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2015Rodney King

Right Hook Life & Nail It Between The Legs:


Your Guide to Grabbing Life by the Balls and Winning
Unconventionally
[In 4 Simple Steps]

To say that Ive lived an unconventional life is an understatement.

Growing up on the gritty streets of the South Side of Johannesburg,


South Africa in government housing (similar to housing projects in the
US) taught me early on that how smart you are means nothing and how
tough you are means everything. I was bullied relentlessly as a kid, to
the point where I had to have secret routes from school and within my
neighborhood just to make it home safely. But home wasnt safe either.
My mother a raging alcoholic would fly into fits of anger, smashing
things against the wall or more frequently, my head. When I was 17,
during yet another one of her drunken rages, she kicked me out of the
house. Destitute, alone, and with less than $20 in my pocket, I found
myself sleeping on a bench in the park where I used to play as a kid.

My future, if I even had one, consisted of a giant neon sign blinking,


FAILURE. I was destined to become another statistic, eaten up by
poverty, poor parenting, and lack of education.

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But somehow, I beat the odds and proved everyone wrong. Although I
didnt know it then, through my passion for martial arts and the lessons
learned on the mat, in the ring, and on the streets, I would reach the
pinnacle of personal and professional success.

What follows is my hard-hitting, unconventional system for success


borne out of my hard-knock, unconventional journey to the top. Its a
no-holds-barred approach to winning the martial arts of everyday life on
your own terms!

One piece of advice This is something I tell all my students:

The answers are easy, but the practice is hard.

People love to overcomplicate success. It cant be that easy, they say.


The tools for success arent difficult to understand, but they are hard to
master. Bottom line: I can provide you with the best-in-class tools, but
unless you put them into action, unless you practice, you wont see any
success. So, lets get real and get ready to hustle!

Rodney King, 2015

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Right Hook Life

02

2. Feel The Fear And Just Fucking Do It Anyway

05

3. Intentional Success

20

4. Get Your Voodoo On: Ritualize!

26

5. Live For The Boooooooom!

32

6. Final Thoughts

43

7. About Coach Rodney King

45

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Feel The Fear And Just Fucking Do It Anyway


Lets not mince words. Life can be a fucking scary place. Fear can be
such a debilitating emotion that it can stop you dead in your tracks.

There I was, 20 years old, fresh out of the military, standing outside a
nightclub as the bouncer. Did I mention that the entrance age for the
club was 24? Yeah. I was shitting myself.

Lets just think about that for a second. I was the kid who was bullied
relentlessly. Having my head flushed in the toilet and being cornered on
the way home and beaten senseless were daily occurrences. Things got
so scary that I started to skip school, feigning dozens of made up
illnesses. When I saw the bullies coming my way, I would search for an
escape route and haul ass, running as fast as I could, only to hear them
laugh and heckle me as I did.

And at age 20, there I was, a bouncer. An occupation of violence. In


other words, tossing the assholes and troublemakers out of the club.
The most polite thing I did was punch them really hard in the face just
once.

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My first night on the job, shit started with a group of guys whod been
drinking way too much and decided it would be fun to pinch a girls
butt as she walked by. Needless to say, the girls boyfriend wasnt
impressed. The call went out, and my fellow bouncers and I were there
in seconds to break things up. As we escorted the troublemaker and
his friends out of the club, the head asshole turned to me and said,
What the fuck do you think youre going to do, you little wanker?
Looks like theyre hiring children at this club.

To be honest, my knees were shaking so hard, I thought I was about to


fall down. My stomach was churning, and I felt sick. My mouth was dry,
and I broke out in a cold sweat. To make matters worse, or likely
because of it, the head asshole was built like a brick shithouse. And
there I was, all 170 pounds of me, ready to throw up. I was so scared
and nervous that I didnt think Id be able to move.

The head asshole opened his mouth again and started to move toward
me with his hand beginning to raise up, and there it was mid-flight a
right hook aimed straight at my head. I ducked, popped up, and with
one well placed right hook of my own, I floored him. Twenty minutes
later, they still couldnt wake him up.

Now, Im certainly not saying you should go around punching people


left and right, nor am I glorifying violence. On that day, I was defending
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myself, but that experience made a crucial impression on me as the


years went on. The lesson wasnt immediately evident that day, but over
time, as I had more similar experiences, it became clear to me that just
because youre afraid,' it doesnt mean you can't make shit happen.
That old saying, feel the fear and do it anyway, took on a vivid, dare I
say visceral, meaning.

Although I cant know for certain, I can assume that as a fellow human
being, we share similar thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Some of
these emotions, such as fear, may arise from situations that remind us of
past traumatic experiences, or our thinking mind can talk us into a fear
state. In the latter scenario, what we tell ourselves internally kicks off a
fear response. In the former, our body responds first, only to have our
thinking mind classify that response as fear later on.

Looking back, the guy I faced that night was actually scary looking, but
he also reminded me of the guys who bullied me growing up. Before I
could even process why I was so scared, my body went into survival
mode as a way of letting me know, Weve been here before. I
immediately began scanning my body and mind to make sense of why I
was feeling the way I was, and my only conclusion was that I was afraid:
afraid that I didnt have what it would take to handle that guy. Luckily
though, I didnt have enough time to reflect on my fear in the moment.
In a way, that asshole did me a favor. His quick reaction time between
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insulting me and throwing that punch didnt give me much time to


assess my fear. I simply had to react, without much thought to how I
was feeling. Given more time, I might have allowed my thoughts to
undermine my ability to react and therefore chickened out.

