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2015Rodney King

Right Hook Life & Nail It Between The Legs:

Your Guide to Grabbing Life by the Balls and Winning


[In 4 Simple Steps]

To say that Ive lived an unconventional life is an understatement.

Growing up on the gritty streets of the South Side of Johannesburg,

South Africa in government housing (similar to housing projects in the

US) taught me early on that how smart you are means nothing and how

tough you are means everything. I was bullied relentlessly as a kid, to

the point where I had to have secret routes from school and within my

neighborhood just to make it home safely. But home wasnt safe either.

My mother a raging alcoholic would fly into fits of anger, smashing

things against the wall or more frequently, my head. When I was 17,

during yet another one of her drunken rages, she kicked me out of the

house. Destitute, alone, and with less than $20 in my pocket, I found

myself sleeping on a bench in the park where I used to play as a kid.

My future, if I even had one, consisted of a giant neon sign blinking,

FAILURE. I was destined to become another statistic, eaten up by

poverty, poor parenting, and lack of education.

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But somehow, I beat the odds and proved everyone wrong. Although I

didnt know it then, through my passion for martial arts and the lessons

learned on the mat, in the ring, and on the streets, I would reach the

pinnacle of personal and professional success.

What follows is my hard-hitting, unconventional system for success

borne out of my hard-knock, unconventional journey to the top. Its a

no-holds-barred approach to winning the martial arts of everyday life on

your own terms!

One piece of advice This is something I tell all my students:

The answers are easy, but the practice is hard.

People love to overcomplicate success. It cant be that easy, they say.

The tools for success arent difficult to understand, but they are hard to

master. Bottom line: I can provide you with the best-in-class tools, but

unless you put them into action, unless you practice, you wont see any

success. So, lets get real and get ready to hustle!

Rodney King, 2015

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Right Hook Life 02

2. Feel The Fear And Just Fucking Do It Anyway 05

3. Intentional Success 20

4. Get Your Voodoo On: Ritualize! 26

5. Live For The Boooooooom! 32

6. Final Thoughts 43

7. About Coach Rodney King 45

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Feel The Fear And Just Fucking Do It Anyway

Lets not mince words. Life can be a fucking scary place. Fear can be

such a debilitating emotion that it can stop you dead in your tracks.

There I was, 20 years old, fresh out of the military, standing outside a

nightclub as the bouncer. Did I mention that the entrance age for the

club was 24? Yeah. I was shitting myself.

Lets just think about that for a second. I was the kid who was bullied

relentlessly. Having my head flushed in the toilet and being cornered on

the way home and beaten senseless were daily occurrences. Things got

so scary that I started to skip school, feigning dozens of made up

illnesses. When I saw the bullies coming my way, I would search for an

escape route and haul ass, running as fast as I could, only to hear them

laugh and heckle me as I did.

And at age 20, there I was, a bouncer. An occupation of violence. In

other words, tossing the assholes and troublemakers out of the club.

The most polite thing I did was punch them really hard in the face just


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My first night on the job, shit started with a group of guys whod been

drinking way too much and decided it would be fun to pinch a girls

butt as she walked by. Needless to say, the girls boyfriend wasnt

impressed. The call went out, and my fellow bouncers and I were there

in seconds to break things up. As we escorted the troublemaker and

his friends out of the club, the head asshole turned to me and said,

What the fuck do you think youre going to do, you little wanker?

Looks like theyre hiring children at this club.

To be honest, my knees were shaking so hard, I thought I was about to

fall down. My stomach was churning, and I felt sick. My mouth was dry,

and I broke out in a cold sweat. To make matters worse, or likely

because of it, the head asshole was built like a brick shithouse. And

there I was, all 170 pounds of me, ready to throw up. I was so scared

and nervous that I didnt think Id be able to move.

The head asshole opened his mouth again and started to move toward

me with his hand beginning to raise up, and there it was mid-flight a

right hook aimed straight at my head. I ducked, popped up, and with

one well placed right hook of my own, I floored him. Twenty minutes

later, they still couldnt wake him up.

Now, Im certainly not saying you should go around punching people

left and right, nor am I glorifying violence. On that day, I was defending

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myself, but that experience made a crucial impression on me as the

years went on. The lesson wasnt immediately evident that day, but over

time, as I had more similar experiences, it became clear to me that just

because youre afraid,' it doesnt mean you can't make shit happen.

That old saying, feel the fear and do it anyway, took on a vivid, dare I

say visceral, meaning.

Although I cant know for certain, I can assume that as a fellow human

being, we share similar thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Some of

these emotions, such as fear, may arise from situations that remind us of

past traumatic experiences, or our thinking mind can talk us into a fear

state. In the latter scenario, what we tell ourselves internally kicks off a

fear response. In the former, our body responds first, only to have our

thinking mind classify that response as fear later on.

Looking back, the guy I faced that night was actually scary looking, but

he also reminded me of the guys who bullied me growing up. Before I

could even process why I was so scared, my body went into survival

mode as a way of letting me know, Weve been here before. I

immediately began scanning my body and mind to make sense of why I

was feeling the way I was, and my only conclusion was that I was afraid:

afraid that I didnt have what it would take to handle that guy. Luckily

though, I didnt have enough time to reflect on my fear in the moment.

