Sage lessons with George Foreman: Getting back up

Published · 2 min read

In this blog series, we’re exploring the messages George Foreman shared during his keynote speech at Sage Summit 2017. Wherever you are in your business journey, these lessons from his inspirational life will keep you inspired and fighting another day. Read his first and second lessons here.

Lesson 3: Be willing to get back up.

The most striking piece of George Foreman’s story is his persistence. After the hard knocks of his life—both literal and metaphorical—he continued to get back up and tackle the next challenge on the way to success.

The first example of that was Foreman joining Job Corps, seizing a second chance at vocational training despite not having finished his education. Instead of letting his partial education limit him in life, he pivoted and took advantage of other resources and other opportunities. That ultimately led him to box, since he met his first boxing coach through his connections at Job Corps. That coach told him, “If you stop fighting in the streets, you might be able to go to the Olympics.” Again, Foreman had a choice. Accept the hard knocks of his life, or get up and take advantage of an incredible opportunity. He chose the latter, and after a year of dedication and hard work, he made the Olympic team and went on to win a gold medal.

He kept that get-back-up spirit throughout his life. When he found himself at a low point after years away from boxing, being overweight, and struggling to make ends meet, he didn’t just accept that. Instead, he said, “I fought my way back. I went back to fighting, one fight after another.” Not only did he get up and keep swinging, he was also willing to be humble about it. When he re-entered the ring, his first purse was a modest $2,500. He traveled the country for small winnings like that, working his way back to the top. Eventually, he fought Evander Holyfield for a purse of $12.5 million and became the world heavyweight champion for the second time. And at age 45, he was also the oldest man ever to hold the title.

And of course, who can forget his tastiest success? As he was training and getting back in the boxing game, a friend showed him a design for a slanted grill that cooked meat so it was moist, but not greasy. Foreman went on to sell 120 million units of the “lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machine,” despite the fact that this was new territory for his career.

The powerful moral of Foreman’s story is that none of his challenges kept him down. Whenever necessary, he persevered, learned new skills, and continued to strive for success. No matter how many times he got knocked down, he always got back up, which is equally great advice for business, boxing, and life. At the end of his keynote, Foreman wrapped up by telling the audience, “Those of you who are starting off—it may look greasy in the beginning, but give it another round like George Foreman did. Dreams come true. You gotta be willing to get up and fight.”

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