When I Threw “Mr. T” To The Mat

Abstract Version of Mr. T.

And lost.. but learned a lifetime lesson.

When I was in high school in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1980s, I had a wrestling match that taught me some timeless truths.

Confidence, Courage, and Appearances

When I stepped on the mat that day, I was missing the first two and the third scared the crap out of me.

Mr. T, my opponent, was waiting for me.  (you know, the guy from The A-Team and Clubber Lang in Rocky 3).

The mohawk, the physique, but no chains (not allowed on the mat).

I faced him in my 16-year-old 135 pound frame (61 kg).

And I was scared and mentally got my butt kicked even before the referees had us shake hands.

The fact that this wasn’t the real Mr. T. didn’t cross my mind.

He had a mohawk.

I had a goofy pair of Kurt Rambis like prescription glasses which I took off.

So he was blurry.. and became the real Mr T.. in a 140 pound mini-me version…

My heart was beating in my throat…

“Good Luck” I whispered in a high pitch Tweety Bird voice as we shook hands.

The match started..

and within a minute I realised this definitely was not Mr. T…

He wasn’t so scary….

In fact… I can beat this guy!

But I had already given up a few points…

So in the next two rounds I was like a Lion..

Several times I threw him to the mat and once nearly pinned him..

But he was flexible, with a strong neck, and wouldn’t let me finish him.

He went on the defense to protect his points.

I tried a last second desperation move.. had him almost where I wanted… but he slipped away.

The final whistle blew…

He had won.. by 1 point…

Walking off the mat my coach came up to me, put his arm around me, and told me two things that resonated:

1.    I lost the match before it even started because I got intimidated.

2.    But my determination and grit had almost won the day. Unfortunately, #1 put me in a too big of a hole to come back when the final whistle blew.

Here’s what’s ironic.

Mr. T wasn’t scary. In fact, we chatted after the mat and he was quite friendly.

Our match wasn’t as bad as I had expected—in fact, it was quite good! We did our best and left everything out on the mat when we were done.

And although he won by a point – I knew I should have won.

I was better than Mr. T but my heart failed me.

It’s a lesson I never forgot and which I bring to business:

(Yes there is a point to this story… )

Appearances are deceiving

 Don’t judge a book by its cover! Just because someone looks intimidating doesn’t mean they are. Sometimes you have to leap of faith (or step onto a wrestling mat) to see their true colours.  

Believe in yourself

Imposter syndrome is a nasty mental bug. Don’t let it throw you off from what you are offering. Believe in yourself and your abilities, no matter what others think or say. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will either!

Take Smart Risks

If I hadn’t been scared and had just focused on wrestling when the whistle blew, that would have been the smart risk. I would have won.

Don’t Give Up Before You Even Start:

When you face an obstacle, push ahead until the end. You never know what could happen – sometimes a single move or action could make all the difference in achieving success.

Learn From Experience:

Every situation is different, but you can learn from both your victories and your defeats to do better next time. It makes you better prepared for the future and perform better.

What psychs you out when thinking about your business over the next 30 days?

If your nightmares seem more vivid than reality, remember the lesson of Mr. T.


My Book Roadblocks You Can’t Ignore: 10 Roadblocks Holding You Back From The Freedom You Deserve From Your Business is now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and other Amazon stores (not UAE yet). A free copy can be requested through my website by clicking Book.


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