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4 Fighting Instincts to Succeed in Business and Life

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An uppercut crashes into your jaw. Your fists clench your heart races and you feel adrenaline race inside. Time to fight.

Ivica Drusany /

Fighting brings out an instinctual, primordial power. But professional fighters know that the act of fighting isn't a crude flash of fury. To come out on top, a fighter must have courage, a strategy, tenacity and an indomitable will to succeed. The same traits that shape the greatest fighters also define the best entrepreneurs.

As a kid, I picked the brains of dozens of all-time greats like George Foreman and Roberto Durán, when my father, a brain surgeon, administered their pre-fight exams. The lessons I learned from them changed my life forever -- both in the ring and in the boardroom.

Now a successful entrepreneur and third-degree black belt, I know firsthand that the instincts of the greatest fighters can help overcome obstacles and achieve ambitions.

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Here are the four most powerful lessons to help you win the fight in business and life.

1. Embrace your fears. Mike Tyson's trainer Cus D'Amato taught him to embrace his fear. "The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, while the coward runs" D'Amato once told Tyson.

Fear is inevitable -- it's how you choose to respond that makes the difference. Your business will face crises and crossroads. Don't let that stop you. Make your fear your friend. When you embrace it, sit with it and truly feel your feel, it evaporates. Then you can tackle your challenges with a clear head

2. Win with strategy. Brute strength only goes so far. In the iconic Rumble in the Jungle, George Foreman was heavily favored to beat Muhammad Ali. He was bigger, faster, stronger and younger, but Ali had a plan. He leaned against the ropes and let Foreman pummel him. As the ropes absorbed Foreman's force, Ali saved his strength and went for the knock out.

In business, bigger isn't always better. A shrewd startup can outmaneuver a slow giant and grab an amazing opportunity. When you're facing unlikely odds, a smarter strategy can still win the day.

3. Stay in the fight. I once struggled with a crucial partnership deal -- things were turning for the worse and I became deeply despondent. Then I remembered the importance of fighting in such difficult times and an old Navy SEAL saying came to mind, "Once you get in a fight, you stay in a fight." I came back to myself, found my strength, went into fighter mode and salvaged the deal from the brink of disaster.

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Real fighters persevere through adversity and become stronger for it. Picking your fights is important, but once you've committed, stick it out. If your business takes a punch, come back two times harder. When retreat isn't an option, you'll find the will to win.

4. Battle against your own limits. The best fighters always push themselves further, even when they know that the worst enemy is inside. In business and in life, we grow not by competing with others but by continually raising our standards.

Always stay hungry: perfect your craft, learn new skills and meet new people. If your organization is good, push it to be great. Never settle for the status quo.

Stepping into the ring isn't for everyone, but we all face our battles. You won't win them all but by tapping into the right mindset, you'll win more than ever.

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