How Often Do I Flinch?
There’s this place near my house—a boxing gym called Hard Knox. Any day you want, you can go there, sit down, and watch people fight. The sign above the door says “VIP ENTRANCE,” because anyone who enters can be a champion. But to become one, you have to learn how to get hit. In a fight, there is a fundamental difference between boxers and everyone else. The guys who have trained are different. If you hit them, they don’t flinch. It takes practice to get there, but if you want to fight, you have no choice. It’s the only way to win.
– Julien Smith (2011-12-07). The Flinch. AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.
Recently I was told about this book, FLINCH, by Julien Smith. I got it. I read it in about 30 minutes. I sat for another 30 minutes thinking about what I had just read.
Then I went for a walk with my dog.
I got back to my computer and I started practicing to lean into the punch.
All my life I’ve been programmed to avoid the punch. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” became the mantra for the idea of being quick enough to avoid the punch. But after reading FLINCH, I don’t think that’s what Muhammad Ali meant when he said that.
Obviously, as a boxer and in life, you want to avoid the punch. But sometimes, you really need to take the hit. Then get up. Maybe punch back.
That second part is the hardest.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a punch then lay for a minute, check all body parts to make sure things are still functioning, the quick “Post-Punch Assessment” if you will. After concluding your physical make-up is alright, you want to sit up, take a breath; then proceed to wallow for a while. Looking for validation, for something outside yourself to blame. Give yourself time to cry, lie around in your pajamas all weekend, eat too much chocolate cake, watch re-runs of Dr. Phil, maybe some old WWII movies or episode after episode of Storage Wars until you think that you really should go out and find some local auctions to try your hand at.
Ironically, this isn’t what you should really be doing after a punch.
I remember the one (and thankfully) only time I was in a true fist fight. I was in 5th grade and the girl who came at me was a sizeable 7th grader. She was mad. REALLY mad! Like her whole face was red, pursed lips and all. As if in slow-motion Matrix-fashion, I saw that fist coming right for my face.
I dodged the first fist, only to be side-kicked by her swinging leg right in the gut. This spun me around so hard I landed on the trunk of a tree and felt like I broke my collar bone. She had knocked the wind right out of me. I did a “Post-Punch Assessment” in a nano-second, realized my collar bone was NOT broken and stood up as fast as I could. I formed a fist of my own and..well..I’ll end the story there.
The point is that as a kid I realized the need to get up right after a punch and face the fear. What happened as I became an adult? Undoubtedly I found other ways of coping with confrontation, most of them fairly healthy, some not so healthy. But in that coping I also found ways to fully avoid the uncomfortable feelings associated with even the thought of the punch. Enter The Flinch.
I’m now practicing leaning into the punch again. Recognizing The Flinch and realizing that most of the things that cause my Flinch, really are not punches that are going to level me completely. Yeah, they may be uncomfortable, it may not be the most fun I’ve ever had and I probably won’t be celebrating the event. But I won’t be knocked down and out by the misfortunate event. I won’t be laid up in a hospital fighting for my life. I may be uncomfortable, I may have to get super-creative in my new solution, I may have to work a little harder or smarter or both.
I’m also practicing getting up after the punch instead of lying in a puddled mass on the ground with big, sad puppy dog eyes, “WHY ME? WHY ME?” style. Just this past week, I took a good blow. Stood up, smiled, asked a couple pointed questions to the “puncher” and got some good answers. As a bonus I did not count on, I got to see them flinch. The pause, the squinty eye, the look of “How does she know that?” and then more silence from this person was enough for me to see that they are not a boxer either. And immediately, I began sculpting my sales around that flinch – that moment of pause – and what I could provide that would solve their REAL issue. The issue that made their Flinch happen in the first place.
I just signed a contract with them to do business and the relationship has changed for the better, in ways I couldn’t even have imagined.
When and where do you flinch during your day? Is it at work? Is it with your kids? Do you find yourself flinching with your spouse? Do you line up at the tee box and then, OOPS! Pull your elbow in, straighten your leg too much or, in other words, flinch?
I encourage you do to something different and lean into that flinch. Feel it, for real. Recognize it, and get up right away if you indeed get punched. You will be amazed at what happens differently in your life.