Two lessons stand out from this experience, but they are also,
essentially, one. (Now theres a Yogi Berra-style statement for you!) Our
thoughts can trigger fear, or the physiological changes that typically
take place in a fear response can happen first, and we then interpret
them as signs of fear. They may seem different, but in fact, theyre
virtually the same. The common denominator in both is the story, or
narrative, we create. The story leads to fear, or feelings lead by a story
become fear. But heres the thing, and it may seem confusing at first: its
only when we begin with fear-inducing thoughts, or we interpret or
label a series of feelings as fear, that true FEAR emerges.

Allow me to explain Every week I have to stand up in front of people I


dont know in different parts of the world and coach them. Since I take
what I do very seriously, its not uncommon for me to experience
butterflies, notice my heart rate elevate, sense clamminess on my
hands, and feel my mouth dry up. This is my body recognizing stress
and preparing for a performance. Sometimes, these internal stirrings
are mild, but before a big event, theyre much more pronounced. I have
two choices in that moment: I can interpret those feelings and
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sensations as fear and anxiety, or I can view them as indicators of


excitement. Theres a stimulus (the upcoming coaching event) and a
thinking response (my thoughts about fear or excitement). My response,
the way I interpret that stimulus, is going to dictate whether I take
action or buckle and fold under the pressure. I could engineer this
process in reverse, too. For example, before the first whiff of fear, I
could begin having fear-based thoughts, which would ultimately invoke
a fear response in my body. This could include thoughts like, Ive never
done an event this big. Im not sure I can handle it. This process might
begin with an apprehensive or self-limiting thought that if left
unchecked and allowed to feed into the other stories I tell myself about
why I wont be able to do this, can quickly invoke physiological
responses that I invariably end up labelling, consciously or
subconsciously, as fear.

Although I survived my inner narrative that night when facing the head
asshole, things havent always gone so smoothly. Thereve been more
times than I can count when I was faced with the threat of interpersonal
violence outside nightclubs - when situations had dragged on long
enough for the narrative in my head to grow so powerful, so strong that I was mere seconds away from becoming overwhelmed with
intense emotional responses which wouldve rendered me useless. The
phrase a deer in headlights comes to mind here. You can become so
worked up by the story in your head that you can literally freeze, leaving
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yourself completely unable to respond. To some academic types, this


may seem like an oversimplification of the process, but its been my
experience.

Heres a question Im often asked in martial arts circles: What about


when you go from zero (no thoughts of danger or physiological
preparedness for danger) to responding when someone randomly
attacks you? Is that a fear response? I typically reply that I love those
situations simply because you have to respond without thinking. You
have to rely on your training, and thinking cant get you into trouble.
But to be serious for a moment, I dont see that reaction as a fear
response per se but rather a survival response. The physiological
changes that happen during or before a fight are simply the bodys way
of preparing to perform and, ultimately, to survive. These precede any
label, such as fear, anxiety, etc. Those labels are words we use in order
to make sense of our feelings and even justify them. As I said before,
we could just as easily interpret them as excitement. Why do people
who bungee jump think its fun? They come out of that experience
feeling amped. But just before they jumped, any one of their internal
stirrings - in a different situation, under a different narrative - could be
interpreted as intense fear and prevent them from acting.

Looking at things from this perspective has helped me to better


understand the difference between fear and survival. Survival-based
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responses are essential as they keep you alive and safe, but fear is only
fear because you created a story, a narrative around an experience that
you then label as fear. This is why fears are often said to be totally
irrational. To the thinking mind, however, giving strength to a story is
rational. The question, therefore, is: what can you do about it?

Now, I dont know about you, but Ive never had much luck with telling
myself not to be afraid. So often, you wind up with two conflicting
stories. One story tells you its rational that youre afraid of the situation
youre faced with, and another one tells you that youre being silly. So,
which one is it?

The best solution Ive found is not to argue with either story. Neither of
them is true anyway, in most cases. They are only interpretations being
sown in the mind that seem to be the right justifications in the moment.
If every fear story were accurate, you wouldnt be able to achieve
anything. Every day, people are faced with real fearful events but
manage to push through and succeed nonetheless. The question is:
how?

Most people just find a way to get through it. They develop a strategy,
mostly subconsciously. Most people cant even tell you how they do it.
But, what if they could? And what if you could recreate the same

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strategy? How would you turn something as debilitating as fear into


action, or rather a more agile force that can work in your favor?

Step 1: The notion so often thrown around is that you can learn to
control your fear. Im here to tell you: that is utter bullshit. There, I said
it. Nothing irritates me more than when I see self-defense instructors
and self-help gurus peddling that nonsense. All it ends up doing is
making you feel like a loser when you cant control the fear. The fact is,
you will never be able to control your fear or any emotion, for that
matter. You cant control fear anymore than you can control what life
throws at you. In case you hadnt already noticed, life is impermanent
and imperfect. Nothing remains the same. Nothing ever goes exactly to
plan. Control is an illusion often conjured up in a misguided attempt to
avoid the fact that you cannot control anything.

