The world has said goodbye to Muhammad Ali.
Like many mourning his loss, I can't remember a time when I didn't adore this man.
He was bold.
He was beautiful.
He was unapologetically Black.
His was a life extraordinarily well-lived. A life that provides critical clues on how we can all navigate challenges as a champion.
Do you aspire to undisputed greatness?
If so, take to heart these life lessons gleaned from the Greatest of all time.
1. Be Unapologetically Y-O-U
Ali was an original. He was groundbreaking. He was revolutionary. True greatness does not come via reproduction. It isn't packaged as a replication of someone else's achievements. True greatness breaks the mold. It's unique. It's distinctive. To be great, you must be willing to fully embrace that which is special about you and then share it boldly with the world.
2. Believe It BEFORE You Achieve It
Ali won his first World Heavy-Weight Championship at the tender age of 22. But before he even stepped into the ring to face reigning champion Sonny Liston, he'd already convinced himself of his preeminence. When the world was just getting to know Ali beyond the Olympic stage, he was proclaiming with unabashed confidence that he was, "The Greatest." Not just good, or merely, one of the best, but the Greatest. He came into the ring that night thoroughly convinced that he was the best that ever lived, and by the end of the end of that fight, he'd begun to convince us all.
3. Put in the WORK When No One's Watching
Although Ali is greatly known for his performance in front of the camera, he became a champion because of the hours and hours of work he invested in isolation. What some may not know is that Ali hated training. He once famously said that "he hated every minute of it." But he knew the price of success. He understood that if he didn't quit, and instead, pushed through the pain, he'd live the rest of his life as a champion. What are you willing to push through to get to where you know you want to go? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to be great?
4. Claim It!
While Ali famously proclaimed his greatness countless times and without hesitation, for many, and especially women, the ability to say how wonderful we truly are is particularly difficult. Girls are acculturated to be demure, polite, quiet, and sweet. For us, bragging is perceived as unbecoming and "unladylike." As a result, many women bristle at the thought of being considered arrogant. Here's the thing...you don't have to be conceited to succeed, but you do have to be convinced. Convinced of your abilities. Convinced of your potential. Convinced of your ability to face any situation that may come your way and shine. When you are truly convinced of your greatness, you'll gain the ability to effortlessly exude your magnificence to the world.
5. Be Bold Enough to Stand up for What's Right, Even if You Stand Alone
Ali was an extraordinary boxer, Olympic gold medalist, and World Champion, but what I loved most about this man had absolutely nothing to do with his extraordinary athleticism. I loved him for his courage and his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, even to the detriment of his career. It's easy to spend your life going along with the crowd. But the real measure of greatness is the willingness to depart from it, speak the truth, and face the consequences of those actions when most choose to look the other way. Taking a stand for what's right, even when that means standing alone, is the true mark of a champion.
Dr. Avis is a Career Reinvention Strategist, Diversity Consultant, International Speaker, and Women's Empowerment Expert. She's the Author of How Exceptional Black Women Lead and the Founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women. Grab your copy of the book along with a Complimentary Companion Journal by going to:www.blackwomenlead.com.