In a way, that asshole did me a favor. His quick reaction time between

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insulting me and throwing that punch didnt give me much time to

assess my fear. I simply had to react, without much thought to how I

was feeling. Given more time, I might have allowed my thoughts to

undermine my ability to react and therefore chickened out.

Two lessons stand out from this experience, but they are also,

essentially, one. (Now theres a Yogi Berra-style statement for you!) Our

thoughts can trigger fear, or the physiological changes that typically

take place in a fear response can happen first, and we then interpret

them as signs of fear. They may seem different, but in fact, theyre

virtually the same. The common denominator in both is the story, or

narrative, we create. The story leads to fear, or feelings lead by a story

become fear. But heres the thing, and it may seem confusing at first: its

only when we begin with fear-inducing thoughts, or we interpret or

label a series of feelings as fear, that true FEAR emerges.

Allow me to explain Every week I have to stand up in front of people I

dont know in different parts of the world and coach them. Since I take

what I do very seriously, its not uncommon for me to experience

butterflies, notice my heart rate elevate, sense clamminess on my

hands, and feel my mouth dry up. This is my body recognizing stress

and preparing for a performance. Sometimes, these internal stirrings

are mild, but before a big event, theyre much more pronounced. I have

two choices in that moment: I can interpret those feelings and

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sensations as fear and anxiety, or I can view them as indicators of

excitement. Theres a stimulus (the upcoming coaching event) and a

thinking response (my thoughts about fear or excitement). My response,

the way I interpret that stimulus, is going to dictate whether I take

action or buckle and fold under the pressure. I could engineer this

process in reverse, too. For example, before the first whiff of fear, I

could begin having fear-based thoughts, which would ultimately invoke

a fear response in my body. This could include thoughts like, Ive never

done an event this big. Im not sure I can handle it. This process might

begin with an apprehensive or self-limiting thought that if left

unchecked and allowed to feed into the other stories I tell myself about

why I wont be able to do this, can quickly invoke physiological

responses that I invariably end up labelling, consciously or

subconsciously, as fear.

Although I survived my inner narrative that night when facing the head

asshole, things havent always gone so smoothly. Thereve been more

times than I can count when I was faced with the threat of interpersonal

violence outside nightclubs - when situations had dragged on long

enough for the narrative in my head to grow so powerful, so strong -

that I was mere seconds away from becoming overwhelmed with

intense emotional responses which wouldve rendered me useless. The

phrase a deer in headlights comes to mind here. You can become so

worked up by the story in your head that you can literally freeze, leaving

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yourself completely unable to respond. To some academic types, this

may seem like an oversimplification of the process, but its been my


Heres a question Im often asked in martial arts circles: What about

when you go from zero (no thoughts of danger or physiological

preparedness for danger) to responding when someone randomly

attacks you? Is that a fear response? I typically reply that I love those

situations simply because you have to respond without thinking. You

have to rely on your training, and thinking cant get you into trouble.

But to be serious for a moment, I dont see that reaction as a fear

response per se but rather a survival response. The physiological

changes that happen during or before a fight are simply the bodys way

of preparing to perform and, ultimately, to survive. These precede any

label, such as fear, anxiety, etc. Those labels are words we use in order

to make sense of our feelings and even justify them. As I said before,

we could just as easily interpret them as excitement. Why do people

who bungee jump think its fun? They come out of that experience

feeling amped. But just before they jumped, any one of their internal

stirrings - in a different situation, under a different narrative - could be

interpreted as intense fear and prevent them from acting.

Looking at things from this perspective has helped me to better

understand the difference between fear and survival. Survival-based

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responses are essential as they keep you alive and safe, but fear is only

fear because you created a story, a narrative around an experience that

you then label as fear. This is why fears are often said to be totally

irrational. To the thinking mind, however, giving strength to a story is

rational. The question, therefore, is: what can you do about it?

Now, I dont know about you, but Ive never had much luck with telling

myself not to be afraid. So often, you wind up with two conflicting

stories. One story tells you its rational that youre afraid of the situation

youre faced with, and another one tells you that youre being silly. So,

which one is it?

The best solution Ive found is not to argue with either story. Neither of

them is true anyway, in most cases. They are only interpretations being

sown in the mind that seem to be the right justifications in the moment.

If every fear story were accurate, you wouldnt be able to achieve

anything. Every day, people are faced with real fearful events but

manage to push through and succeed nonetheless. The question is:


Most people just find a way to get through it. They develop a strategy,

mostly subconsciously. Most people cant even tell you how they do it.

But, what if they could? And what if you could recreate the same

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strategy? How would you turn something as debilitating as fear into

action, or rather a more agile force that can work in your favor?

Step 1: The notion so often thrown around is that you can learn to

control your fear. Im here to tell you: that is utter bullshit. There, I said

it. Nothing irritates me more than when I see self-defense instructors

and self-help gurus peddling that nonsense. All it ends up doing is

making you feel like a loser when you cant control the fear. The fact is,

you will never be able to control your fear or any emotion, for that

matter. You cant control fear anymore than you can control what life

throws at you. In case you hadnt already noticed, life is impermanent

and imperfect. Nothing remains the same. Nothing ever goes exactly to

plan. Control is an illusion often conjured up in a misguided attempt to

avoid the fact that you cannot control anything.