For many people, the illusion of control feels much safer than accepting
the fact that they don't have any. But thats not their fault. No one is
ever taught what to do with emotions that become unhelpful. I want
you to get this into your head now: in its purest form, there is no such
thing as an unhelpful emotion. All emotions are inherently good. This is
often dependent on context, of course. If you were walking in the
woods, turned the corner only to find a grizzly bear staring you down,
and you felt no fear, you might think it would be a good idea to go up
and pet the bear. And we all know how that story would end.
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After two decades of intense martial arts practice and over 20,000
hours of sparring with people from all over the world - including world
champions, people who went on to compete in the UFC, and special
forces military operators - I can tell you with full confidence that just
because youre thinking or feeling a certain way, it doesnt mean you
cant get in the ring, do your best, and kick ass. Without exception, the
only time thoughts and feelings have caused me problems is when I
either tried to control my fear, anger, anxiety, etc., or I allowed my inner
narrative about what I was feeling to get the best of me.

Step 2: The physiological changes that happen in your body, which you
then define or recognise as fear, are going to happen with or without
your consent. Said another way, if we go back to my grizzly bear
example in which you turned a corner in the woods and ran into one,
tell me you're not going to instantly shit yourself. And now try to tell me
that somehow magically youre going to control that fear. Probably not,
right?

If you cant control your fear, or any other emotion (anger, anxiety, etc.)
for that matter, what can you do about it? I hinted at the answer in Step
1.

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What you can do is acknowledge your capacity to manage your inner


state. By definition, managing is very different than controlling. When
you manage your inner state, you recognize that it exists but then
change your relationship with what is holding you back in a way that still
allows you to achieve success. When you attempt to control something,
you try to exert power to influence or direct either your behavior or the
course of events. For example, trying to influence your behavior by
telling yourself not to be afraid doesnt help. In actual fact - and I know
this from first hand experience sparring against some of the toughest
men on the planet - the more you tell yourself not to be afraid, the
more worked up you get, and the more you second guess yourself.

As such, your first goal is to change your relationship with the emotions
that are holding you back. You must develop a subtle awareness of
what it actually feels like to be hooked by strong emotions. This starts
by learning how to notice feelings when they first arise. Returning to my
earlier example, when Im coaching around the world, and I feel the
butterflies in my stomach and the dryness in mouth, I recognize these
signals as the typical precipitants of a strong emotion, like anxiety or
fear. Noticing these feelings early on allows me to catch them more
quickly, before they consume me. With enough practice, you can feel
what will become fear before you even label it as such. The label is the
hook. Its our story, the narrative we use to describe and justify why
were feeling a certain way.
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Step 3: Step 3 is the crux of this practice. Once youre able to


recognize the beginnings of a strong emotion, youll learn to interrupt
the momentum of these feelings by slowing down your own reactions
to them. In other words, youll teach yourself to interrupt the cycle of
stimulus and response. Between the stimulus (i.e., the event that
triggers the feelings) and your response (i.e., the story or narrative you
use to make sense of the feelings) is a gap. Admittedly, its a really small
gap, but once you learn to manage it, your way of dealing with
unhelpful emotional states will shift. Put another way, your story will
stop running you.

Step 4: This step is all about what you do during the gap between
stimulus and response. Allow me to give you an example. Imagine this
scenario: I wake up in the morning in my hotel room. Today is the big
day. In 2 hours, Ill be in front of dozens of people who Ive never met
before, and Ill be sparring with all of them. Picture it: dozens of people,
all with amazing fight games, trying to punch me in the face. Now
imagine repeating that experience dozens of times throughout the year.

From the moment I begin to think about the upcoming event, even as
my eyes open, my physiology begins to change. But I immediately
recognize that the onset of these feelings is actually my entire
embodied self preparing to perform. Instead of creating a narrative
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around those feelings - like telling myself, Im afraid because, Im


anxious because, or Im tense because, - and then finding myself
neck deep in internal dialogue about either trying to change the story
or justify it, I simply label what Im feeling. Ah, tension or Ah, anxiety.
Nothing more, nothing less. With practice, Im simply being mindful
about the inner stirrings in my mind and body. Im also slowing down
my reactions to whats happening.

Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present


moment and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience from
moment to moment. When youre mindful, youre able to enter into the
places that you fear because you do so fully and non-judgmentally
embracing the unfolding of experience from moment to moment. More
importantly, youre no longer run by your emotions. Dont get me
wrong: all the inner feelings you usually recognize as fear or anxiety are
still there. The difference is that youre not having an inner dialogue
about them. You drop the story, the hook.

Being mindful enables you to be more present, focused, and astute,


aware of the experience unfolding in front of you. This means your
responses will be precise and not clouded by emotions which are
almost always attached to unhelpful thoughts.

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Outside the night club, when I threw that guy out, and he came back at
me with a right hook, I simply reacted from my fight training. In that
moment - and not even realizing it at the time - my thinking mind was
switched off. I didnt have time to overthink the feelings I was having.
The right hook coming my way simply didnt give me the opportunity
to. There was no gap. This is what I meant earlier when I said that the
head asshole did me a favor. If we had pushed and shoved each other
around for a while, as often happens scuffles, I may have begun to
interpret my thoughts and feelings as apprehension and fear and I
might have attached some sort of self-limiting thoughts to it.

