The world lost another legend last week. Muhammad Ali was not just one of the greatest fighters and sporting icons of all time, but he also spoke out and campaigned for civil rights, as famous for his inspirational quotes as he was for his skills in the boxing ring. As I read the news reports, I was reminded of many of Ali’s famous quotes and noticed how relevant his words were to businesspeople, especially to entrepreneurs.
Five quotes in particular stood out for me, so I wanted to share them with you and explain why I believe each one relates to a key aspect to building your own business.
1.“Don’t count the days; make the days count.”
This one is self-explanatory but easily overlooked. We so often find ourselves racing around and chasing our tails that we can easily forget about the present moment. What you do every day counts, and your actions today will always impact upon tomorrow, so focus on today and let tomorrow take care of itself!
2.“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
Selling anything begins with selling yourself. Your customers will only buy into your products and services if they want to buy into you (a key example of this is Sir Richard Branson; his personality drives the Virgin brand). We should never be afraid to shout about our successes as long as we shout with integrity.
3.“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
Likewise, business champions are not made in business schools. They are made along the road, in their hearts and souls, and out of blood, sweat and tears. They believe in something greater than themselves and are prepared to take the punches and keep on fighting.
4.“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
You can have the greatest idea in the world but without taking action (including calculated risks), you will never translate it into a tangible, successful business. Risk is scary for each and every one of us. Successful people do not achieve greatness without any fear of failure, they keep going despite their fears.
5.“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
In all of my training programmes, I work with students on their general mindset before we even begin looking at their business ideas. Without the right mindset, even the best idea will likely fail. You have to shift your mindset into the right gear for success before you embark on any project.
Businesspeople are no different from athletes. We also train hard and make sacrifices. If we want to be the best, we select the best people to coach us, we engage the right teams, we commit to what we are passionate about, we get focused and we put in the work. Only then will we see the desired results.
Rest in peace, Muhammad Ali, and thank you for being such an inspiration to millions—past present and future!