How your inner-critic makes you a rope-a-dope

Woman looks in mirror

We drink the poison our inner-critic pours for us.

The following anecdote about this boxing match, which I’ve modified for my own purposes,? was from a brilliantly-written and voice-recorded by one of my favourite pod-casters Terry O’Reilly.

A famous boxing match gives us an insight of how our inner-critic can make us fall for what it says to us.

On October 30, 1974 the famous boxing match known as the “Rumble in the Jungle” in what was then Zaire Africa took place. It had been called “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century“. The two fighters were the undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman against challenger Muhammad Ali, a former heavyweight champion. At the time Ali was the long-shot at age 32 against the younger and more muscular 25 year-old Foreman.

In Ali’s dressing room prior to the fight all were unusually quiet. They knew that the punishing force from Foreman’s powerful haymakers could be more than damaging.

They actually feared for Ali’s life.

But as the fight wore on something changed. By the second round Ali had come up with a secret plan for Foreman. He realized early on that he can’t go toe-to-toe with Foreman’s
powerful blows. So he changes his tactics and goes with something that would later be famously known as the “rope-a-dope”.

Staying close to the ropes and protecting himself by blocking Foreman’s punches all Ali had to do was survive long enough to tire Foreman out. He did this round after round
letting Foreman throw punch after punch onto Ali’s body. The tactic worked like magic.

Meanwhile people close to ringside noticed something. Ali was whispering into foreman’s ear. No one knew it until later what he was saying. It turns out that he was taunting Foreman over and over and over by asking him why was he always using his right. And then adding that he must not have much of a left.

After doing this for several rounds the now enraged Foreman finally bit at the challenge and changed hands from his right to his left. This bought Ali some time to get the feeling
back in his left arm as it was numbed-out from Foreman’s powerful right blows. Then, in the 8th round Ali saw a way opening up.

As the exhausted Foreman tried to pin Ali against the ropes Ali came back with a combination that forced Foreman’s head up in position for a right punch to the face.

Foreman stumbled and then fell to the canvas. The referee counted and then stopped the fight as Foreman was rising. But it was done.

Ali had accomplished what almost no one expected to see. He had beaten the fearsome George Foreman in an 8th round knockout. But he did it, not only with his fists, but with a subtle whispered suggestion.

You may not have noticed, but this is the kind of quiet coaxing that something in your head brain ? your inner-critic ? is constantly whispering into your own inner-ear.

You might of heard things like this:

  • “What are you doing? You always keep messing things up.”
  • “You can’t handle this stuff. Who do you think you are?”
  • “You’re not good enough for this. Get outta here!”
  • “Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you? Quit now while you still can.”
  • “You’re way too old (too young) to be any good at this.”

And on and on it goes. It want’s to make us all into rope-a-dopes.

I’ve heard it said that the best way to clear muddy water is to just leave it alone. But where else can you go that’s outside your own head?

Science has the right answer. Sort of.

They tell us that we have, not just one, but a second brain and it’s in our gut. That’s about as far from the noisy head as it gets without actually leaving the body.

I love science but so far no scientist I’m aware of has stated this yet I’ve been pointing it out for years: the head brain is a thinking brain but the gut brain is a feeling brain. We need both because humans do two basic things all day every day.

We think things and we feel things.

One dedicated brain for each of these two essential tasks.

It’s fantastically elegant in both design and function. But they must be properly optimized in harmony so we can operate in the world with more happiness and fulfillment and less stress. I mean that, in most cases, a person won’t even know that this extra brain exists so how can you make better use of something that, to you, doesn’t exist?

But that doesn’t belie the fact that we need to fix our noisy head brain if we’re to escape becoming a rope-a-dope to our inner-critic. It can be done by applying the calming power of our second brain to our noisy head.

And it’s quite doable in as little as one day if you have the right tool for the job.

I’ve spent decades building it, testing it, and then understanding what it means for your future.

You can learn more about it here for free.

More power to you.

Mobiusman

How A Tedx Talk Almost Ate Me Alive

David doing his TEDx talkDoing a TEDx talk was one of those extreme experiences for me. I hadn’t talked about my work in public for a good ten years before this.

Preparation, they say, is everything.

