Stand Up for What You Believe In: The Legacy of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali died on Saturday, June 4. He was 74 years old.

He was and still is known as, “the greatest of all time.” He said himself, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

Muhammad Ali at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Collateral' held atI believe his legacy is that he taught multiple generations to stand up for what you believe in … whether that is believing in yourself and your abilities, or whether that is an idea or a value. That is his legacy because he lived it.

He stood up for himself.

He was never humble, always bold. People were in awe of his style, particularly when he was young.

Most of us will never enter the boxing ring like Muhammad Ali, but we can learn from his belief in himself.

  • If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will? Turn off the self-talk in your head that says negative things. You CAN tackle the next meeting, the next big assignment.
  • You can build more skills to move into that stretch role over the next two to three years. Take on more responsibilities to demonstrate to your manager you have the initiative.

He stood up for his values.

In 1964, he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali when he converted his religion to Islam.

In 1967, he refused to be drafted and would not serve during the Vietnam War. He was arrested and it cost him three years of boxing eligibility during the prime of his career.

Most of us will not be asked to go to war or to face arrest in a similar fashion. However, we make choices every day where we determine IF we are going to demonstrate our personal and/or corporate values or not.

  • We can opt to treat individuals with courtesy and respect, even when we disagree with them … even when they have treated us poorly.
  • We can speak up when we see someone being mistreated or breaking the rules … even when it makes us uncomfortable (see something, say something).
  • We can commit to the environment and taking care of our planet … even when it’s inconvenient or a little more expensive (e.g., pick up litter when it’s not yours, put waste in the recycle bin, carpool at every opportunity, use public transportation).
  • We can give back to our local communities. The opportunities for this are endless! It could take the form of helping other people or animals by supporting your favorite charity or faith-based organization.

What will YOUR legacy be?

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.