Category Archives: Leadership
In this episode of In The Fight we follow amateur boxer, Phil Parrish, as he attempts to beat the odds and win the Olympic Boxing Last Chance Qualifier Tournament in Cincinatti, OH. Will he overcome the impossible and win the tournament or is it too much too soon for this young boxer?
Written and directed by Erik Charles and Bobby Gorham, In The Fight takes you behind the scenes as people from all walks of life battle their demons, overcome obstacles, and meet personal challenges to accomplish their goals.
In the end, we learn that success is not the smoothest road to travel but what we become during the journey is what matters.
I’m really proud of how this turned out and hope that you enjoy it. Please leave us some feedback after you’ve watched it. Enjoy!
I can’t throw a curveball to save my life. I have two left feet on the dance floor. My sense of humor is practically laughable. I’m a hair stylist’s worst nightmare. I have zero athletic ability. And I can barely strum a guitar.
Who am I?
Like everyone else, there are thousands of things you cannot do. Focus on what you can do and want to do, and then … go about doing them well. You will surprise yourself.
In the neighborhoods where I spent a good portion of my childhood, I was the only white kid that I knew, other than my sister. Everyone else was black or Puerto Rican. As you can imagine, I stood out like a sore thumb and my sister’s big mouth didn’t help me either.
“My brother knows Karate and he’ll beat you up,” she used to say. I think she still says it.
I remember the bullies on my blocks mocking my Karate and beating me up to the sounds Bruce Lee used to make in his movies. And honestly, I didn’t know anything about Karate except for the two books I would constantly check out of the school library, one was a cartoon book and the other was a making of Enter The Dragon book or something like that. Telling people I was a Green Belt in Karate was supposed scare them so they wouldn’t mess with me. The bullies on my block couldn’t care less about what color belt I had, what I knew, or who I knew.
There was one incident that happened in the backyard of my Mom’s friends house while we were visiting her. While my Mom and her friend smoked cigarettes and tried to come up with the next winning lotto number, these kids came over and started a fight with me and my sister. When my Mom and her friend noticed this, they came out to help us. Not only were these kids not afraid of adults but they started throwing rocks at us.
I would pray every night for God to get us out of there. By this point in my life I had seen people get shot, including my own mother and quite honestly, I didn’t believe in God, but since nothing else was working I figured I would try it … just in case He was listening. I even made my sister start praying with me every night. As the prayers went unanswered I became more and more resentful of my mother for putting me in this situation, of my sister who kept getting me in trouble with her mouth, and of being different.
I hated my life. I didn’t know how to stop all of this. I was thinking about suicide as early as 7 or 8 years old.
If only I was black. Being black was something I would sit back and fantasize about. If I was black, it would be easier. My Mom’s boyfriend, who was black as well, would laugh when I would tell him that I thought being black was easier. Then he would follow with a lecture of how tough it is to be a black person in America.
I didn’t care about living in America. For all I knew, we were in Viet Nam. There was fighting everywhere. At home, at school, at the playground, in the corner store. Yes, in the corner store. I actually got into a fight inside the store.
No, what I cared about was fitting in. I cared about being able to go to the store and not getting into a fight. I cared about learning my times tables in Math and not having to figure out who I was going to have to fight that day.
Plus, I wanted a kick ass name like my friends, Jamarico and Tamika. Ha. I’m serious. That really did cross my mind as a benefit to being black.
It was crazy though. I had constant anxiety and constant fear with no help in sight. I was falling behind in school because I would either not go or if I did go I was more concerned about protecting myself than learning what 6 times 7 was.
By the time we moved out of those violent neighborhoods, I was violent, physically and verbally. I was violent towards my brothers and sisters, my Mom’s boyfriends/husbands, classmates, and even school officials. At Southern Cayuga Elementary school my desk was literally inside the Principal’s office. I had become something I hated most, a bully.
When I started my Martial Arts training, I was hoping to learn how to beat up multiple people at once. You know, just like how Bruce Lee would do it in the movies. Little did I know that I would find a mentor and a Father that would teach me not only what it was to be a Martial Artist but what it was to be a real man.
I was in awe by Sifu Kevin Seaman. He could beat up anybody he wanted to but he didn’t. He was respected and had this power that he didn’t abuse anybody to get. People looked up to him, volunteered to do things for him, brought him gifts on his birthday. I know, this sounds like I’m describing a scene from one of my favorite mafia movies but this was the real deal. No guns and no violence.
He was an example to me that articulating your feelings, communicating honestly with others, and solving problems in a non violent way wasn’t just for pussies. It was what real men did, powerful men.
