A Lesson From “The Greatest” on the Importance of Surrounding Yourself With Positive People

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

Self confident people have three things in common.  They are optimistic.  They face their fears and act.  They surround themselves with positive people.  In several previous points, I’ve made the point that mentors, by definition, are positive people because they are willing to help others grow and achieve.

The other day, Gary Tomlinson, of Women’s Edge Magazine, told me a great story.  In essence, it was Muhammad Ali’s response to the question, “what is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?”

Here is it is Ali’s own words…

“It was February 25, 1964, in Miami.  I was Cassius Clay fighting Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title.  He was the strongest man I’d ever fought.  Every time I hit him, it hurt me worse than it did him.  I gave him everything I had.”

“When the sixth round ended, I was completely spent.  I couldn’t raise my arms.  I couldn’t stand up to go back into the ring.  ‘I’m going home!’ I told Angelo Dundee (Ali’s longtime Manager and Trainer).  ‘I’m not going back in there!’”

“Angelo Dundee pushed himself into the ring and screamed at me to get ready for the seventh round. ‘I can’t do it.  I’m going home,’ I said.  Then the bell rang.  Dundee pushed at me and screamed, ‘Get in there and don’t come out until you are the Heavyweight Champion of the World!’

“I struggled to my feet and the rest is history.  Sonny Liston didn’t answer the bell, and I became the champion.

“Most people might think that my greatest lesson was, “Keep on keeping on.  Make one last effort.  Get up every time you’re knocked down.’  Those are all true, but they aren’t the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned.  The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned is to have someone pushing you and making you do things you don’t think you can do.”

Gary found this story in “The People Principle” by Ron Willingham .  I want to thank him for sharing this story with me.  I also want to encourage you to check out Women’s Edge magazine.  Go to www.womensedgemagazine.com.  The information and ideas that Gary and his partner, Slee Arnold, pack into every issue apply not just to women but to anyone interested in creating a successful life and career.  Check it out.  It’s a dynamite print magazine.

The common sense point to Ali’s story is simple.  Your mentors, if they’re good, will believe in you.  They will push you to accomplish things that you don’t think you can.  If you take their pushing as encouragement, you’ll find that you will be able to accomplish many things that you never thought possible.  That’s why I believe it is really important to find mentors who are willing to help you on your way.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to
www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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  1. Bud: I had the privilege of having such mentors in my life – my dad and my bosses pushed me to a level where I would’ve never reached otherwise. True it wasn’t easy as I went through each of those phase; but looking back, I can say that, that was the best thing that happened to my life.

  2. Joseph:
    Thanks for your comment. I, for one, am constantly amazed at how much smarter my father is now than when I was a teenager.
    Besides that, if a mentor won’t push you, he or she is not helping as much as he or she could. The best mentors I have had have been pretty tough on me. When I asked why, they told me that I wasn’t hard enough on myself, so they had to be. That was some pretty sobering advice.
    Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your input.

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