I want to make this abundantly clear: its not whats happening outside
of ourselves thats the problem. Its not even whats happening inside
thats the problem. The problem lies in the ways in which we interpret
what happens to us, inside and out. Im not saying you shouldnt
acknowledge how you feel. I can label my feelings as fear, but as long
as thats where it begins and ends, I give no further power to my
feelings - especially not the kind of unhelpful power that attaches a
story or narrative to them - which has the potential to cause you to quit
or freeze.

Ive used this approach successfully in thousands of sparring matches


with some of the worlds toughest opponents. Ive also used it
successfully in business as an entrepreneur. Ive even used it
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successfully when asked to speak publicly, my least favorite thing in the


whole world. Im not trying to blow my own horn by telling you this. Im
telling you this because if I, the kid who grew up in total fear, the kid
who lived with uncontrollable anxiety, can do it, I know you can do it,
too. I know that you have greatness in you. I know that you want to
achieve success in your life. I know that this thing called fear is likely
holding you back. Im here to tell you that fear is only as powerful as the
story you weave around and through it. Short circuit that story, go out
and do what youve always wanted to do, and Im telling you, you will
be so surprised. Youll realize that just because youre thinking or
feeling a certain way, those thoughts and feelings dont define your
results. The only things that can define that or stop you from reaching
your personal success are the self-limiting stories you hold on to.
Theyre only stories, fragments of history enmeshed together to make
you believe theyre real. Me punching you in the face is real. The story
you choose to tell yourself about it is exactly that, whatever story you
decide to tell yourself.

Now, get out there and just fucking do it! Implement this four step plan.
Success is yours for the taking.

Just Fucking Do It Anyway Cycle of Success

Something happens.
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Feelings/Sensations/Thoughts arise.
An emotional response begins.
You recognize it and label it, Ah, fear.
You dont do anything more with the label.
You stay with how youre thinking and feeling, without judgement
(i.e., no story).

You embrace the fullness of how you feel, dont run from it, and just
fucking do what you were about to do anyway.

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Intentional Success
Q: Hey, Rodney, what do I need to do to have an awesome boxing
game like you?

A. Simply dedicate yourself to the craft for four hours a day for the
next 10 years, and you will!

People usually get quite quiet after this or more often than not, its
common to have a barrage of excuses come flying at me.

Heres the thing, do you want to be successful?

The truth: success doesnt happen by accident. You must become


intentional about creating the right behaviors to ensure that it happens.
Intention means taking action. Yet as obvious as this sounds, this is the
biggest stumbling block for most people: taking action.

Just the other day, I downloaded a free ebook about achieving success
in the inner game. The whole book was filled with affirmations. Really?!
Give me a break. How is memorizing a bunch of fake it til you make it
affirmations going to help you succeed? It wont, for two reasons. One:
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youre likely lying to yourself anyway. If you dont have the right skills,
knowledge, motivation, etc. - or you arent doing anything to get them
- lying to yourself wont magically create them either. Secondly, these
kinds of so-called success affirmations lack action. Repeating positive
mantras to yourself wont make you get your ass up off the couch and
make shit happen.

You want to make stuff happen? Want to achieve your goals and live
your dreams? Then start by setting an intention every single morning
when you wake up. An intention isn't an affirmation; its a plan. As I
always tell my students, Luck is for people who dont have a plan.

When I started boxing at the age of 16, everyone was far more skilled at
it than I was. I was training at a boxing gym in the midst of the city, and
everyone there was hungry to succeed as a way to get out of their
impoverished neighborhoods. My coach, Willie Toweel, didnt take
kindly to slackers either, so I knew right away that in order to not only
survive the training but also the sparring matches in the ring, I had to
develop a plan to improve.

I didnt leave my success to chance. I got to the gym earlier than


anyone else and when I didnt have to be at school, I was the last one
to leave. To be truthful, I often skipped school just to stay at the gym. I
broke the game down as best as I could and kept a journal, writing
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down not only what I learned but what I needed to work on. I then set
an intention to develop specific parts of my game each and every single
day, no exceptions. This plan meant catching the first bus to town at
5:30 AM. It meant arriving late to school every day (when I actually
went) to face the wrath of the principal. But excelling at boxing and
martial arts was what I wanted more than air itself.

When you want to achieve success in a specific area of your life, it can
be overwhelming. What you see as the pinnacle of success can seem so
far away. Youre left asking yourself, How am I ever going to get there?
That kind of thinking can make you believe that the endeavor is simply
impossible. As badly as you want to achieve your goal, it seems
completely unattainable. What I learned about setting intentions for
boxing is this: although you have an end goal in sight, you want to
focus your attention on the process. The destination is important as it
keeps you focused on the end result (See vision board in Chapter 4),
but the journey is far more important.

As simple as this may sound, what allowed me to succeed was focusing


on the journey, the process. I knew that I had zero talent for the boxing
game. Hey, I was the kid who was never chosen for a sports team in
school. I had two left feet. I also knew that as insurmountable as it
seemed to become good at boxing, I was able to break the process
down as best I could and start with the things easiest to succeed in.
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This is the secret to succeeding at anything at life. Decide what you


want most, be completely pragmatic about it, and break it down - as
best as you can - into steps that lead up to the end goal. The first steps
you create shouldn't focus on the things you know you can do.
Following this strategy in my boxing training, I knew that I could start
with the jab and cross, move to my footwork next, then learn to
defensively block punches thrown at me, and focus on evading punches
later on. I didnt begin by targeting my evasiveness on day one. Why?
Because thats a skill that can only be developed once you know how to
move, aret afraid to hit back, and have the confidence to deal with
oncoming strikes.

