As a kid, baseball was my favorite sport to play, watch and talk about.

Professional boxing was a close second. I read all I could in my dad’s weekly Sports Illustrated. I watched all the matches I could on TV. I closely followed Olympic boxing and savored the Howard Cosell and Mohammed Ali banter. Of course I have all the Rocky movies. I can still punch out a heavy bag and move a speed bag.

My dad boxed in his youth and taught my brothers and me many boxing basics. We received a Christmas gift of boxing gloves that we wore out “sharing” with the neighborhood kids on our side yard.

Boxing has disappeared from the mainstream. But I learned a lot about myself and other people from boxing that remain important touch stones. I believe there are many valuable self-learning’s to be derived from boxing. 

A key skill is to know when to jab and when to throw a solid punch. This seems basic but it is the difference between winning and losing. It is also the difference between having a “puncher's chance” versus designing and executing a plan to win.

There are many types of punches but a jab is a quick, straight-blow intended for distraction, defense, setting-up or keeping distance. On the other hand a planned well-aimed upper cut punch is an intended striking blow. The knock-out punch delivers the best result.

Applying this to the workplace, I liken a jab to activity and punch to results. Over the years I have seen tremendous amounts of activity performed for various reasons. To me activity is exerted to set-up a result. Much activity is wasteful and misdirected. Also if continuously done without question or self-examination it will likely lead to an unsatisfactory result.

As a long time manager I have observed deliberate jabbing work behaviors. Some folks fully plan to jab all day, every day. Others think they are punching when they are actually jabbing. The most prevalent jabbing behavior is to delegate the actual direct punching to others.

The key to short and long term success is to always focus on the desired result of your activity. Doing so helps you wisely use your time, energy and resources.

Many people are happy getting through the work day just throwing jabs. However I have discovered that the winners at work will also throw jabs but with the planned goal of delivering a result driven knock-out punch when the time is right.

Career success is not accidental. It takes planning, hard work and the smarts to know when winning results are needed. Successful businesses and careers are about winning. They are not achieved from losing or draws. Always set yourself up to be a winner and come out punching.

Jim Ludlow

About Jim Ludlow

Jim is the President and CEO of Liquid Interactive. A founding father of Liquid, with dozens of published articles, a nationally-recognized personal investment book and decades of sound business practices quietly notched behind his name, Jim’s mere presence conjures a sense of confidence and integrity. He leads by example, encouraging each of us to push harder, continually improve, execute wisely and use our collective talents to bolster client growth.