I’ve read that those who are selected for a TED talk could be practicing their presentations for up to six months before the big day. For some, that adds up to reciting it as much as four-hundred times!

But I had no such opportunity. It wasn’t till sometime in November that I got my acceptance notification from the event organizers. My stage time was slated for after lunch on Saturday February 27th, 2016. That’s less than four months, which wouldn’t have been that bad, except that I had volunteered my time to build out and maintain the TEDxChilliwack.com website. Of course, I still had to write my script and prepare the visuals for the slides.

Friday night at 8:30PM, before the big day, I was on my way home from the dress rehearsal. I decided to park under a street light and edit down my script even more than it was. I had to win back as many seconds as I could. It was the third major edit but was still a bit too long for me to remember it all and besides, they allotted me less delivery time on stage than I’d asked for.

Oh oh.

Going overtime is a big nono at a TEDx event.? Of course, with all these changes the flow of how it was supposed to be recited changed. So, tired as I was, I had to try to practice it right there alone in my car under the glare of a street light. I took out my script and began.? It was raining outside. I’m not sure how long i was there but, after a while, I drove home and quickly ate something. Then I went into my home office to practice some more.

There is always a trade off between exhaustion and being able to perform. That last edit raised another level of difficulty in the final presentation itself. On the day of I had hoped to practice backstage until I’d be called up to go out. I didn’t have to speak till 1:30 pm so I had some wriggle room.

So, I sat in a chair and open my script which I had printed out with thumbnails of all the slides that went with it. Then suddenly and wit a degree of panic one of the organizers came and got me.

“We need you NOW!” he said. There was a problem and they needed access to the website’s back office. As the volunteer webmaster for TEDxChilliwack.com I should have had that info but this day was important to me as far as my presentation was concerned and all else was put aside.

The plan of the tech team was to live-stream the event on YouTube. It went quite well for a time and then… it didn’t! YouTube shut us down because, between each group of 4 speakers, they planned to play a pre-recorded TED talk taken from the main TED Talk channel. Apparently, that’s in stark contrast to the laws of the YouTube algorithms. So, it shut us down for copy-rite infringement. The tech team scrambled to quickly set up another YouTube channel and then, once that was done,? they wanted to switch out the embed code in the live feed page of the TEDxChilliwack.com site. That’s when they came to me to show them how to get into the site.

I tried to assist but my passwords are all kept in a password manager on my PC at my home office. Apparently, none of the organizers had theirs either. Finally Ray, the lead organizer, went home. as it was close by, and did it all from there.? The feed was restored and from then on they turned it off during any of the other recorded TED talks. This prevented the banned notice that had popped up because YouYube had detected a violation of copyright. Everhthing seemed to work well after that.

But I had burned up a my last chance to practice. Not long after I was called up. So, with my script still in hand, the audio guy fitted me with the cordless microphone. At the last second I dropped my script on the table, swallowed hard, and then went out on stage and stood in front of a hundred strangers. I was the only one of all nineteen speakers who’s presentation included both props and slides. My talk was about a mystery brain. A complicated subject no one had ever heard of before. So I wanted to make it as clear and simple as I possibly could. I’m a visual artist so I used lots of? slides with images. Both actual physical models of both head and gut brains as well as images projected on the wall behind me.

But this setup raised the level of difficulty up a few more notches on top of the notches I had already collected. Having never done a complete dry run of my talk made it all the more difficult to manage in front of a live audience. That was probably my biggest shortfall.

In addition to that, I was a bit startled as I began to speak. I had never heard my voice amplified before. The big speakers were right behind me. One on the left and another off to my right.
I was taken aback enough that the very first few words out of my mouth were never a part of my script. I don’t know where they came from but, once they were out, I couldn’t take them back.

Of course, all this was being recorded and then eventually uploaded to the TED Talk YouTube channel for all the world to see.

But no pressure.

In the end I persisted to move a mountain that day… and I didn’t die doing it. When I finished it felt very relieving to say the least. It took me several days to recover from the output of the previous weeks of late nights and very early mornings.

The takeaway I got from all this is: In a live TEDx talk, as in life, you learn that you can’t wait for the storm to pass so you might as well dance in the rain.

More power to you my friend.

Mobiusman