Most people fall short of success because they want to start either
where success happens or one step away from where success is certain
(See the problem with perfection in Chapter 4). That would be like me
going into a boxing gym at age 16, something I had never done before
in my life, turning to the coach, and saying, Whos the champion here?
Put me in the ring with him. What do you think wouldve happened? I
probably wouldve gotten seriously hurt, beat up, quit that very day,
and abandoned my dream of mastering the sweet science of boxing.

The opposite is also true. Unlike those of us who jump in the deep end
too quickly, too many people wait for perfection. They spend so much
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time trying to make everything perfect before they launch into the
unknown that they never achieve anything because they never actually
go out and try to. This is why Im a huge proponent of deciding on a
goal, breaking it down into logical steps, and starting with things you
know you can achieve. And yes, it will take work, but focus on getting
those steps down and then move on to the next step. This is nothing
like waiting for perfection before you make a move. It is setting an
intention each and every day, an action plan, to work on things you
know you can achieve, and then as soon as you feel yourself getting it
(even if its not 100% perfect yet), you move to the next step. When you
add up all those small steps, before you know it, youve achieved your
goal.

Most importantly, setting an intention requires accountability. When I


set an intention for the following day and decide to focus on specific
first moves or steps to reach my goal, I complete them the following
day - no excuses. I achieve my goals, whether it takes me 30 minutes or
3 hours. This is the kind of tenacity that success requires. Crucially,
though, as I said before, your steps must focus on the areas in which
you can achieve success. You begin each successive step with the
confidence of knowing that you completed and achieved all the steps
that came before. Each progressive step should address what you
consider to be harder, further up the ladder, closer to your goal, kind of
steps. This wont make achieving your goals any less challenging, but
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because youve set the intention with a step-by-step manageable game


plan from the onset, you WILL be able to reach them.

So, what you waiting for? Pull out a piece of paper, write down your end
goal, and begin reverse engineering the process. If you dont know
what that would look like, ask someone or, better yet, ask a bunch of
people whove already achieved the goal youre striving for. What steps
did they take, from the easiest, most attainable ones to the most
complex. Then, set an intention each and every day to work though that
list, starting at the bottom and progressively moving up, week by week,
until (before you even realize it) youve arrived at your goal. Once
youve achieved it, choose your next goal and repeat the process.

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Get Your Voodoo On: Ritualize!


Im all about rituals. I simply dont think it is possible to be successful at
anything, particularly martial arts, without them. In the old days, I used
to go into the gym, throw on my boxing gloves, climb into the ring, and
spar. On some days, I would have good performances and, on other
days, not so good. What often confused me was the fact that these
good and bad performances were against the same opponents. Now,
unless my opponent miraculously improved his boxing game overnight,
something else had to be going on.

Aside from my inner story throwing me off (as discussed in Chapter 1) or


trying a technique that was way out of my depth (as discussed in
Chapter 2), it was clear that my performance was directly linked to how
focused my mind was on that particular day. I quickly realized that it was
simply not possible to transition from my day outside the gym to
immediately becoming hyper focused and jumping into an incredibly
stressful experience like someone throwing punches at your face or
trying to choke you out.

Our minds are naturally unfocused. I bet right now, as youre reading
this, youre thinking about other things, too. These days, most of us
cant stay focused on one thing long enough to see it through. Like
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right now, I bet the TV is on in the background, or youre checking your


phone. The fact that our attention and focus are all over the place
makes it even more difficult to achieve success. Every single highachieving, highly successful person, no matter whether in the ring or in
a corporate career, will tell you that success requires laser-like focus.

In the previous chapter, I advised setting an intention for each day.


Thats all well and good, but when you wake up, the kids are screaming,
the phone is ringing off the hook, and your wife is moaning at you for
not cutting the lawn. Well, before you know it, your attention is
elsewhere, and you can quickly forget all about the intentions you set
for the day. Having a ritual, then, is a shortcut to ensuring that you stay
on track and feel focused, inspired, and energized so that you can
achieve your intention.

A ritual is something you create thats intentional. Its what you do,
without question, each time you know you have to perform. In terms of
intention-setting, performance is in the action steps. Any time you take
action, youre performing, whether for yourself or others, and it takes a
decisive mindset to achieve. Once I learned that just showing up at the
gym and throwing on my gloves to spar was a bad idea, I began to
create a pre-sparring ritual. On my way to the gym, I would listen to a
specific music playlist that I created and only ever listened to before
sparring. My choice of music was focused on lyrics that amped me up
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and prepared body for action. (Just ask the guys who roll or spar with
me every week, they dread Eminem, but they are even more afraid of
Elvis.)

Once I arrived at the gym, I wrapped my hands in the same sequence


every time, starting with the left and then moving on to the right. Even
putting on my gloves became a ritual. First the left, then the right. Next,
my mouthguard went in, followed by a quick warm up and three deep
exhales. And then: boom! I was in the ring, focused and ready to go.
This ritual was so successful, like magic even, that I started creating
rituals for every important thing in my life. I have a ritual before I go on
stage to coach, a ritual before Im interviewed, and the list goes on. You
get the point.

