Unless you’ve been living under some large, soundproof rock this weekend, the name Conor McGregor will no doubt have been circling around you. Yes, he’s the self-hyped, expert-trash talking, mixed martial artist who represented Ireland at the UFC in Las Vegas and, true to his word, he’s absolutely annihilating everything and everyone in his path. Delivering on his promise, this weekend McGregor became Featherweight Champion of the World after a 13 second (yes, that’s it) contest and truly epic win. But we’re not here to chronicle the technicalities of what went down; we’ll leave that to the MMA experts. What we would like to do, however, is reflect on what can be learned from Ireland’s most promising sporting export.
1. While many will snub this newly popularised sport as ‘barbaric’ and violent, McGregor will be the first to tell you that it’s anything but, and apart from the pre fight trash talk, it’s an incredibly skilled community of fighters who have nothing but respect for one another.
Lesson: Respecting those with whom you train, fight, live, work – whatever – is an admirable and necessary trait.
2. Most obviously, McGregor teaches us that whatever it is you turn your hand to, commitment and dedication is key. Focusing on self improvement whether you’re training for a fight or honing your skills at work is imperative. Though McGregor can clearly talk the talk, he wouldn’t be where he is unless he could walk the walk.
Lesson: Unless you win the lotto, achieving your dreams won’t happen over night; success won’t fall into your lap. The most rewarding kind of success will require a peerless work ethic, it will take days of feeling like progress isn’t being made at all (when really it is) and it will take discipline. Keep the faith.
3. Focus only on what serves you well. McGregor chooses to listen only to those closest to him, whom he trusts, and to ignore the naysayers. He is 100% focused on his own performance, his own trajectory and his own goals.
Lesson: You may work in an environment that’s bubbling over with tension or drama but acquiring a set of blinkers will do you the world of good. Be civil, be nice, put the head down and work hard; it will all pay off in the end.
4. Self belief. Sporting skills aside, the reason McGregor seems to turn so many heads is for his ability to big himself up, something that we Irish have never been very good at. No, we’re far more inclined to talk ourselves down for fear that we’d come across as cocky or over confident. And when it comes to taking compliments, we’d much rather reject it than say ‘oh thank you, yes I suppose I am great’ than run the risk of prompting the Mean Girls-esque ‘so you think you’re really pretty?’ reaction. McGregor, on the other hand, believes that confidence is essential in achieving your goals. He’s in a league of his own and he knows it. One step away from the world title, in what way would self doubt serve him at this point? It wouldn’t.
“There’s two things I really like to do and that is whoop-ass and look good. I’m doing one of them right now and on Saturday night I’m going to do the other.”
Lesson: Once you have the required skills, the next thing you need is bucket loads of self belief. Any form of self destructive negativity will only hold you back. Be confident in your skills, believe that you’re on the road to achieving your dreams and with a little hard work, know that you’ll get there.
5. It’s part and parcel with the human experience, but fear is the one thing that collectively holds us back. McGregor has no room for fear in his line of work, if let fear rear its ugly head, he wouldn’t last five minutes.
“I fear no man. If you breath oxygen, I do not fear you.”
Lesson: Chances are you’ll come up against fear on more than a few ocassions, but take a leaf out of Conor’s book; feel the fear and do it anyway.
6. McGregor has successfully surrounded himself with a legion of dedicated fans, and what appears to be a formidable support system. This weekend, he was quoted explaining that he’s brought the whole of Ireland to Vegas with him. ‘If one of us goes to war, we all go to war.’
Lesson: Surround yourself with only the best people who support you, have your back at all times and will go to bat for you when the going gets tough.
7. Though he’s dealing in a serious and often dangerous business, when he’s not in the ring, he sees the value of humour. McGregor is not only incredibly talented and brimming with confidence, he’s quite the entertainer too, known just as much for his hilarious one liners as he is for his talent.
[Poirer] has an unusually small head. These are all facts. He’s got a big frame with a little, small peahead.
Lesson: Whatever you do, don’t ever lose your sense of humour.
No doubt McGregor will continue on his path of world domination and no doubt we’ll be right behind him all the way.
Word of warning, however, just keep an eye out for your kids if you find yourself in South America any time soon:
“I will go over to Brazil and take out every man, woman and child to get that belt.”
Be grateful. – Conor McGregor
Stay tuned for more pearls of wisdom from this fighting force to be reckoned with.