For many people, the illusion of control feels much safer than accepting

the fact that they don't have any. But thats not their fault. No one is

ever taught what to do with emotions that become unhelpful. I want

you to get this into your head now: in its purest form, there is no such

thing as an unhelpful emotion. All emotions are inherently good. This is

often dependent on context, of course. If you were walking in the

woods, turned the corner only to find a grizzly bear staring you down,

and you felt no fear, you might think it would be a good idea to go up

and pet the bear. And we all know how that story would end.

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After two decades of intense martial arts practice and over 20,000

hours of sparring with people from all over the world - including world

champions, people who went on to compete in the UFC, and special

forces military operators - I can tell you with full confidence that just

because youre thinking or feeling a certain way, it doesnt mean you

cant get in the ring, do your best, and kick ass. Without exception, the

only time thoughts and feelings have caused me problems is when I

either tried to control my fear, anger, anxiety, etc., or I allowed my inner

narrative about what I was feeling to get the best of me.

Step 2: The physiological changes that happen in your body, which you

then define or recognise as fear, are going to happen with or without

your consent. Said another way, if we go back to my grizzly bear

example in which you turned a corner in the woods and ran into one,

tell me you're not going to instantly shit yourself. And now try to tell me

that somehow magically youre going to control that fear. Probably not,


If you cant control your fear, or any other emotion (anger, anxiety, etc.)

for that matter, what can you do about it? I hinted at the answer in Step


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What you can do is acknowledge your capacity to manage your inner

state. By definition, managing is very different than controlling. When

you manage your inner state, you recognize that it exists but then

change your relationship with what is holding you back in a way that still

allows you to achieve success. When you attempt to control something,

you try to exert power to influence or direct either your behavior or the

course of events. For example, trying to influence your behavior by

telling yourself not to be afraid doesnt help. In actual fact - and I know

this from first hand experience sparring against some of the toughest

men on the planet - the more you tell yourself not to be afraid, the

more worked up you get, and the more you second guess yourself.

As such, your first goal is to change your relationship with the emotions

that are holding you back. You must develop a subtle awareness of

what it actually feels like to be hooked by strong emotions. This starts

by learning how to notice feelings when they first arise. Returning to my

earlier example, when Im coaching around the world, and I feel the

butterflies in my stomach and the dryness in mouth, I recognize these

signals as the typical precipitants of a strong emotion, like anxiety or

fear. Noticing these feelings early on allows me to catch them more

quickly, before they consume me. With enough practice, you can feel

what will become fear before you even label it as such. The label is the

hook. Its our story, the narrative we use to describe and justify why

were feeling a certain way.

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Step 3: Step 3 is the crux of this practice. Once youre able to

recognize the beginnings of a strong emotion, youll learn to interrupt

the momentum of these feelings by slowing down your own reactions

to them. In other words, youll teach yourself to interrupt the cycle of

stimulus and response. Between the stimulus (i.e., the event that

triggers the feelings) and your response (i.e., the story or narrative you

use to make sense of the feelings) is a gap. Admittedly, its a really small

gap, but once you learn to manage it, your way of dealing with

unhelpful emotional states will shift. Put another way, your story will

stop running you.

Step 4: This step is all about what you do during the gap between

stimulus and response. Allow me to give you an example. Imagine this

scenario: I wake up in the morning in my hotel room. Today is the big

day. In 2 hours, Ill be in front of dozens of people who Ive never met

before, and Ill be sparring with all of them. Picture it: dozens of people,

all with amazing fight games, trying to punch me in the face. Now

imagine repeating that experience dozens of times throughout the year.

From the moment I begin to think about the upcoming event, even as

my eyes open, my physiology begins to change. But I immediately

recognize that the onset of these feelings is actually my entire

embodied self preparing to perform. Instead of creating a narrative

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around those feelings - like telling myself, Im afraid because, Im

anxious because, or Im tense because, - and then finding myself

neck deep in internal dialogue about either trying to change the story

or justify it, I simply label what Im feeling. Ah, tension or Ah, anxiety.

Nothing more, nothing less. With practice, Im simply being mindful

about the inner stirrings in my mind and body. Im also slowing down

my reactions to whats happening.

Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present

moment and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience from

moment to moment. When youre mindful, youre able to enter into the

places that you fear because you do so fully and non-judgmentally

embracing the unfolding of experience from moment to moment. More

importantly, youre no longer run by your emotions. Dont get me

wrong: all the inner feelings you usually recognize as fear or anxiety are

still there. The difference is that youre not having an inner dialogue

about them. You drop the story, the hook.

Being mindful enables you to be more present, focused, and astute,

aware of the experience unfolding in front of you. This means your

responses will be precise and not clouded by emotions which are

almost always attached to unhelpful thoughts.

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Outside the night club, when I threw that guy out, and he came back at

me with a right hook, I simply reacted from my fight training. In that

moment - and not even realizing it at the time - my thinking mind was

switched off. I didnt have time to overthink the feelings I was having.

The right hook coming my way simply didnt give me the opportunity

to. There was no gap. This is what I meant earlier when I said that the

head asshole did me a favor. If we had pushed and shoved each other

around for a while, as often happens scuffles, I may have begun to

interpret my thoughts and feelings as apprehension and fear and I

might have attached some sort of self-limiting thoughts to it.