Rituals are like full body, mental and physical, inner warm-ups for the
fight ahead. Just like you would never exercise or spar without warming
up your body, you should never go into a performance, like speaking to
people who matter, a business meeting, a presentation etc, without
doing some inner warm-ups. Rituals get your head in the game. They
focus your mind on whats about to happen. Much like a pre-workout
warm-up for your body, rituals ensure that you dont injure your mind.

The fact that most peoples minds are all over the place all the time
means that its really hard for them to just switch on and become
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focused. We all know that we do our best work and achieve the most
gains when were focused. But because its so tough to lock into focus,
entering into something you know is important without an inner warm
up can be disastrous. If you typically second guess yourself in the
situation youre about to face, or your thinking mind usually goes crazy
with past or future thoughts, expect things to be even worse if you
dont set your mind for success before you start. This is why a ritual is so
essential. Its about setting your mind for success before youre called
upon to perform.

I know from my own experience that if I set an intention or intentions for


the following day and then pop out of bed in the morning, trying to
make them all happen right way, things often dont turn out well. But if I
start my day with a success ritual, a ritual I crafted to help me focus for
the day on achieving and doing my best, then accomplishing the
intentions Ive set for myself becomes far more manageable.
Sometimes, when my day isn't going well, I take 5 minutes out to do
what I call a reset ritual. Yup, I have one of those too.

I learned the value of a reset ritual from my sparring experiences. If you


know anything about boxing or mixed martial arts, or if youve ever had
to spar a few rounds, you know there are breaks between the rounds.
And those one minute breaks can feel like a lifetime. Its not uncommon
for a person to overthink what just happened during the previous
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round. As they begin to think about what happened, they may get
down on themselves and frustrated with their performance. Not only
does this take their focus away from the present moment (See Chapter
1), it also ensures that they will go into the next round thinking about all
the wrong stuff and likely second guess themselves. I cant tell you how
many times this has happened to me, so I decided to do something
about it. I created a reset ritual, or between round routine, that allowed
me to let go of everything that happened during the previous round,
enabling me to become centred and stay present while avoiding
steering into thoughts of what might happen in the next round. Its like
having voodoo magic over your opponent. Harnessing this approach
can completely derail your opponent. Perhaps he performed really well
in the first round and thinks youll likely come into the second round
feeling slightly defeated, only to find that youre not. You are there,
baby, and 100% ready to go. Boooooooom!

This approach can be applied throughout your life, not just in the
boxing ring. Lets say youre in a tough meeting, things didnt go so
well, and theres a break before you have to go back in. Instead of
stuffing yourself with pastries or horrible cheap coffee, find a quiet
place and walk yourself through your reset ritual. When you have to
give your next presentation, don't go in cold. Make sure you do your
pre-presentation ritual. Your ritual can include whatever you like, as long
as:
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Its positive.
Its designed specifically to get you feeling pumped for the
experience youre about to have.

It's novel. Dont be boring. Create an experience that will tell your
whole being that its time to kick ass. Rituals can include music,
clothing, food, videos, etc. Feel free to combine them however you
like.

Its used only for that specific experience youre preparing for. Dont
use the same ritual for every important event. Doing this trivializes
the ritual and dilutes its impact.

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Live For The Booooooom!


The boom of life is explosive. Its unpredictable, and it can change at a
moments notice. This is exactly why you need to get clear on what you
REALLY want and NEED in your life. What will it look like when youre
successful, when youve finally arrived? Don't just say it, see it.

I have a vision board in my office. That board features everything I want


to achieve: the next house I want to live in; the off-the-grid, selfsufficient farm I dream of owning; and the next audience of
entrepreneurs I strive to reach. Seeing that vision board every morning
as I walk into my office keeps me motivated. When I tie my vision into
feeling the fear and doing it anyway (See Chapter 1), knowing that my
intentions for the day will bring me one more step closer to that vision
(See Chapter 2), and ensuring that I energize my body and mind to take
on the day by completing my rituals (See Chapter 3), I know deep in my
heart that success is achievable.

That said, much of what Ive learned about success is an attitude. My


favorite saying in the whole world is:

I live for the boooooooom!


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The boooooooom means so many things to me. I get a charge from


the excitement of working on my aspirations. I love the challenge,
especially when I achieve something everyone told me would be
impossible, like those miserable teachers who told me I would never
amount to anything. Im completing my PhD, so take that.

Living for the Booooooooom also means having grit, especially when
things get tough and dont go your way. (Welcome to life.) Its about
holding yourself accountable for your own actions, even when making
an excuse and blaming others is far easier. As a martial artist and coach,
I know that I cant ask someone to do something unless I'm prepared to
do it myself. When I tell my students whats required physically,
mentally, and emotionally to spar a tough opponent who has the
potential to kick their ass, I know from firsthand experience, because
Ive fought some of the toughest people on the planet.

There were tons of times when I was afraid, tons of times when I
believed I couldn't take on a particular opponent. But I did. What stood
out to me most was that I was never actually afraid of getting hurt, the
one thing I shouldve been afraid of. In fact, when my students are really
honest with themselves, they realize that theyre not afraid of being
physically hurt either. That's not what makes them afraid of sparring an
opponent.

