By Meghan McGrath, Marketing and PR Associate

Recently I decided that I wanted to try a new sport, so I signed up for a membership at a local boxing gym. I’ve always admired what incredible shape boxers are in, and I wanted to try something new – get a little adventurous. I knew going into it that boxing would be a physical challenge, but I underestimated what a mentally challenging sport it is.

In my first class—Intro to Boxing—the instructor taught us the six basic punches:

  1.        Left jab
  2.        Right straight
  3.        Left hook
  4.        Right hook
  5.        Left uppercut
  6.        Right uppercut

The numbers are important. The key with each of these punches comes down to three basic things:

  •          Use your legs for power
  •          Keep your chin down and eyes up
  •          Always protect your face with the hand you aren’t punching with

Shortly after we learned these basic principles, the instructor threw us on the heavy bags and started yelling out combinations: “1212! 3456! 121! 3434! 1245!" My mind went into a tizzy. I struggled to keep up with the combinations, pivot my weight, and remember to keep my hand up between punches.boxing

After the class, I decided to talk to the instructor and ask how I could improve my mental speed. What he said was helpful: “You have the advantage of starting from scratch. Take the time to slow down and learn it right. Don’t go for force and power through each punch. That will come with time. If you learn the technique properly, you will have an advantage over most.” He suggested that each time I come into the gym, I warm up by practicing each of my punches in the mirror without a bag. 

The next time I went in to the gym I tried this. While I was anxious to get into the heat of the workout, I was surprised at how valuable this advice was. Taking the time to slow down and learn this new skill properly – instead of rushing to get my workout done – has made a tremendous impact on my progress already. 

As we approach the end of the business year, this lesson about slowing down to speed up seems extremely relevant. Most of us have professional goals for the coming year that we plan to discuss in our reviews. These might include developing new leadership skills, taking on new roles and responsibilities, or stepping up to the plate to accomplish a new initiative. This is the perfect time of year to slow down and really take a look in the mirror. What skills can we fine tune that will help us speed up and get more done in 2015?

If we don’t take the time to get it right, we might lose that advantage of starting from scratch—wasting time in “undoing” things because we’ve let bad habits develop and get stronger.

But if we slow down and become more intentional about our plans for the next year, we’ll be ready to come out swinging when the bell rings for the first quarter of 2015!

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