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Mentoring Minutes

What Would 'The Champ' Do?

When life gets tough, Chris reminds you
to stay in the fight

We can all learn something from people we admire.

Back in the early 1990s, during a very difficult period of my life, one of my mentors taught me a very important lesson.

I was in an airport en route to New York, trying to salvage a business relationship that appeared to be on the rocks. At that point in my career I'd have bet the bank that I could make this relationship work.

My business was growing, but so were overhead costs. I also had two kids at home, so the financial pressures on me were great. I had faith in my long-term business strategy, but in the meantime I was stretched thin and in jeopardy of losing 30 to 40 percent of my company's revenue.

As I made my way through baggage claim, I spotted one of my biggest heroes — Muhammad Ali.

In that instant I flashed back to my childhood, remembering when he was Cassius Clay and declaring, "I'm the greatest, I'm the prettiest." I felt 10 years old all over again.

I eventually mustered up the courage to speak to him.

"Where are you going, Champ?" I asked.

"I'm going to L.A.," he said, not missing a beat. "I'm announcing my comeback."

We enjoyed a laugh, but it was the only thing I could do to keep from crying. We sat and talked and I asked him if he'd ever been afraid.

"I'm scared now," he said. "I've got Parkinson's disease and there is no cure. But I'm still fightin'."

For a moment, I couldn't imagine comparing my woes to what the Champ was going through. But what he taught me that day has stayed with me and I often ask myself, what would the Champ do?

From then on, whenever doubt started creeping into my mind. I told myself, "It's not threatening your life, not threatening your health and, if the Champ says, ‘I'm fighting something right now with no cure,' you, Chris, can handle this situation."

I ended up retaining all of my business — and then some.

Just remember, you're never too old to have a hero. We can all look to our friends, family and those we admire for inspiration. If you don't have an example in your life right now, I'm more than happy to share my hero with you. His example may not dispel all of your worries, but it will help you stay in the fight.

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