Don’t Get Punched In The Face — And Other Important Leadership Lessons

Martial Arts Leadership Lessons Michael Veltri..jpg

The UFC is the hottest sport on the planet. The Ultimate Fighting Championship as it is known, brags of having the highest viewership among both male and female millennials. And Gen-Xers, and Gen-Yers, and any other Gen-ers you want to mention. Come on — admit it. You’ve watched it too, haven’t you?

I proudly admit to being a big fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts (MMA) in general. As a matter of fact, I’ve practiced martial arts for over 40-years and spent 10 of those glorious years living and training in Japan learning from the best.

And interestingly enough, it is what I learned from training and teaching the Japanese martial art of Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, that has helped me the most to be successful in the business world. Applying vital martial arts concepts such as balance, awareness, flexibility, control, leverage, discipline, humility, and perseverance has allowed me to grow as a business leader and as a leader at home and within my community. To truly evolve as a servant leader.

So here are three vital leadership lessons I’ve distilled on my path to practicing and applying the martial arts in business and life that you too can easily apply:

Martial Arts Leadership Lessons to Thrive in Business and Life:

1. Don’t get punched in the face! The most vulnerable part of the body is the head. One good punch to the face will knock you out cold. Where is the most vulnerable part of your business? Protect it at all costs.

2. “Tap-out” to grow and evolve. In MMA competition, one fighter wins by applying a submission hold, choke, or joint lock to the other fighter, making them literally tap the mat to show they’ve had enough. This full resistance training shows where your technique is flawed and where it is fantastic. Do you know where your business is flawed and where it is fantastic because you are out there trying your hardest to increase sales, or to attract and retain top talent, or to gain access to an emerging market? You have to lose some to actually win some.

3. There are no shortcuts. The only way to advance in the martial arts is to put in the time. To do the hard work. To be patient and persistent. The same is true in business and life. There are no shortcuts to being a better leader. Put in the time. Get an amazing mentor or executive coach or business Sensei to help you do the hard work. Be patient and persistent with your colleagues at work, your clients, and your family and friends.

So take 90-seconds to reflect on the three martial arts leadership lessons: Where is the most vulnerable part of your business and are you protecting it at all costs? Do you know where your business is flawed (and fantastic) because your executive team is NOT being coddled? And are you putting in the hard, often monotonous, work to evolve your leadership to the next level?

If you have questions, comments, or other innovative ways to to grow as a servant leader leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri. I’d love to hear from you.

From life or death decisions on the battlefield to the boardroom, Michael Veltri draws on his background as a battle-hardened business executive, decorated U.S. Marine veteran, and 10-year resident of Japan to teach business leaders better decision-making skills that deliver stunning results. Michael is also a cancer survivor and Master Instructor in classical Japanese martial arts. His inspiring leadership keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and corporate trainings deliver practical tools that can be used immediately to increase productivity, drive better organizational outcomes, and deliver stunning bottom-line results while creating a culture of servant leadership at every level. Learn more at: