“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
- Elon Musk
Invention or creation is rarely easy. That’s true if you’re innovating within an industry, or reinventing yourself.
Your success is never assured. The vast majority of time, your efforts take place unseen and are never fully appreciated. Many people get started; some drop off along the way. Most reach a modicum of success and their drive levels off for understandable reasons.
A smaller few stay the course, and continue pushing further ahead. Because it feels like it’s what they were born to do. And because they often feel like they have no choice but to pursue their calling.
We typically think this is the realm of artists, poets, musicians and entertainers. Laboring for the love of what they do, and possibly for the chance to wildly succeed. But it’s also the realm of anyone – teachers, engineers, mechanics or chefs – who puts themselves on the path to mastery and fight to keep themselves there.
Manny Pacquiano has been on the path to mastery for much of his life. He’s come a long way and he has some words relevant to the fight in your life.
1. “I remember as a little boy I ate one meal a day and sometimes slept in the street. I will never forget that, and it inspires me to fight hard, stay strong and remember all the people of my country, trying to achieve better for themselves.”
Manny Pacquiao was raised in the Philippines and lived with his mother and five siblings in extreme poverty. He left home at 14 years old and moved to Manila. He struggled. He sold donuts. The first time he fought he made $1 and gave it to his mother.
He started his professional boxing career when he was 16 years old. Weighing only 98 pounds he was under the weight requirement, so he loaded his pockets at the weigh-in.
2. “I wanted to be a world champion.”
When the guys in the band U2 were teenagers, they’d gather for practice in the small kitchen of their parents and play (badly) songs from the Ramones. Their frontman Bono said that even when they were kids, they thought they could one day be the best band in the world.
Manny Pacquiao had a seemingly impossible goal from the most unlikely of beginnings. For some reason, he thought he could be world champion. He went on to win ten world titles.
3. “Life is meant to be a challenge, because challenges make you grow.”
4. “All those who are around me are the bridge to my success, so they are all important.”
Whatever your path, remember that along with years of woodshedding, it takes a team of people working together to effect change. The myth of the lone inventor, or the self-made success, is just that.
5. “I’m just a regular person who believes life is simple, and I like a simple life.”
Here’s the thing, we’re pretty much all “regular people” and what’s more, life is simple. That’s not to say people don’t aggrandize their importance or confound themselves with complexity.
Do your best and do good along the way. Simple.
6. “I can be a champion and a public servant also.”
Pacquiao is serving two terms as a congressman in the Philippines.
7. “I consider myself a student of boxing, a philosopher so to speak, and my philosophy is to keep learning.”
Continually learning and growing is necessary to remaining competitive. That’s true if you work is weaving and jabbing, or technology and business.
8. “Boxing is not about your feelings. It’s about performance.”
Doing great work matters, but so does accomplishing what you set out to do. Get your work out into the world. Suffer the bumps and bruises, learn and evolve. This is what Steve Jobs meant when he said “Real artists ship.”
9. “It’s just a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
Manny Pacquiano had what was arguably the biggest fight of his life on May 2nd 2015 against Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiano lost.
In the end, it’s a game. Or it’s work. It’s what we do, it’s not who we are.
Who are we? Sons or daughters, fathers or mothers, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Innovators, business people or artists. And we’re on to the next fight in our lives.