Muhammad Ali meant a lot to me, for reasons I have articulated here.

But his passing has touched me beyond mere grief. He really was a part of me.
And as I reflected on his life, watched every video and read every tribute, through the last few days, I realise that he shaped my attitude to not just life, but also work.

Here are 5 lessons I learned from having Ali as my hero. That stood me well during my career, and especially my entrepreneurial journeys.

Believe in yourself. Even when no one else does
Have faith that you can be the best. If you don’t believe, who else will? And why should they?

Stand up for your principles.
Even if they cost you fame or fortune. Or delay them. The rewards are sweeter and greater, when you fight on your terms and win, instead of taking the easy way out.

If you get knocked down, stand up again and keep fighting.
Persistence always wins. In the ring or outside. Take the punishment, but keep going. Wear the competition out. Keep jabbing at them, keep hurting them, till the moment you can deliver your own knockout blow.

It ain’t bragging if you can back it up. And backing it up is hard work.
No one bragged more than Muhammad Ali. No on backed it up more. And no one worked harder at being the greatest. Sustained success doesn’t come easy without toil. Even effortlessness needs great effort.

Do it with humour and panache.
Have a sense of fun. Be mischievous. Entertain. Because it does not have to be all sweat and tears. And it does not have to boring, to be all about efficiency, or ruthlessness. Rationality and pragmatism are over-rated, passion and poetry are under-rated.

Ali, every day, when I am faced with a difficult situation, I think of you. And wonder how you took so much. And kept on giving of yourself.

You will always be my hero.

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