I want to make this abundantly clear: its not whats happening outside

of ourselves thats the problem. Its not even whats happening inside

thats the problem. The problem lies in the ways in which we interpret

what happens to us, inside and out. Im not saying you shouldnt

acknowledge how you feel. I can label my feelings as fear, but as long

as thats where it begins and ends, I give no further power to my

feelings - especially not the kind of unhelpful power that attaches a

story or narrative to them - which has the potential to cause you to quit

or freeze.

Ive used this approach successfully in thousands of sparring matches

with some of the worlds toughest opponents. Ive also used it

successfully in business as an entrepreneur. Ive even used it

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successfully when asked to speak publicly, my least favorite thing in the

whole world. Im not trying to blow my own horn by telling you this. Im

telling you this because if I, the kid who grew up in total fear, the kid

who lived with uncontrollable anxiety, can do it, I know you can do it,

too. I know that you have greatness in you. I know that you want to

achieve success in your life. I know that this thing called fear is likely

holding you back. Im here to tell you that fear is only as powerful as the

story you weave around and through it. Short circuit that story, go out

and do what youve always wanted to do, and Im telling you, you will

be so surprised. Youll realize that just because youre thinking or

feeling a certain way, those thoughts and feelings dont define your

results. The only things that can define that or stop you from reaching

your personal success are the self-limiting stories you hold on to.

Theyre only stories, fragments of history enmeshed together to make

you believe theyre real. Me punching you in the face is real. The story

you choose to tell yourself about it is exactly that, whatever story you

decide to tell yourself.

Now, get out there and just fucking do it! Implement this four step plan.

Success is yours for the taking.

Just Fucking Do It Anyway Cycle of Success

Something happens.
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Feelings/Sensations/Thoughts arise.
An emotional response begins.
You recognize it and label it, Ah, fear.
You dont do anything more with the label.
You stay with how youre thinking and feeling, without judgement
(i.e., no story).

You embrace the fullness of how you feel, dont run from it, and just
fucking do what you were about to do anyway.

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Intentional Success
Q: Hey, Rodney, what do I need to do to have an awesome boxing

game like you?

A. Simply dedicate yourself to the craft for four hours a day for the

next 10 years, and you will!

People usually get quite quiet after this or more often than not, its

common to have a barrage of excuses come flying at me.

Heres the thing, do you want to be successful?

The truth: success doesnt happen by accident. You must become

intentional about creating the right behaviors to ensure that it happens.

Intention means taking action. Yet as obvious as this sounds, this is the

biggest stumbling block for most people: taking action.

Just the other day, I downloaded a free ebook about achieving success

in the inner game. The whole book was filled with affirmations. Really?!

Give me a break. How is memorizing a bunch of fake it til you make it

affirmations going to help you succeed? It wont, for two reasons. One:

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youre likely lying to yourself anyway. If you dont have the right skills,

knowledge, motivation, etc. - or you arent doing anything to get them

- lying to yourself wont magically create them either. Secondly, these

kinds of so-called success affirmations lack action. Repeating positive

mantras to yourself wont make you get your ass up off the couch and

make shit happen.

You want to make stuff happen? Want to achieve your goals and live

your dreams? Then start by setting an intention every single morning

when you wake up. An intention isn't an affirmation; its a plan. As I

always tell my students, Luck is for people who dont have a plan.

When I started boxing at the age of 16, everyone was far more skilled at

it than I was. I was training at a boxing gym in the midst of the city, and

everyone there was hungry to succeed as a way to get out of their

impoverished neighborhoods. My coach, Willie Toweel, didnt take

kindly to slackers either, so I knew right away that in order to not only

survive the training but also the sparring matches in the ring, I had to

develop a plan to improve.

I didnt leave my success to chance. I got to the gym earlier than

anyone else and when I didnt have to be at school, I was the last one

to leave. To be truthful, I often skipped school just to stay at the gym. I

broke the game down as best as I could and kept a journal, writing

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down not only what I learned but what I needed to work on. I then set

an intention to develop specific parts of my game each and every single

day, no exceptions. This plan meant catching the first bus to town at

5:30 AM. It meant arriving late to school every day (when I actually

went) to face the wrath of the principal. But excelling at boxing and

martial arts was what I wanted more than air itself.

When you want to achieve success in a specific area of your life, it can

be overwhelming. What you see as the pinnacle of success can seem so

far away. Youre left asking yourself, How am I ever going to get there?

That kind of thinking can make you believe that the endeavor is simply

impossible. As badly as you want to achieve your goal, it seems

completely unattainable. What I learned about setting intentions for

boxing is this: although you have an end goal in sight, you want to

focus your attention on the process. The destination is important as it

keeps you focused on the end result (See vision board in Chapter 4),

but the journey is far more important.

As simple as this may sound, what allowed me to succeed was focusing

on the journey, the process. I knew that I had zero talent for the boxing

game. Hey, I was the kid who was never chosen for a sports team in

school. I had two left feet. I also knew that as insurmountable as it

seemed to become good at boxing, I was able to break the process

down as best I could and start with the things easiest to succeed in.

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This is the secret to succeeding at anything at life. Decide what you

want most, be completely pragmatic about it, and break it down - as

best as you can - into steps that lead up to the end goal. The first steps

you create shouldn't focus on the things you know you can do.