These skills were difficult for me to develop; like learning how to multiply when you’re in 5th grade and should have learned it when you were in 2nd grade, but I did it. I learned how to solve problems, not create bigger ones. I learned how to build people up, not break them down. I learned how to take the negatives from my past and make them positives. And even though I do lose my temper on occasion, this is my daily focus.
The point is, I’ve been on both sides of bullying and what I have learned in those experiences helps me, help others, every day. So now that you’ve gotten through the longest introduction to a how to article ever … let me ask you to stay focused for 2 more minutes and read how to handle either side of bullying behavior.
If your child is a bully
The first thing you have to understand is that you have to address this. Do not think ignoring your child’s bullying behavior will make it go away or that it will get better on it’s own. If bullies are not taught more appropriate ways to solve problems, they become abusive parents, spouses, and bosses.
You also have to set the boundaries for acceptable behavior and accept no excuse from your child for not staying within those boundaries. Bullies give us all kinds of reasons why they did this, why they did that but there is no excuse for abusive behavior, period.
There needs to be consequences for abusive behavior as well. Apologizing is not enough. They use abusive language, they lose their phone priviledges until they can demonstrate that they know how to speak properly and respectfully. Let them know up front that this is the consequence of using abusive language.
Later, you can discuss with your child better ways to handle the situation that got them into trouble.
If your child is bullied
The best thing you can teach your child is not to respond to bullying, to get away. Most bullies will be less likely to pursue them and will move on to someone who is an easier target. Teach them to avoid bullies, if they can.
They also need to know that if avoiding them doesn’t work, they need to get help from somebody who is more powerful than the bully, like you, a teacher, or police. Your child should not have to fight because someone else is abusive.
Getting hit in school is assault and you parents out there that are reading this shouldn’t back off when it happens. Make the bullies parents have to go get their child at the police station. See if that doesn’t wake up the bullies parents to their child’s abusive behavior.
Teach your child that fighting back isn’t always about throwing a punch. Be encouraging. Help your child work through the situation. Give your ideas to them. Don’t just step in and take over. Then your child will feel helpless on both sides. Can’t deal with the bully and can’t work through things on their “own”.
Finally, let your child know that if this bullying doesn’t stop and/or the situation doesn’t improve, you are going to step in and protect the innocent whether it be your child or someone else’s.
It sucks to be bullied. As a parent, it is your responsibility to provide a healthy environment for your children. There should be zero tolerance for violence and zero tolerance for bullying; in your house, in their school, and in the neighborhood. Demand it and support it.
Find a good, reputable Martial Arts school, like CNY MMA, and enroll your child. A good school will help bullies learn better ways to achievement, recognition, and solving problems than abuse. And that same school will teach your child ways to avoid bullies, what to do if they are bullied, and how to protect themselves if it becomes physical.
You have to do it. To function. Everything you do from the moment you wake up is a gamble. You hope you’re making the right decisions about everything. How you’re raising your kids. The direction that you’re leading your company. Your strategy for coaching. Your trust. Your love. What you say in a blog.
I think the key is not in taking risks; we all do it everyday, but in being willing to accept wherever the path of your decision takes you. Sometimes it’s greener pastures. Sometimes … it’s not.
I will say this though, risk is where the glory is. It’s where your soul mate stands. It’s where that perfect punch lands. It’s where your heart is tested. It’s the foundation of everything.
You have to take a chance with your heart to experience great love. You have to leave your face vulnerable to hit your opponents, to defend yourself. You have to be put in a position of weakness to find your strength and your mettle.
Life is a gamble. You risk everything, everyday. It’s the thing we practice the most: taking chances.
Take the risk you wish you had. Make the RIGHT decision. Raise your kids the BEST that you can. Make work suit you, not the other way around. Teach your students that fighting for something is what we all have in common.
What makes somebody extraordinary at what they do? What are extraordinary fighters made of? How do entrepreneurs, who seem to start out with so little resources, excel and create multi-million dollar organizations? There are many factors that contribute to the success of people in all walks of life.
One of those common traits that successful people have, from martial artists to millionaires, is the ability to use the resources, tools, and techniques that they have at the time, and to use them effectively. They constantly strive to get the absolute maximum result possible from their efforts.
I have an 81 inch reach. That is a considerable “advantage” when it comes to combat sports. I can hit you, you can’t hit me. The only reason that this is an advantage is because I make it one. I could have all the reach in the world and it would get me nowhere if I didn’t use it effectively.
Sometimes students will say to me “if I had your reach I’d be able to …” and I have to stop them. Saying “you just have the reach” is an excuse for you not performing at your best. It’s an excuse for not using your tools and techniques effectively. The problem with this type of “excusitus” is that it robs you of the opportunity to improve, because you’re not measuring your performance you’re making an excuse for it.
