What can you do with three minutes? Smoke one third of a cigarette. Wait for the light to change. Read a page in a book. Beat yourself into total exhaustion. Guess which one I did.
Not too long ago, I decided to fight in a beginner boxing event. I used my fists in a civilized way, with a professional referee and judges in a real ring. Two men, 16-ounce gloves, head gear. Three rounds, one minute each. Total investment: 27 hours for three minutes in the ring. It was worth every second.
Why did I, a 37-year-old entrepreneur with a wife and three kids, choose to do this? Did I fight because I was middle-aged? Did I have something to prove? Probably. Still, I’d like to think it was because I had never done it before, and because it’s the last thing someone like me would ever do. Also, I’ve always wanted to know if I could take or give a punch. Turns out I can do both.
What did I learn from this experience? I learned that I surprised (in a good way) most of the people who know me. I learned that I still flinch, and that I like to be the center of attention. I learned that the one thing worse than a broken nose and two black eyes is growing comfortable and no longer trying new things in work and life.
More than anything, this fight taught me that I don’t have the focus I’d like to have, and that it is a skill I need to improve. Also, I’m not committed all the time. I watch TV while playing with the kids, and I let little issues distract me from my strategic goals at work. What does all that mean? It means I’m human, that I have things to work on, and that I’m alive and doing the best I can at becoming more attached to the present.
Was getting in that ring a good decision? Yes. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience— and I’ll never do it again. This experience was better than life-changing, it was life-reaffirming. After three rounds of boxing, I’ve been reminded how life is about the people you choose, the plans you make and the actions you take to move forward.
Dylan Pedersen is the president of Ataraxis, Inc. E-mail Dylan at email@example.com.