12 quotes from Muhammad Ali we can learn from | Sacha Cabral

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday June 7, 2016 – The self-proclaimed greatest, Muhammad Ali, succumbed to his illness late on June 3. To some, he was a hero. To others, he was arrogant. No matter your feelings about Ali, he was a champion and an icon.

When the news broke about Ali’s death, social media was flooded with his plentiful quotes. You may not be a boxer or even an athlete. You may feel like you cannot connect with Ali but I’m sure you can relate to his quotes and apply them to your own life.

  1. “I don’t have to be who you want me to be. I’m free to be who I want.” Ali was infamous for breaking the mold. Quite often we put invisible chains on ourselves based on the opinions of others. Ali refused to do his and it lead him to success.
  2. “Colour doesn’t make a man a devil. It’s the heart and soul and mind that count. What’s on the outside is only decoration.” Ali had a controversial view on race especially due to his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, an African-American Islamic religious movement. Years later, Muhammad had to recant his feelings on race which led to this quote. I selected this quote because what you are on the outside – be it your race, ethnicity, or economic background – does not define you as a human being. It’s your intrinsic motivation to push forward and continue fighting.
  3. “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, rumble, young man, rumble.” Muhammad Ali would rhyme war chants against his competitors’ moments before entering the ring. This chant had to be his most famous. In life, grace, maturity, and elegance in your swagger is important in life however, you must know when to attack and when to go after what is yours.
  4. “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” Professional athletes like Muhammad Ali know that your mind is the strongest muscle you have. If you cannot envision yourself reaching great heights or defeating life-changing battles, your body will be unable to respond.
  5. “I am the greatest. I said that before I knew I was.” As cocky as Muhammad Ali may have appeared, he understood the power of affirmations on the mind and subsequently, the body. Be bold and be fearless in your goals for yourself. Remind yourself of them every day and self-actualization will follow.
  6. “Service to others is the rent that we pay on earth for our room in heaven” Muhammad Ali represented more than boxing. He represented more than being an athlete. He led his people. He inspired courage and bravery. His sense of community and paying his dues were clear. He was a man of the people. If you’re spending your time, your money, your energy on meaningless activities and ventures which will have no impact on your community or the world at large, you may be wasting your time.
  7. “The man who has no imagination has no wings.” As children becoming adults we are dissuaded against dreaming. We are taught to be realistic. No great man or woman because great by being realistic. Muhammad Ali was proof of this. Allow your imagination to take your mind places and your body will follow.
  8. “Don’t count the days. Make the days count.” So many of us are putting in our time. We’re punching the clock and checking our watches. We love Fridays and hate Mondays. This type of thinking drains you of your energy and imagination. Instead of dreading Monday, ask yourself, how can you make the most of this day? How can you make this day count?
  9. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Greatness happens outside of your comfort zone. Getting outside of your comfort zone involves taking risks. Be aware of how many decisions you make which keep you inside of your comfort zone.
  10. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” This is one of my favorites. Success is not about the big, grand steps we take in life. It’s about all the little ones that no one sees. It’s about training at 5am or burning the midnight oil on a project. To be a champion you will have to do things you do not enjoy while understanding that the end justifies the means.
  11. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”Muhammad Ali was told many things as a boxer. He was betted against, he was doubted. I firmly believe that his success in and outside of the ring came from an inner belief he had about himself. Don’t let societies beliefs dictate your life. Don’t let someone else determine what you can and cannot do. So often we listen to the opinions of others and believe them to be facts. We build invisible prisons around ourselves based on the short comings of others.
  12. “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” Life is not promised as it was not promised to Muhammad Ali. Tomorrow is a far off place that holds the hopes and dreams of so many people. If you want to make a change, if you want something different, begin working on it today.


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