A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

FIGHT NIGHT



There’s an old picture postcard, I remember
first seeing as a child, which for some
reason, has always stuck in my head...

There are two boxers standing in a ring. One has quite clearly been badly beaten. There’s blood coming from his nose, he has two black eyes, and there are cartoon stars twinkling above his head. The other is completely unmarked. The beaten fighter turns to the victor threateningly and says...

“Just wait till I get you outside!”

The joke is an obvious one. Here’s a bloke who’s lost a fight, threatening the guy who’s just beaten him. Plainly ridiculous... or is it?

I got to thinking about this last week, when I was reading a book about street self defence (don’t ask, it’s a long story!) Anyway, the book was written by a 5th Dan karate black belt, who also had a lot of experience of violence, in the real world through his work as a nightclub bouncer.

It seems the postcard wasn’t such a joke after all.

A recurring message throughout the book is that what works in the controlled confines of an organised sport will not necessarily work out on the street. Martial arts and boxing skills do not translate to the street in their unmodified state.

The author tells several stories of how highly skilled and qualified fighters have been found wanting when coming under attack from an untrained opponent in real world conditions...

Conditions where there are no rules, no limits
and where the attacker will almost certainly use
tactics and techniques which are alien to the fighter.

He argued that many highly skilled, highly qualified fighters, are walking around with a false sense of security. They have trained for attack scenarios which are simply not going to take place in the real world, and that they are chronically unprepared for the ones that are.

Now, I’m not telling you all this to warn you about your personal safety, (although having read this book, I certainly had cause for thought) but while thinking about all this, I couldn’t help but be struck by the parallels with business and career development.

You see, many moons ago, I got a degree in business studies. That was my ‘black belt’, if you like. Just like someone with a black belt in karate, I thought this would be enough to out-fight and out-manoeuvre any ‘inferior’ competition that might come my way. You know... those ill-educated people who weren’t smart enough to get a degree... people who had learned what they knew through mundane experience.

Boy, was I in for a shock!

You see, just like those trained fighters the author talked about in the book, I’d prepared for a battle which was never going to take place in the real world. Or not in my world, at least. The techniques and strategies which looked so plausible in the classroom, simply didn’t stand up to the demands of the real world where things could get much more complicated, and the rules, boundaries and limits were not where they were supposed to be... according to the theory.

I think a lot of people make the same mistake. They believe that a qualification or a skill is going to be their passport to riches (or something else they desire), when all it really is, is a ticket to stand on the starting line of a very long race.

Many people simply can’t, or won’t, accept this, clinging on to the belief that the hard work and effort they’ve invested in developing their skills and knowledge should automatically bring its own reward. They are better qualified, better trained and more skilled than most, and so wait for the moment when the rest of the world realises the fact and rewards them accordingly. It will be a long wait.

In the meantime they look disdainfully at the poorly qualified, the poorly trained and the relatively unskilled who are metaphorically beating the living daylights out of them every day....

People who are able to do it because they know that the practical is better than the theoretical, function is more important than form - and even half-arsed, ill-conceived action will beat meaningful contemplation most of the time.

The guy who wrote the self defence book I told you about has been in hundreds of violent confrontations, and watched and analysed thousands of others. Do you know what one of his key pieces of advice is... the thing that separates the winners from the losers, irrespective of size, strength, skill or training?

Get in first!

Be pre-emptive, if it looks like there’s no alternative but to fight. Apparently this is decisive 90% of the time.

Isn’t that amazing? Years of training can be neutralised by a complete novice taking decisive action, while the expert is still considering his options.

The path to success is rarely
defined by logic and structure...

You can have great qualifications which get you a job interview, and then have them instantly neutralised by someone without a certificate to their name, but who possesses something which a five year old child has in abundance - enthusiasm. Your superior skills may have created the best product in the world, but you’ll be left in the wake of someone who has an inferior one, but knows how to inform and excite people about it...

And yes, you can have first class training, and be easily defeated by a rank novice who is simply quicker off the mark.

The people who turn their skills or qualifications into real world success are those who recognise that all they have is an entry ticket, and then set about shaping and adapting what they can do and what they know, to the imperfect conditions which exist in the market.

They come to accept and embrace the fact that the game of life isn’t always fair, and that not all the players are playing to the same rules... the fact that the winners are not always the most clever or the most skilled or the most highly trained, but rather those who use every last tool in their armoury (no matter where it came from) to make sure that they win.

And when you combine skills and knowledge with
decisive action and cunning, you have a winning
combination which is very hard to beat.

If you’ve ever felt that your skills, qualifications and training haven’t taken you where you deserve to be, then I hope this issue might give you some idea why that might be. If you’ve ever felt that your lack of skills, qualifications and training form an impenetrable barrier to success, then I hope it also gives you cause to think again.

And whether you’re skilled or unskilled, qualified or unqualified, trained or untrained, I also hope it gives you some new ideas about where your future efforts might be best directed.

Because the next time you have to ‘step outside’, you need to be fully ready!



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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