Many years ago, during a sparring session, I got whacked around by someone who had much less experience than I did. After the sparring session I was extremely frustrated. Why did this person have their way with me? I had no excuses. I was younger, quicker, I had the reach, and had been training almost as long as this person. I had also been in the ring a couple of times compared to zero for the other guy. So what was it? What was the “secret”? As I pondered over this question for several weeks I finally realized that there was no secret. That person had just used their tools better than I used mine, period. It was a simple, yet powerful realization. This lesson helped stop me from developing my own “excusitis” and made me a better Martial Artist and business person. You see, your abilities are not based on what other people do or have but what you do with what you have.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of Bruce Lee’s most famous students, definitely had the reach advantage on Bruce Lee. I’d be willing to bet that Kareem never had the opportunity to say “Well, Bruce couldn’t hit me because I had the reach on him.” This is because Bruce Lee is famous for using what he had to get the maximum result. His footwork was phenomenal and even though he was small he could generate tremendous power from a very short distance. He maximized his tools, techniques, and resources.
Think about it, what makes a technique, a tool, etc. valuable? It’s your ability to use that tool or technique effectively. And the more effectively you use your tools and techniques the more valuable they are, in martial arts, in life, and in business.
In the nineteenth century, before the invention of the internal combustion engine, crude oil was a problem for land owners. If you were “unfortunate” enough to have crude oil discovered on your property the value of that land actually went down. We had no use for crude oil, it was a nuisance.
Then came the internal combustion engine, and the automobile, and the petroleum business. Suddenly, there was a huge market for crude oil because somebody made it useful. Now instead of it being a problem it was an opportunity and if you were “fortunate” enough to have crude oil on your land you were a, soon to be, very rich person. My point is that in order for something, anything to be effective or valuable, you have to know how to use, use it, and use it at the right time.
Knowing what to do with your tools is as important as having the tools themselves. Don’t get caught in the approach of making excuses for why your tools are not working and why someone else’s are. It’s the hardest way to learn and develop.
This way of thinking reminds me of people who are always trying to get “enough”. It never works because enough is never enough. You have to know what to do with “enough”. In fact, when you know what to do with what you have, you’ll discover that you already have enough. It’s a very powerful concept. It frees you from the dead end approach of making excuses and takes you to the next level of producing results.
So focus on ways to use your abilities and tools better and more effectively. Focus on improvement. Focus on growth. Focus on refining your skills and tools to the point of where you are getting the absolute maximum results from your efforts. It’s the best way to grow and learn, and since learning is internal only you can choose to do it.
Constant self discipline is not easy. At any given moment, the “easy” way of leisure and fun is the most effortless choice. The rewards are immediate. It is easier to spend the day at the lake than to spend the day working. It is easier to sit in front of the TV than it is to go to martial arts and practice. In the long run, however, the easy way leads to mediocrity. The easy way is only easy in the beginning. In the end, the easy way is a lot harder.
A life of effort and self discipline is more difficult on a daily basis. You have to get out of bed when sometimes you would rather lie there and sleep. You sometimes have to go to class when you really don’t feel like it. It isn’t always fun. But you end up accomplishing something. You make progress in your life. All those days spent working and disciplining yourself will eventually pay off.
Just imagine how you would feel, knowing you could have had success, accomplishment, and/or wealth, but didn’t do it because you chose the easy road. Just imagine the depth of pain you would feel when you no longer have the energy or the opportunity to make something of yourself. Wouldn’t you rather pay the small price of self discipline now, and look back at a life of accomplishment? If you don’t do much, nothing much gets done. Your life gets nowhere.
There will come a time when your classes may seem too hard or too boring or too easy. I know this because I went through all this myself. Believe it or not, I tried to quit martial arts on numerous occasions. I thought I had received all that martial arts had to give. That was twenty years ago and I was barely a green belt (equivalent to a blue shirt at CNY MMA).
The only reason I didn’t quit was due to words of my adopted father, Sifu Kevin Seaman. He told me that quitting was not an option that I could exercise. This was a test unlike any rank test I’ve ever participated in. That martial arts was testing my personal self discipline and this was a test that I needed to pass. Plus, he had a knife.
I was focusing on the easy instead of the productive. The immediate gratification rather than the long term gain. Can you imagine if I had actually quit 20 years ago?
The late, great motivational speaker and business philospher, Jim Rohn, talks about the pain of discipline versus the pain of regret. Either way, he says, you pay the price. You can choose to pay the price of discipline now, today, and every day. Or you can choose to pay later with the price of regret. He points out that the price of self discipline is pennies and the price of regret is a fortune.