Three Lessons Mixed Martial Arts Has Taught Me About Being Successful

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By Arvin Patel

For those who know me well, you know that mixed martial arts is a passion of mine. I currently serve on the board of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, home of two-belt UFC champion Daniel Cormier, UFC lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, and former UFC heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Mike “Quick” Swick, to name a few. Head coach and former champion Javier Mendez is a fierce competitor, and training with him has pushed me further physically and mentally than I ever thought possible.

In addition to incorporating more physical activity into my weekly routine, MMA training has also taught me lessons that transcend the octagon. So, in honor of my American Kickboxing Academy brethren, I wanted to share three traits that have benefited me in the workplace and set me up for success in business. While not new, if you truly focus on embodying these traits I think you’ll find that you’re better set up for success as well.

Preparedness

You never know what your opponent is bringing into the octagon, which is why preparing for as many scenarios as possible is a crucial part of MMA training. If you don’t prepare before a match, you will be at an extreme disadvantage in not being able to quickly expose your competitor’s strategy and associated counter moves; ultimately, their exploitation opportunities. In that same light, preparedness is essential to having a meaningful negotiation. Being prepared before you get into a meeting is critical to advancing your position — have your goals for the meeting set, outline your ideal outcomes. I once heard Jesse Jackson speak and he said, “Be the best you at every moment.” To me, this means being well prepared is the foundation to advancing any strategy and objective. That’s resonated with me throughout the years. At every moment — whether you’re in the ring or at the office — you need to be the most prepared.

Adaptability

The ability to adapt on the fly is a valuable trait in a business environment where technology is quickly changing how we interact with customers. The individuals who fail to succeed in times of change are those who keep going back to old methods and dated ideas that no longer apply in today’s reality. In a match, your signature go-to knock out head kick may not work on the next opponent who is quicker than others. You’ll need to quickly adapt your moves to something else. To quote Michael Singer, the untethered soul, “In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same and learn to embrace change at all times.” Some of the biggest failures for companies is their inability to adapt to market dynamics. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Netflix have remained successful because of their ability to keep up with change. Assessing a changing environment in real time and responding appropriately are necessary to stay in the fight and maintain success in your professional life.

Perseverance

Lastly, perseverance is key. If you get knocked down during a match, you need to shrug it off, stand back up and reposition yourself. The hard work and preparation you have done will keep you going, and that goes for business as well. It can be a hard truth to remember in today’s world where we often expect instantaneous gratification. Just remember, everyone in the workforce experiences setbacks, it’s how you respond that will ultimately define you.

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