Following this strategy in my boxing training, I knew that I could start

with the jab and cross, move to my footwork next, then learn to

defensively block punches thrown at me, and focus on evading punches

later on. I didnt begin by targeting my evasiveness on day one. Why?

Because thats a skill that can only be developed once you know how to

move, aret afraid to hit back, and have the confidence to deal with

oncoming strikes.

Most people fall short of success because they want to start either

where success happens or one step away from where success is certain

(See the problem with perfection in Chapter 4). That would be like me

going into a boxing gym at age 16, something I had never done before

in my life, turning to the coach, and saying, Whos the champion here?

Put me in the ring with him. What do you think wouldve happened? I

probably wouldve gotten seriously hurt, beat up, quit that very day,

and abandoned my dream of mastering the sweet science of boxing.

The opposite is also true. Unlike those of us who jump in the deep end

too quickly, too many people wait for perfection. They spend so much

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time trying to make everything perfect before they launch into the

unknown that they never achieve anything because they never actually

go out and try to. This is why Im a huge proponent of deciding on a

goal, breaking it down into logical steps, and starting with things you

know you can achieve. And yes, it will take work, but focus on getting

those steps down and then move on to the next step. This is nothing

like waiting for perfection before you make a move. It is setting an

intention each and every day, an action plan, to work on things you

know you can achieve, and then as soon as you feel yourself getting it

(even if its not 100% perfect yet), you move to the next step. When you

add up all those small steps, before you know it, youve achieved your


Most importantly, setting an intention requires accountability. When I

set an intention for the following day and decide to focus on specific

first moves or steps to reach my goal, I complete them the following

day - no excuses. I achieve my goals, whether it takes me 30 minutes or

3 hours. This is the kind of tenacity that success requires. Crucially,

though, as I said before, your steps must focus on the areas in which

you can achieve success. You begin each successive step with the

confidence of knowing that you completed and achieved all the steps

that came before. Each progressive step should address what you

consider to be harder, further up the ladder, closer to your goal, kind of

steps. This wont make achieving your goals any less challenging, but

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because youve set the intention with a step-by-step manageable game

plan from the onset, you WILL be able to reach them.

So, what you waiting for? Pull out a piece of paper, write down your end

goal, and begin reverse engineering the process. If you dont know

what that would look like, ask someone or, better yet, ask a bunch of

people whove already achieved the goal youre striving for. What steps

did they take, from the easiest, most attainable ones to the most

complex. Then, set an intention each and every day to work though that

list, starting at the bottom and progressively moving up, week by week,

until (before you even realize it) youve arrived at your goal. Once

youve achieved it, choose your next goal and repeat the process.

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Get Your Voodoo On: Ritualize!

Im all about rituals. I simply dont think it is possible to be successful at

anything, particularly martial arts, without them. In the old days, I used

to go into the gym, throw on my boxing gloves, climb into the ring, and

spar. On some days, I would have good performances and, on other

days, not so good. What often confused me was the fact that these

good and bad performances were against the same opponents. Now,

unless my opponent miraculously improved his boxing game overnight,

something else had to be going on.

Aside from my inner story throwing me off (as discussed in Chapter 1) or

trying a technique that was way out of my depth (as discussed in

Chapter 2), it was clear that my performance was directly linked to how

focused my mind was on that particular day. I quickly realized that it was

simply not possible to transition from my day outside the gym to

immediately becoming hyper focused and jumping into an incredibly

stressful experience like someone throwing punches at your face or

trying to choke you out.

Our minds are naturally unfocused. I bet right now, as youre reading

this, youre thinking about other things, too. These days, most of us

cant stay focused on one thing long enough to see it through. Like

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right now, I bet the TV is on in the background, or youre checking your

phone. The fact that our attention and focus are all over the place

makes it even more difficult to achieve success. Every single high-

achieving, highly successful person, no matter whether in the ring or in

a corporate career, will tell you that success requires laser-like focus.

In the previous chapter, I advised setting an intention for each day.

Thats all well and good, but when you wake up, the kids are screaming,

the phone is ringing off the hook, and your wife is moaning at you for

not cutting the lawn. Well, before you know it, your attention is

elsewhere, and you can quickly forget all about the intentions you set

for the day. Having a ritual, then, is a shortcut to ensuring that you stay

on track and feel focused, inspired, and energized so that you can

achieve your intention.

A ritual is something you create thats intentional. Its what you do,

without question, each time you know you have to perform. In terms of

intention-setting, performance is in the action steps. Any time you take

action, youre performing, whether for yourself or others, and it takes a

decisive mindset to achieve. Once I learned that just showing up at the

gym and throwing on my gloves to spar was a bad idea, I began to

create a pre-sparring ritual. On my way to the gym, I would listen to a

specific music playlist that I created and only ever listened to before

sparring. My choice of music was focused on lyrics that amped me up

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and prepared body for action. (Just ask the guys who roll or spar with

me every week, they dread Eminem, but they are even more afraid of


Once I arrived at the gym, I wrapped my hands in the same sequence

every time, starting with the left and then moving on to the right. Even

putting on my gloves became a ritual. First the left, then the right. Next,

my mouthguard went in, followed by a quick warm up and three deep

exhales. And then: boom! I was in the ring, focused and ready to go.

