“The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game” by Sam Sheridan

Book Notes

Reading Log: The Fighter’s Mind #

I finished reading Sam Sheridan’s The Fighter’s Mind this morning. I’m reviewing some highlights and thought it’d be worth sharing a few with thoughts. (For context, I read half the book earlier this year and last year and the other half after picking it back up a few weeks ago.)

I mentioned the book previously in these posts:

This first highlight is about belief and the power of thinking something is possible in the first place.

Imagination is a crucial component, oft overlooked. If you can’t imagine running a four-minute mile, how can you ever run it? Gandhi said, “Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability.”

I’ve written about Anthony De Mello’s book Awareness previously and the story that sticks with me from that book the most is in the foreward, mentioning a story from his other book Song of the Bird.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.”

Now, if this were a Disney movie, that’s when the chicken-eagle would rise up and lead the chickens to fly and become an eagle-like flock themselves.

But it’s not.

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.

I’m mentioning this because The Fighter’s Mind has a lot about what different fighter’s think when they enter fights. What they think about their opponents going in. Underestimating and overestimating things.

One great way to lose a fight is to think you can’t win it in the first place.

One of the people profiled in The Fighter’s Mind is Greg Jackson, who’s trained some legends. He deeply believes in the growth mindset. Even mental toughness can be learned:

“Sure, some people are already tougher and some folks just won’t get tough, but those are the novelties, on the statistical fringe. Most people are of average toughness and can get tougher. I saw it all the time as a kid. There were these guys who were supertough growing up. I looked up to them because they could take a crowbar to the face and keep fighting. But as I grew up, they stayed the same level. They were scrappers to the core, don’t get me wrong, but they never got any tougher. It was from their environment and they never worked on it. I could outdo them, outwork them, and they’d tire and break. It was a real revelation to me, that you can train mental toughness and work harder, that it doesn’t have to be born into you.”

I’m guessing plenty of fighters would disagree with that. I imagine people think you’re just born with it and it can’t change.

Which reminds me of the arguments around working very long hours. (Which I go back and forth between the camps of you can’t and it’s harmful (vs.) you definitely can and should if you want to be successful.) You can make your mind stronger but at the risk of burning out if you extend for too long.

Okay gotta run, more highlights later.