I Am The Greatest – Confidence Lessons From Muhammad Ali

13 July 2016


I sent out an email a few weeks ago to which I got a sharp response from one of the recipients. They said I sounded “conceited” and that the email was “totally off putting”.

So I went back to re-read the email and try to understand where this person was coming from, and I began to understand. And then I had a thought that I had to share with you.

Be Your Own Motivation

I do accept that that sounds quite conceited and could perhaps have been worded better.

However, I also thought of one of Muhammad Ali’s greatest quotes,

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

This quote is important for business owners to understand, because what he is talking about is a confidence mindset, which is one of the key ingredients of success in business, not just sports.

Muhammad Ali is talking about the idea that you, as a business owner, must have the strength and belief in yourself to push yourself to the top if you really want to get there, no matter what others around you say.

In the end, no one else – not even your business consulting– is going to tell the world that you are the greatest. You are the one who has to do that for yourself, you have to motivate yourself, and you have to lift yourself up if you want to continue to achieve great things.

Beware The Confidence Vultures

This also links to another incident that happened to one of my business consultingclients recently. They had won an award and emailed their contacts about it. Someone replied to them with a tirade of why they were not good enough to have won that award. Obviously my client felt wounded and had lost all confidence in his product and business.

I explained to my client that there are some people out there that we refer to as ‘confidence vultures’. These are people who have learned that feeding off other people’s confidence can be a way to boost their own self-esteem.

As you climb in confidence yourself, you will face these people. There is no doubt that they will come out of the woodwork. You must be able to protect yourself, and that confidence that you have built, from such people.

The quote above from Muhammad Ali indicates to you how to do that: have the strength within yourself to say, “I am the greatest,” even when others try to tell you otherwise.

You can (and should) build your own confidence. And when you learn how to enter that cycle of building your own confidence, you can then push your confidence as high as you want it, regardless of what vultures swoop around and peck at you.

Remember, You Are An Iceberg

I have talked before about the Identity Iceberg. This is a concept I have used often in business consulting sessions to explain the idea of how what you show to the world – the “doing” that you do – is only really 5% of who you are. The “being” part of yourself – the skills, beliefs, values, and identity – is mostly invisible to those around you and often even to yourself.

And it is that 95% where you will find your strength and your confidence.

Not only that, but the environment in which you place yourself – the water in which you, like an iceberg, sit – dramatically matters in your personal and professional development. Continuing the metaphor of the iceberg, your environment can be warm and drain from your being, or the water can be a cold expanse from which you draw strength and continue to grow.

But unlike the iceberg metaphor, how the environment affects you is a choice that you can make. You can boost yourself and learn to absorb positivity from your environment, or you can allow the negative comments from those confidence vultures eke away at your strength and confidence.

You may not be able to control the environment itself, but as the adage goes,  you can control how you react to it.

Is It A Cultural Thing?

As someone who was not raised in Britain, I am constantly learning, understanding, and adapting to British culture. There are a lot of significant differences between India’s and Britain’s cultures I will tell you that!

What I find really intriguing is that the natural exuberance of Americans is often described by the British as “brash” or “gung ho”. Yet I must admit when I have witnessed such brawny positive attitude it is in some of the most successful and driven people I know.

Perhaps it is natural for the British to be more reserved and respond more deeply to those around them. But perhaps there is some small learning to be gained from our brothers and sisters across the pond in learning how to boost our own self-esteem as well.

Affirmation Becomes Conviction

In the end, Muhammad Ali constantly talked about self-motivation and about creating your own drive and creating your own success. I think that is why his words so often deeply resonate with me – his mindset is something I fully agree with.

I think it is only appropriate, then, to end this post with another of his quotes that all business owners should take note of:

“It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

What convictions have helped you build yourself and your business? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.

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There are 2 comments:

  1. Rorie Devine - 30th January 2021 at 11:18 am

    A good point well made thanks…

  2. Bob Morrison - 6th October 2021 at 8:52 am

    So long as brash, gung ho and super confident people can back up their self-confidence with competence and the ability to deliver on their promises then it all good otherwise, their misplaced self confidence may well make them a case study for students of the Dunning Kruger effect.

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