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Sage lessons with George Foreman: Staying motivated

What does it take to be a champion? Whether it’s in business, boxing, or life, George Foreman knows that it really comes down to three things. First, you have to have the right motivations. Second, you have to accept that you’ll get knocked down. And third, you have to be willing to get back up.

In this blog series, we’ll dive into those messages Foreman shared during his Sage Summit keynote. Wherever you are in your business journey, these three lessons from his inspirational life will keep you fighting another day.

Lesson 1: Find the right motivations.

Before George Foreman began his boxing career, he wasn’t particularly motivated to get in the ring. In fact, he was somewhat directionless. He dropped out of school in Houston, Texas at age fifteen and spent his days creatively concealing that fact. From the stage at Sage Summit, he recounted how he would leave the house in the morning as if he was headed to school, but then circle back home and crawl in the window to sleep all day. In the afternoon, he would leave via the window again and walk up to the front of the house, pretending to “come home from school.” One day he got caught by his cousin Rita. She immediately understood that he wasn’t going to school, but instead of ratting him out, she simply laughed and said it didn’t matter. “You know you’re not going to be anything,” she scoffed at him. “No one in this family ever becomes anything.” Foreman’s response was, “I am going to be something.” Talk about motivation! He wanted to prove her wrong and find success.

Later in life, he had done exactly that: he became a heavyweight champion, married and started a family. He enjoyed fame and success for quite some time—but things changed, especially in the years when he stepped out of the ring. One day he looked up and realized he weighed 315 pounds and was broke. “That’s the most frightening thing,” Foreman said. “I had children, but I was broke. My family depended on me. What was I going to do?” That was another powerful motivator.

No doubt, the entrepreneurs and other dedicated business people in the keynote audience could identify with Foreman’s journey. Everyone wants to prove themselves, find success, and take care of the ones they love. These motivations drove Foreman to his initial success, and as we’ll see in the next post in this series, those motivations helped him climb back to the top.