This ritual was so successful, like magic even, that I started creating

rituals for every important thing in my life. I have a ritual before I go on

stage to coach, a ritual before Im interviewed, and the list goes on. You

get the point.

Rituals are like full body, mental and physical, inner warm-ups for the

fight ahead. Just like you would never exercise or spar without warming

up your body, you should never go into a performance, like speaking to

people who matter, a business meeting, a presentation etc, without

doing some inner warm-ups. Rituals get your head in the game. They

focus your mind on whats about to happen. Much like a pre-workout

warm-up for your body, rituals ensure that you dont injure your mind.

The fact that most peoples minds are all over the place all the time

means that its really hard for them to just switch on and become

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focused. We all know that we do our best work and achieve the most

gains when were focused. But because its so tough to lock into focus,

entering into something you know is important without an inner warm

up can be disastrous. If you typically second guess yourself in the

situation youre about to face, or your thinking mind usually goes crazy

with past or future thoughts, expect things to be even worse if you

dont set your mind for success before you start. This is why a ritual is so

essential. Its about setting your mind for success before youre called

upon to perform.

I know from my own experience that if I set an intention or intentions for

the following day and then pop out of bed in the morning, trying to

make them all happen right way, things often dont turn out well. But if I

start my day with a success ritual, a ritual I crafted to help me focus for

the day on achieving and doing my best, then accomplishing the

intentions Ive set for myself becomes far more manageable.

Sometimes, when my day isn't going well, I take 5 minutes out to do

what I call a reset ritual. Yup, I have one of those too.

I learned the value of a reset ritual from my sparring experiences. If you

know anything about boxing or mixed martial arts, or if youve ever had

to spar a few rounds, you know there are breaks between the rounds.

And those one minute breaks can feel like a lifetime. Its not uncommon

for a person to overthink what just happened during the previous

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round. As they begin to think about what happened, they may get

down on themselves and frustrated with their performance. Not only

does this take their focus away from the present moment (See Chapter

1), it also ensures that they will go into the next round thinking about all

the wrong stuff and likely second guess themselves. I cant tell you how

many times this has happened to me, so I decided to do something

about it. I created a reset ritual, or between round routine, that allowed

me to let go of everything that happened during the previous round,

enabling me to become centred and stay present while avoiding

steering into thoughts of what might happen in the next round. Its like

having voodoo magic over your opponent. Harnessing this approach

can completely derail your opponent. Perhaps he performed really well

in the first round and thinks youll likely come into the second round

feeling slightly defeated, only to find that youre not. You are there,

baby, and 100% ready to go. Boooooooom!

This approach can be applied throughout your life, not just in the

boxing ring. Lets say youre in a tough meeting, things didnt go so

well, and theres a break before you have to go back in. Instead of

stuffing yourself with pastries or horrible cheap coffee, find a quiet

place and walk yourself through your reset ritual. When you have to

give your next presentation, don't go in cold. Make sure you do your

pre-presentation ritual. Your ritual can include whatever you like, as long


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Its positive.
Its designed specifically to get you feeling pumped for the
experience youre about to have.

It's novel. Dont be boring. Create an experience that will tell your
whole being that its time to kick ass. Rituals can include music,

clothing, food, videos, etc. Feel free to combine them however you


Its used only for that specific experience youre preparing for. Dont
use the same ritual for every important event. Doing this trivializes

the ritual and dilutes its impact.

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Live For The Booooooom!

The boom of life is explosive. Its unpredictable, and it can change at a

moments notice. This is exactly why you need to get clear on what you

REALLY want and NEED in your life. What will it look like when youre

successful, when youve finally arrived? Don't just say it, see it.

I have a vision board in my office. That board features everything I want

to achieve: the next house I want to live in; the off-the-grid, self-

sufficient farm I dream of owning; and the next audience of

entrepreneurs I strive to reach. Seeing that vision board every morning

as I walk into my office keeps me motivated. When I tie my vision into

feeling the fear and doing it anyway (See Chapter 1), knowing that my

intentions for the day will bring me one more step closer to that vision

(See Chapter 2), and ensuring that I energize my body and mind to take

on the day by completing my rituals (See Chapter 3), I know deep in my

heart that success is achievable.

That said, much of what Ive learned about success is an attitude. My

favorite saying in the whole world is:

I live for the boooooooom!

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The boooooooom means so many things to me. I get a charge from

the excitement of working on my aspirations. I love the challenge,

especially when I achieve something everyone told me would be

impossible, like those miserable teachers who told me I would never

amount to anything. Im completing my PhD, so take that.

Living for the Booooooooom also means having grit, especially when

things get tough and dont go your way. (Welcome to life.) Its about

holding yourself accountable for your own actions, even when making

an excuse and blaming others is far easier. As a martial artist and coach,

I know that I cant ask someone to do something unless I'm prepared to

do it myself. When I tell my students whats required physically,

mentally, and emotionally to spar a tough opponent who has the

potential to kick their ass, I know from firsthand experience, because

Ive fought some of the toughest people on the planet.

