MF 069 : Mike Silver on Taking Risks and Punching Fear in the Face to Become a Champ
Updated: Jun 16
Mike Silver is a boxing historian, commentator (HBO, ESPN, PBS) and author of two books, The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science and his newest book, Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing: A Photographic History. Today, Mike shares what it takes to develop a winner’s mindset, overcome fear, take risks and move forward.
Successes at a glance:
Boxing historian, commentator and author:
Featured on HBO | ESPN | PBS | The History Channel.
Authority on the history of Jewish Boxers.
How Mike gets inspired to conquer the day:
Mike’s office has a huge picture window and he gets his daily inspiration when he opens the blinds and sees the sun rising over the city. Mike is truly present as he sees each day as a gift and reminds us to make the most of it because “you never know what tomorrow will bring.” Mike’s formula for happiness is simple: do something that brings you joy and if you’re in a job that isn’t providing that, make sure you have something else in your life that gives you a sense of purpose. If not a job, then a hobby you’re passionate about such as collecting old movies. As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you have the freedom to do and try many things that will bring you joy.
Setback or failure that led to pivot and shift:
In his late twenties, Mike found himself “floundering” in his career. At the time, Mike was working as a clerk with a large company, while many of his friends were going to graduate school and others were on the entrepreneurial path. However, Mike found that he couldn’t get traction in his own career, despite having a number of talents and skills. As a people person and the son of a very successful salesman, Mike had a feeling he would do well in sales. Mike decided to go to his manager and ask if he could interview for a sales position. In response, Mike’s manager discouraged him from going into sales, touting all of the pressures and demands of the job. As Mike puts it, “he actually talked me out of it!” Deflated, Mike realized that he allowed himself to be talked out of pursuing the sales position because he didn’t believe in himself and lacked the confidence to stand up to an external voice filled with discouraging words. In retrospect, Mike also realizes that he had not yet found his niche and worse, was constantly comparing himself to other people and their successes. This was a turning point for Mike as he needed to take stock in his life and not allow others to dictate or drive his choices. Mike sought therapy and did a lot of work on himself. Six months later, Mike went back to his manager’s office and again asked to apply for the sales job, this time. This time when his manager tried to talk him out of it, Mike pushed his doubts aside and internally told himself “push forward, even if you don’t believe in yourself, say you do!” Mike got his chance and was put into the next sales training class and within one month, became the top sales trainee. To this day, Mike cites this as the first time he ever succeeded at anything and the moment that forever changed his life. Later when Mike wrote his first book, he faced countless rejection from publishers but the lesson from his early days allowed him to keep pushing and moving forward to get that first book out there. Moving Forward listeners, are you facing the roadblocks of external noise? Is a manager or naysayer or even your family and friends, telling you that you can’t do something? Mike shares an important lesson on doing and crushing doubt. Like a good fighter, Mike didn’t deny his fear. Instead, he acknowledged it, accepted the hard work that was ahead of him and most importantly, found the inner confidence to punch fear in the face and move forward. As Mike puts it, “if you have a feeling in your mind, that you want to do something, make the effort. Because even if you fail, it’s a lesson … and you grow from that failure. You have to fail to succeed.” Moving Forward listeners, start failing to succeed so you can find your niche, your passion and your joy.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Mike to move forward:
What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles (Paperback | Kindle): a great take away that Mike shares is writing down what you’re passionate about; “put it down on paper” and follow the exercises to figure out what you do best.
How Mike stays organized and manages his time:
At the end of each day, Mike makes a list of what he has to do tomorrow and prioritizes it. For Mike, there is no “winging it” as the demands on his schedule require planning and organization.
Favorite app / website / resource or productivity hack:
Mike uses the tried and true: pen and paper. He shares an incredible list making hack: write out your to do list items on note cards then organize according to priority.
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Mike’s Advice for you to Move Forward:
Mike’s inspiration comes from other people. His advice is simple and actionable: talk to people who have accomplished what you seek or desire to achieve. As Mike shares, most successful people want to help or are willing to give advice to those who ask for it. Combine this practice with reading inspirational books like What Color is Your Parachute (Paperback | Kindle), which provide exercises that can help you identify and crystalize what you’re passions and talents are. But as Mike notes, the bottom line is you have to do the work to make that change. Moving Forward listeners, if what you’re doing isn’t getting your excited, isn’t your purpose or passion, start putting in the work to move the needle. Talk to those who you aspire to be like, engage in conversations so you can learn. Read the books that can inspire you and use the knowledge bursts that our guests share so you can move forward.