I believe I heard this from Conan McGregor. I didn’t know about him until I stumbled on one of his motivational videos highlighting one of his fights displaying his “never give up attitude.”
While McGregor took naturally to living a lavish life and earning nine figures it wasn't something into which he was born. Coming from a working-class family from the suburbs of Dublin, McGregor journeyed his way through gyms. Uninterested in school, he took to plumbing as a trade and did what he could to make it a living for some time. There were times when he would work 12-hour days before heading to the gym to train as a fighter. Eventually he would achieve worldwide fame as the most Notorious fighter on the planet, and the biggest name in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
“Don’t ever sleep on a win,” he told the interviewer.
It really got me thinking.
He has sheer determination on his side. He believes that whatever he says will come true. When he gave up plumbing to train full time, his parents disapproved of the decision, so much so he and his father came to blows. "You’ll be sorry when I'm a millionaire," he told his father.
And so he did. He fought. He endured. And he won!
Don’t ever sleep on a win.
We tend to hang on to the wins of others. It inspires us. It helps us to believe, to be encouraged that if this could work out for them it could work out for us too.
But sometimes there’s the story after the big win story, that we don’t always hear, are never privy to, until perhaps, by grace, someone shares, gives us a glimpse inside; allow themselves to be seen in this moment of vulnerability.
Les Brown always shared his “big win” story, rising from cleaning floors, to becoming a DJ, to eventually becoming the motivational speaker he always wanted to be. And as a demonstration of where he had got to in life, he chose to purchase a house in a “nice” part of Miami for his Mama.
The part of the story that Les didn’t reveal until many years later was that he lost that house, no sooner had he bought it. He did not execute due diligence and do a proper title search. There was a lien on the house. A lien is a legal right or claim against a piece of property by a creditor so they can collect what is owed to them. The seller of the house was untruthful and Les trusted him. A few weeks after purchasing the property he received a letter, a registered letter, indicating that the house was going up for shelf sale on the courthouse steps.A man had filed a $12,000 lien against the property because the previous owner owed him that money. And if he did not come up with $12,000 in 30 days, he was going to sell the house to the highest bidder.
Don’t ever sleep on a win.
So often we believe that once we slay all the dragons that life is going to be a string of successes. Yet life is always going to sometimes offer us stuff that we don’t care for.
Take Kieran Behan. This is a young man who has already overcome many lifetimes of adversity in his 27 years. His journey to this point is well-known, not that it makes it any less remarkable. Diagnosed with a tumour in his thigh at age 11, he was then wheelchair-bound for more than a year after suffering nerve damage during the operation to have it removed. After he dragged himself back to full health and back into the gym, fate dealt him an even more cruel hand. In a freak training accident, he hit his head on the horizontal bar resulting in a severe brain injury that left him wheelchair-bound again. Doctors told him that he would never walk again. Behan, politely, decisively, disagreed and instead made history as only the second gymnast to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games four years ago.
Even if we win, we can’t afford to sleep or lie in the wake of that win forever. We must train ourselves to own our outcomes. Whatever circumstances life brings us we must always remember to learn. Be radically open to learning. Learning is the product of a continuous real-time feedback loop where you make decisions, see their outcomes and improve your understanding of reality as a result.
Most of us fight seeing what’s true when it’s not what we want it to be. Be more open minded because the more open minded you are, the less likely you are to deceive yourself. Facing reality is far better than sleeping on a win and waking up to find out that you’re no longer even in the game or relevant.
Never sleep on a win. Period.
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