There were tons of times when I was afraid, tons of times when I

believed I couldn't take on a particular opponent. But I did. What stood

out to me most was that I was never actually afraid of getting hurt, the

one thing I shouldve been afraid of. In fact, when my students are really

honest with themselves, they realize that theyre not afraid of being

physically hurt either. That's not what makes them afraid of sparring an


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Our fears are almost always created psychologically and are often

completely irrational: the fear of looking bad in front of others, of

messing up and looking like a failure, of saying were going to achieve

something and then not doing it. Thats why its easier to create an

excuse - blaming others, circumstances, lack of resources, or lack of

know-how - than to say, I failed myself.

You can make as many as you like, but no amount of excuses ever

helped anyone overcome obstacles or achieve personal success. So, as

basic as it sounds, you can either make excuses and live a life of

mediocrity or accept life as imperfect and go for what you want.

Fearlessness is an attitude. It doesnt suggest that fear doest exist but

rather accepts fear as always there, like it or not. So, you can either

move toward what you want or allow fear to hold you back.

The heart of living the booooooom lies in recognizing that imperfection

is just what is needed to achieve success. You need the contrast. As

Thomas Carlyle noted, Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait

till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis,

advancing nowhere. In other words, if you want to wait until everything

is perfect before you move toward what you want most in your life -

diet, mindset, resources, knowledge - well, get ready, because youe

going to be waiting for a long time. When you finally wake up and

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realize the fatal flaw of this strategy, life will have passed you by and

windows of opportunities closed.

Allow me to let you in on something they never told you in school:

perfection is the enemy of success.

Simply put: If we strive for perfection before committing to action,

were all but guaranteed to never achieve anything worthwhile. Dont

get me wrong: Im not against perfection. Im simply trying to draw

attention to the fact that waiting for the perfect moment or striving for

perfection can keep us stuck where we are: in the mud of life. In other

words, the ideal of perfection should never serve as fodder for inaction

(remember what we said about setting intentions in Chapter 2).

Rather than waiting for perfection, you're much better served to

prepare as best you can - by managing your fears, setting intentions,

and utilizing your rituals - and then begin by taking the first step while

maintaining your awareness of any errors or missteps along the way.

Use your action and interaction with the world around you as a source

of feedback and then course correct as you go. Aim for constant

improvement rather than striving for the impossible ideal of pure


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As both a successful martial artist and entrepreneur, Ive realized that if

you're ever going to reach your goals in the ring, in business, or in life,

you must begin by accepting that peak performancesuccess itselfis

a process steeped in imperfection. Perfection is an illusion. Nothing has

taught me that more powerfully than my career as a martial artist for

over two decades. In martial arts training, for example, we try to get as

close to perfection as possible, but in actual application - when faced

with a real, uncooperative, resisting opponent - we seek only a

satisfactory approximation of the perfect ideal. In other words, while

perfection is something to strive for, it will never be achieved, at least

not in the way we imagine. And when things dont turn out like we

imagined, we return to the same old excuses. Like it or not, we simply

dont have that degree of control over anything in our lives.

My personal journey to embracing the mess (i.e., imperfection) began

when I read this quote by philosopher Alan Watts: To Taoism, that

which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for

without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao [the

way]. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely

perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such

concepts exist.

I cant tell you how long it took me to fully grasp this. Im not even sure

I like the uneasy truth of it. But, anyone whos practiced martial arts and

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whos sparred with great skill knows that however successful you might

be in training, all of your training can quickly fall by the wayside the

moment you face a real opponent. In a real fight, with all of its

unpredictability and chaos, often the best laid plans of fighters instantly

evaporate. Sounds a lot like business and life, too, eh?

Knowing this, what can we do about it?

Rather than try to overcome imperfection, one should learn to embrace

it, to see its beauty. The Japanese have a wonderful term for this:

wabi-sabi, an ability to perceive beauty in imperfection. The character

Katsumoto in the The Last Samurai captures this understanding. Early in

the movie he says, The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could

spend your life looking for one." But toward the end of the movie, as

he gazes upon thousands of cherry blossoms, and with his dying breath,

he says, Perfect . . . they are all . . . perfect. He has come to

understand that perfection is an illusion and that there is great beauty

and possibility in imperfection.

In life, we are constantly pushed to achieve perfection. Mistakes are

often ridiculed, or worse, punished. Everyone who has suffered through

Western schooling will recognize this intense and relentless focus on

getting things just right and avoiding the scourge of mistakes. As

author and motivational consultant, Marcus Buckingham, notes, when a

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child comes home with a report card, parents typically focus more on

the Ds or Fs than on the Bs or As. As a child, youre sent for extra

lessons in the subjects youre struggling with. Instead of taking this

approach, Buckingham advises that parents focus on their childs

strengths: You grow the most in the area where you already show

some natural advantage, some natural area of talent or strength or

passion. That's where you start. And the research agrees. According to

a survey of more than two million people, Gallup researchers

discovered that while weakness-fixing can prevent failure, its strength-

building that actually leads to success in the short- and long-term.

The paradox, however, is that in order to find those strengths, you have

to be willing and allowed to make mistakes, to embrace imperfection.

Through this experience, you can discover what youre really good at.

So, while we strive for perfection in the future, we embrace

imperfection in the present, using it as building blocks for growth and

development. Research confirms, again and again, that superstars - in

any field - did not start out with overwhelming talent. Sure, they might

have started with a slight edge, but the real difference in the long run is

that they simply worked much, much harder than the rest of us. They

embraced their imperfection as well as their slight edge and built on

that. To be sure, this principle of building on imperfection applies to all

areas of our lives, including our hobbies and professions.

