My generation is soft.

Definitely not like Sugar Ray Leonard…

Sugar Ray Leonard Bus Run
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The Bus

As a child, Sugar Ray Leonard would wake up just like all of the other kids. He would get dressed for school just like all of the other kids. He would walk to the bus stop just like the all the other kids. But right there, as the bus pulled up, is where the similarities between Sugar Ray Leonard and all the other kids end.

The other children hurriedly crowded on to the bus and took their seats, but Sugar Ray would not. As the bus drove away, Sugar Ray took off. He ran behind the bus all the way to school. Every single day. Rain or shine. He became a six-time world champion boxer.

The other kids thought I was crazy, because I would run in the rain, snow—it didn’t matter. I did it because I didn’t just want to be better than the next guy, I wanted to be better than all the guys.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard was born in 1956, two years after my mother and father. Their generation was the one after the “greatest generation.” I shudder to think what my generation should be labeled.

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My generation expects instant gratification, no pain, and someone else to clean up their mess, rather it be mommy or the president. I’ve been there myself. In college (this was before I discovered Dave Ramsey), I ran up a $2000 credit card bill. I felt entitled to all sorts of shiny things and felt no obligation to pay for them. My father found the bill one day and I found out what getting a new one ripped feels like. He paid the bill and made me work for him to pay it off…at $5/hour. I estimate that I paid him back about $400 before we both lost count and moved on. I got off easy. And I got softer.

Sugar Ray Leonard shows us that we have to be willing to devote ourselves to the long haul. We must be willing to see absolutely no return on investment for many years. My generation wants it now…and wants someone else to give it to them. But that leads only to getting softer.

We have to stay completely and passionately dedicated to our vision even if we cannot see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. No one thought Sugar Ray Leonard could make it as a boxer. He was too small, too slow, and too poor. He proved them wrong…six times.

Sugar Ray Leonard wasn’t soft. He did not expect instant gratification. How could a child of only eight or nine expect to be a world champion tomorrow? He worked through the pain and did not expect anyone else to do anything for him. He kept working at his dream to the point that others thought he was insane and wasting his time.

Others thought he was insane. But Sugar Ray Leonard knew that insane dedication leads to insane success.

What are you insanely dedicated to no matter what the naysayers say?

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21 thoughts on “Lesson from Sugar Ray Leonard | Insane Dedication = Insane Success

  1. Bret Wortman says:

    Wow. Just, wow. I need to find a good excuse to teach this story to my cub scouts this year and start changing more lives than just my own kids’!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I think that would be awesome.

      I’d love to hear how it goes Bret.

  2. Todd Liles says:

    I’m insanely dedicated to personal growth. You have to fight against the odds, and keep fighting. My friends have called me a bulldog. I like that. I am also very passionate about helping others grow, even when they don’t want to. I have also been called the nicest mean person you will ever meet. I like that too.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I prefer the meanest nice person 🙂

      I love this Todd!

      1. Todd Liles says:


      2. Todd Liles says:

        Good call

    2. Me too Todd. What strategies do you use to help others grow when the don’t want to? I need a few new ones.

      1. Todd Liles says:

        Jim, I shared the answer up top. Hope this helps!

    3. Joshua Rivers says:

      Personal growth is a vital part of our lives. At least it should be. I strive for this as well. God bless!

      1. Todd Liles says:

        God Bless you Joshua!

  3. Joshua Rivers says:

    I don’t know if I’m insanely dedicated. I’m dedicated, and some may say that I’m insane. I work too much, and in the wrong hours of the day for my family. So, I’m working harder to make a new path. A path that involves doing something I love AND have time with my family.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Some might consider working hard to spend more time with your family means you are insanely dedicated to them Josh. Keep that in mind and do it!

  4. Todd Liles says:

    Jim, thanks for the question, and it is a big question that has no small answer. But, I’ll do my best to give a short list:
    1. Find a motivator to make them. It is going to be painful. Comfortable people don’t change until.
    2. Teach them enough that they are able to change. Ignorance is not bliss.
    3. Hold them accountable. Back to painful. (I will charge extra money to my clients for failure on a task. My charges are still less than the money they are losing.)
    4. Point to a graduation date. A goal with no end is a miserable thing.
    5. Kick them out and move on if you have to.
    If you want more, head over to the website and check out the blogs below
    http://toddliles.com/the-easier-way-to-get-team-member-buy-in.html, http://toddliles.com/fear-and-intoxication-the-dynamic-duo-of-bad-life-choices.html, http://toddliles.com/moses-taught-how-to-build-a-lasting-legacy.html , http://toddliles.com/successful-training-method-for-those-that-hate-role-plays.html

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Dude this is awesome. Great question @jryan2445:disqus! Thanks for answering Todd.

    2. Nice Todd! I like the posts you included, well done. Boy if we could find an easy way to get people to change we be billionaires.

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        It’s not easy but I’m pretty sure that is why most billionaires are billionaires. And why most decamillionaires are decamillionaires.

      2. Todd Liles says:

        There is no easy way to get people to change. Jesus was speaking to this topic when he said “Don’t throw your pearls before swine.” Now, don’t stop caring. He also showed us how to love with the cross.

      3. Love that Todd. When Buddha was asked how get people to change, he said that its like working with race horses. Some won’t go no matter what you do. Some run when you hit them with a stick. Some will take off as soon as they are put on the track. Focus your efforts on those horses. I love that and who would have thought they raced horses 2,500 years ago. Ha

  5. Carol Dublin says:

    I have to agree with the others – I am passionate about learning and growing and getting better – whether that’s physically (through running) or mentally (through reading, writing, attending conferences, webinars, etc.). I am also insanely dedicated to surrounding myself with people who challenge me to improve – which you do with every post!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Wow, thank you Carol. That means a lot.

      Your dedication to surrounding yourself with the right people is probably the most important thing to be dedicated to because it impacts literally everything else!

      Bowl full of awesomeness.

  6. Jon Stolpe says:

    I am insanely dedicated to our employees no matter what. I want to create a culture in my office where people are proud to work, where people feel appreciated, where people want to give the best because they’ve been treated the best.

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