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Our fears are almost always created psychologically and are often
completely irrational: the fear of looking bad in front of others, of
messing up and looking like a failure, of saying were going to achieve
something and then not doing it. Thats why its easier to create an
excuse - blaming others, circumstances, lack of resources, or lack of
know-how - than to say, I failed myself.

You can make as many as you like, but no amount of excuses ever
helped anyone overcome obstacles or achieve personal success. So, as
basic as it sounds, you can either make excuses and live a life of
mediocrity or accept life as imperfect and go for what you want.
Fearlessness is an attitude. It doesnt suggest that fear doest exist but
rather accepts fear as always there, like it or not. So, you can either
move toward what you want or allow fear to hold you back.

The heart of living the booooooom lies in recognizing that imperfection


is just what is needed to achieve success. You need the contrast. As
Thomas Carlyle noted, Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait
till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis,
advancing nowhere. In other words, if you want to wait until everything
is perfect before you move toward what you want most in your life diet, mindset, resources, knowledge - well, get ready, because youe
going to be waiting for a long time. When you finally wake up and

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realize the fatal flaw of this strategy, life will have passed you by and
windows of opportunities closed.

Allow me to let you in on something they never told you in school:


perfection is the enemy of success.

Simply put: If we strive for perfection before committing to action,


were all but guaranteed to never achieve anything worthwhile. Dont
get me wrong: Im not against perfection. Im simply trying to draw
attention to the fact that waiting for the perfect moment or striving for
perfection can keep us stuck where we are: in the mud of life. In other
words, the ideal of perfection should never serve as fodder for inaction
(remember what we said about setting intentions in Chapter 2).

Rather than waiting for perfection, you're much better served to


prepare as best you can - by managing your fears, setting intentions,
and utilizing your rituals - and then begin by taking the first step while
maintaining your awareness of any errors or missteps along the way.
Use your action and interaction with the world around you as a source
of feedback and then course correct as you go. Aim for constant
improvement rather than striving for the impossible ideal of pure
perfection.

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As both a successful martial artist and entrepreneur, Ive realized that if


you're ever going to reach your goals in the ring, in business, or in life,
you must begin by accepting that peak performancesuccess itselfis
a process steeped in imperfection. Perfection is an illusion. Nothing has
taught me that more powerfully than my career as a martial artist for
over two decades. In martial arts training, for example, we try to get as
close to perfection as possible, but in actual application - when faced
with a real, uncooperative, resisting opponent - we seek only a
satisfactory approximation of the perfect ideal. In other words, while
perfection is something to strive for, it will never be achieved, at least
not in the way we imagine. And when things dont turn out like we
imagined, we return to the same old excuses. Like it or not, we simply
dont have that degree of control over anything in our lives.

My personal journey to embracing the mess (i.e., imperfection) began


when I read this quote by philosopher Alan Watts: To Taoism, that
which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for
without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao [the
way]. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely
perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such
concepts exist.

I cant tell you how long it took me to fully grasp this. Im not even sure
I like the uneasy truth of it. But, anyone whos practiced martial arts and
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whos sparred with great skill knows that however successful you might
be in training, all of your training can quickly fall by the wayside the
moment you face a real opponent. In a real fight, with all of its
unpredictability and chaos, often the best laid plans of fighters instantly
evaporate. Sounds a lot like business and life, too, eh?

Knowing this, what can we do about it?

Rather than try to overcome imperfection, one should learn to embrace


it, to see its beauty. The Japanese have a wonderful term for this:
wabi-sabi, an ability to perceive beauty in imperfection. The character
Katsumoto in the The Last Samurai captures this understanding. Early in
the movie he says, The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could
spend your life looking for one." But toward the end of the movie, as
he gazes upon thousands of cherry blossoms, and with his dying breath,
he says, Perfect . . . they are all . . . perfect. He has come to
understand that perfection is an illusion and that there is great beauty
and possibility in imperfection.

In life, we are constantly pushed to achieve perfection. Mistakes are


often ridiculed, or worse, punished. Everyone who has suffered through
Western schooling will recognize this intense and relentless focus on
getting things just right and avoiding the scourge of mistakes. As
author and motivational consultant, Marcus Buckingham, notes, when a
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child comes home with a report card, parents typically focus more on
the Ds or Fs than on the Bs or As. As a child, youre sent for extra
lessons in the subjects youre struggling with. Instead of taking this
approach, Buckingham advises that parents focus on their childs
strengths: You grow the most in the area where you already show
some natural advantage, some natural area of talent or strength or
passion. That's where you start. And the research agrees. According to
a survey of more than two million people, Gallup researchers
discovered that while weakness-fixing can prevent failure, its strengthbuilding that actually leads to success in the short- and long-term.

The paradox, however, is that in order to find those strengths, you have
to be willing and allowed to make mistakes, to embrace imperfection.
Through this experience, you can discover what youre really good at.
So, while we strive for perfection in the future, we embrace
imperfection in the present, using it as building blocks for growth and
development. Research confirms, again and again, that superstars - in
any field - did not start out with overwhelming talent. Sure, they might
have started with a slight edge, but the real difference in the long run is
that they simply worked much, much harder than the rest of us. They
embraced their imperfection as well as their slight edge and built on
that. To be sure, this principle of building on imperfection applies to all
areas of our lives, including our hobbies and professions.