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At its heart, wabi-sabi implies not only that perfection is an illusion but

that trying to be perfect actually leads to stagnation, as Alan Watts

noted. While we may not live in a perfect world, we do live in a world

filled with possibilities. But moving from possibilities to real

accomplishments requires action, not action tomorrow when you think

everything will be perfect but rather action right now, when you know

everything isnt perfect. As bestselling author and personal

development trainer, Marie Forleo, noted, so many budding

entrepreneurs fail because they never get started. They are constantly

waiting for things to be perfect. As I mentioned earlier, perfection is the

enemy of action.

First as a martial artist and later as an entrepreneur, I learned the hard

way that I will never be 100% ready for anything. This is true for all of

us, including you. You have to take some risk, launch yourself into

action, and then figure out the rest as you go along. Marc Ecko,

American fashion designer, entrepreneur, and artist, in a video interview

with Chase Jarvis, said much the same thing when he talked about

taking action, telling his team that all they need to do is just get in

the vicinity . . . like 70 percent, and then, because I know I am smart

enough, or we are self-aware enough, that we will make up that delta

between the 70 and the 100 percent.

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I realize how scary this can be for many people. But its not their fault.

Theyve been conditioned to believe that everything has to be just

right before they can move to the next level. This belief is often

created by schooling and reinforced by parenting. As adults, we belong

to a society designed to ensure continued conformity. Every single

piece of advertising and marketing repeatedly tells us that imperfection

is bad and that perfection is not only possible but easily achievable.

Just think of the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines. We

all know that no one really looks so perfect in real life. Marketing is

designed to make us feel inadequate in terms of our own identities and


Krishnamurti, a spiritual teacher, observed: One is never afraid of the

unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end. And so they

search for more knowledge and hold onto what they already know' in

the vain hope of finding answers, even when the answers' are no

longer applicable to their current situation. It reminds me of the famous

quote attributed to Einstein, something to the effect of insanity is

doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different


Ironically, the true application of knowledge, whether in the ring, in

business, or in life, requires translating, or transforming, knowledge

from the thinking mind into embodied action. And heres the clincher: in

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order to translate knowledge into action, we have to move into the

unknown. In other words, theres really no way to hold onto tangible

knowledge once you decide to express it through the body in action.

As the late Richard Feynman, a world-renowned physicist, so eloquently

put it: I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it

is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that

might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain

unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become

enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day,

but remain always uncertain. . . . In order to make progress, one must

leave the door to the unknown ajar.

A good starting point is to accept the fact that just because something

might seem imperfect doesnt mean it's unworkable. Applying

knowledge, therefore, requires action. And action, by its very nature,

always takes place in the present moment, where neither answers (past)

nor questions (future) exist. The present moment is also precisely where

wabi-sabi resides. The beauty of imperfection, then, calls on us to fully

embrace the moment. And as anyone who has tried to live in the

moment realizes, it takes a lot of practice. You can increase your

chances of succeeding more in the moment if you follow the 4 ideas

presented in this ebook.

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Learn to manage your fear, not control it.

Set daily intentions.
Build powerful rituals to create success.
See imperfection as an opportunity to excel. Craft a vision board,
too, to keep yourself focused on those goals, especially in times of


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Final Thoughts
The 4 strategies Ive shared with you in this short ebook have helped

me achieve great success, as a modern martial artist, entrepreneur, and

now wannabe author. (Remember, I never finished high school.)

Ive used these 4 strategies to grab life by the balls and win

unconventionally. I say unconventionally because most of whats out

there in in terms of success strategies doesn't work. The strategies I

present in this ebook do, and Im living proof of that.

Of course, these 4 strategies are not the full story. There are many more

principles I share each and every day in my talks and coaching gigs

around the world. You can find out more about them here: or

If you think you wont have the opportunity to train with me, even

virtually, then check out my book, Full Contact Living, where I share

even more strategies to right hook life:

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If youre into martial arts and using your martial arts game to become a

success in life, check out my online 10X Martial Arts Game membership

program here:

Finally, if you have success with anything Ive shared here, please let me

know. I would love to hear from you. Now go out there, right hook life,

and nail it between the legs. I know you can.

To Your Success!

Rodney King

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About Coach Rodney King

Rodney holds a Masters Degree in

Leading Innovation and Change

from York St. John Universitys

School of Business. He is currently a

doctoral student, pursuing his Ph.D.

at the University of Leicesters School

of Management. His research topic

is Embodied Leadership with a

specific focus on mindfulness as

applied to leadership in action.

Rodney is an internationally renowned martial arts and leadership

coach. He has worked with Army Special Forces on developing high-

performance mindsets during intense engagement. He has instructed

law enforcement officers in the United States, Canada, and Germany on

how to protect themselves when all else fails. He has worked closely

with corporate executives, emerging leaders, and CEOs to raise their

Inner Game and gain the winning edge, both mentally and emotionally,

to enhance their careers.

After starting his first company at age 18, Rodney went on to develop

coaching courses for modern martial arts, leadership development, and

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business success tools now taught and utilized in more than 15

countries around the world.

Author, husband, and father of two boys, Rodney is one of the leading

experts in his field, a modern-day warrior who teaches the original

intention of martial arts as a life performance tool.

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