The Fighter’s Mind

A Mind for the Fight

A Fighter's MindWe are all fighters. Life is a fight. A struggle. This is what many of us fail to realize. In so many ways we have become quite comfortable, even those of us who are failing in life are doing so comfortably – we are not threatened by starvation or abject poverty – we are “losing” in life amidst the comfort of big screen TV’s, takeout pizza, air conditioning and material abundance. Many of us are unhappy at the deepest level, but we bury the urge for change. We are propelled by the need to pay our bills and distracted by a cornucopia of novelties, pleasures and escapes. Time keeps ticking as we pass our lives away inside these velvet cages.

What we want and most desire is possible. The cage door is not locked. We want change but fear stepping outside – into the unknown – into the possibility of failure. We are waiting – desperately – for someone to open the door for us, assure us that it is safe, to pave a way toward our dreams with no threat of failure. We believe that change comes from the outside – from someone or something (a new law, a new leader, a new “revolutionary” pill, book or program,  a new job, the lottery) – and spend our lives enviously dreaming, waiting, watching and lamenting those “lucky” ones who are living their dreams (at least from where we are standing – you never really know).

You must be willing to fail in order to grow, to become everything you are capable of being.

Attainment of our dreams and desires requires persistence, heart, courage, conviction, discipline – you have to be willing to FIGHT for it!

That is the essence of life, it is “the fight.” It is why I love MMA – no long-term contracts, no security, and no pension – pure, raw life. Work hard, fight hard, learn and show up – everyday – and you will grow. If you also have talent, you may even succeed. No guarantees. That is the truth of life. We live in a world that craves security. What a fighter knows is that there is no security – you must forge your heart, mind and body every day in preparation to earn your way.

The Utopian dream of a “fair” world runs deep in our minds. We want tenure, pensions, health care benefits – we want to be cared for by our government or employers (anyone, really!). Why? So we can live as children. If someone else carries the burden of responsibility – then we are free to focus on our fantasy football league.

Those who truly succeed in this life do one thing before anything else – they accept full responsibility for their lives. The beauty of MMA is that NO ONE can help that fighter when the cage door closes – they are either prepared or ready to do battle – or not. What most of us fail to accept is that this is true of life. We are either ready for what the world is going to hand us – or we are toast. This lack of acceptance of reality has, in my opinion, led to the explosion in mental illness and addiction – people overwhelmed by the world and lacking the tools to deal appropriately either shutdown or hide – it’s like a collective PTSD.

The fighter’s mind is forged through effort, through loss, through discipline and mentoring. The ability to survive – and thrive – begins when we acknowledge what we do not know and willingly engage in the process of learning and accept the long struggle to knowing. You might get your ass kicked a time or three, but learn from it what you need and move on.

Movies have made us believe that we can overcome our demons in 90 minutes. The reality is that it takes years – possibly a lifetime – to defeat the enemies within.

That is the nuts and bolts it all. If you want to succeed – be humble, patient, and willing to accept defeat. Be open to learning and disciplined in the pursuit. No magic bullet. No secret trick. Just hard work and dedication.

I have been a member of the mass mind for all of my adult life. As a child I held a sense of honor – I would fight for my principles – I would not think in terms of winning or losing, but of right and wrong. If it was wrong I would step in and take a stand. As an adult I have lived in fear – walking the line of “safety” – unwilling to take a stand – waiting for “someone else” to step in and make changes – to save us (me). I have been depressed, anxious, afraid, confused, angered by “unfairness,” resentful, envious and mostly discouraged.

I have decided to change. The Fighter’s Mind has helped me see that the fight is worth it. I must surrender the outcome and be at peace with the struggle – to accept it as my foe and become dedicated to its defeat. Embrace the struggle!

A Fighter's HeartIt is in the work that change occurs, not in the desire for change. If you are one of those people who has read all of the self-help books but remains mired in defeat – this book is a worthwhile read. You will see that there are no new ideas, no insights that will bring change in your life – it is only disciplined, courageous effort in the face of your demons.We all want an easier way out- and many profit by promising us one – but none exist. The Fighter’s Mind provides insight into what it really takes to thrive in life. Read it, and its companion, A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting, and you will have a clear vision of the “struggle” and of what real hard work and dedication look like.

Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.