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At its heart, wabi-sabi implies not only that perfection is an illusion but
that trying to be perfect actually leads to stagnation, as Alan Watts
noted. While we may not live in a perfect world, we do live in a world
filled with possibilities. But moving from possibilities to real
accomplishments requires action, not action tomorrow when you think
everything will be perfect but rather action right now, when you know
everything isnt perfect. As bestselling author and personal
development trainer, Marie Forleo, noted, so many budding
entrepreneurs fail because they never get started. They are constantly
waiting for things to be perfect. As I mentioned earlier, perfection is the
enemy of action.

First as a martial artist and later as an entrepreneur, I learned the hard


way that I will never be 100% ready for anything. This is true for all of
us, including you. You have to take some risk, launch yourself into
action, and then figure out the rest as you go along. Marc Ecko,
American fashion designer, entrepreneur, and artist, in a video interview
with Chase Jarvis, said much the same thing when he talked about
taking action, telling his team that all they need to do is just get in
the vicinity . . . like 70 percent, and then, because I know I am smart
enough, or we are self-aware enough, that we will make up that delta
between the 70 and the 100 percent.

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I realize how scary this can be for many people. But its not their fault.
Theyve been conditioned to believe that everything has to be just
right before they can move to the next level. This belief is often
created by schooling and reinforced by parenting. As adults, we belong
to a society designed to ensure continued conformity. Every single
piece of advertising and marketing repeatedly tells us that imperfection
is bad and that perfection is not only possible but easily achievable.
Just think of the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines. We
all know that no one really looks so perfect in real life. Marketing is
designed to make us feel inadequate in terms of our own identities and
circumstances.

Krishnamurti, a spiritual teacher, observed: One is never afraid of the


unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end. And so they
search for more knowledge and hold onto what they already know' in
the vain hope of finding answers, even when the answers' are no
longer applicable to their current situation. It reminds me of the famous
quote attributed to Einstein, something to the effect of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different
results.

Ironically, the true application of knowledge, whether in the ring, in


business, or in life, requires translating, or transforming, knowledge
from the thinking mind into embodied action. And heres the clincher: in
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order to translate knowledge into action, we have to move into the


unknown. In other words, theres really no way to hold onto tangible
knowledge once you decide to express it through the body in action.

As the late Richard Feynman, a world-renowned physicist, so eloquently


put it: I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it
is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that
might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain
unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become
enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day,
but remain always uncertain. . . . In order to make progress, one must
leave the door to the unknown ajar.

A good starting point is to accept the fact that just because something
might seem imperfect doesnt mean it's unworkable. Applying
knowledge, therefore, requires action. And action, by its very nature,
always takes place in the present moment, where neither answers (past)
nor questions (future) exist. The present moment is also precisely where
wabi-sabi resides. The beauty of imperfection, then, calls on us to fully
embrace the moment. And as anyone who has tried to live in the
moment realizes, it takes a lot of practice. You can increase your
chances of succeeding more in the moment if you follow the 4 ideas
presented in this ebook.

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Learn to manage your fear, not control it.


Set daily intentions.
Build powerful rituals to create success.
See imperfection as an opportunity to excel. Craft a vision board,
too, to keep yourself focused on those goals, especially in times of
unpredictability.

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Final Thoughts
The 4 strategies Ive shared with you in this short ebook have helped
me achieve great success, as a modern martial artist, entrepreneur, and
now wannabe author. (Remember, I never finished high school.)

Ive used these 4 strategies to grab life by the balls and win
unconventionally. I say unconventionally because most of whats out
there in in terms of success strategies doesn't work. The strategies I
present in this ebook do, and Im living proof of that.

Of course, these 4 strategies are not the full story. There are many more
principles I share each and every day in my talks and coaching gigs
around the world. You can find out more about them here:

www.coachrodneyking.com or www.embodiedgrowthhacks.com

If you think you wont have the opportunity to train with me, even
virtually, then check out my book, Full Contact Living, where I share
even more strategies to right hook life:

www.fullcontactliving.org/book

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If youre into martial arts and using your martial arts game to become a
success in life, check out my online 10X Martial Arts Game membership
program here:

www.coachrodneyking.com/10-x-your-martial-art-game

Finally, if you have success with anything Ive shared here, please let me
know. I would love to hear from you. Now go out there, right hook life,
and nail it between the legs. I know you can.

To Your Success!

Rodney King
rodney@coachrodneyking.com

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About Coach Rodney King


Rodney holds a Masters Degree in
Leading Innovation and Change
from York St. John Universitys
School of Business. He is currently a
doctoral student, pursuing his Ph.D.
at the University of Leicesters School
of Management. His research topic
is Embodied Leadership with a
specific focus on mindfulness as
applied to leadership in action.

Rodney is an internationally renowned martial arts and leadership


coach. He has worked with Army Special Forces on developing highperformance mindsets during intense engagement. He has instructed
law enforcement officers in the United States, Canada, and Germany on
how to protect themselves when all else fails. He has worked closely
with corporate executives, emerging leaders, and CEOs to raise their
Inner Game and gain the winning edge, both mentally and emotionally,
to enhance their careers.

After starting his first company at age 18, Rodney went on to develop
coaching courses for modern martial arts, leadership development, and
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business success tools now taught and utilized in more than 15


countries around the world.

Author, husband, and father of two boys, Rodney is one of the leading
experts in his field, a modern-day warrior who teaches the original
intention of martial arts as a life performance tool.

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