition as well even when the odds are stacked against you -- because everybody's beatable.
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