What startups can learn from kickboxing


I’m a bit of a black sheep at Onehub HQ because, while my colleagues enjoy CrossFit, my preferred workout is kickboxing. And while bashing heavy bags is a fun way to exercise, kickboxing has actually taught me some lessons that apply to business and startups of every size.

This isn’t some on-the-nose metaphor about stepping into the ring or getting back up after getting knocked down. It’s about the broader approach to fighting to get the best results:

  1. You can’t hit what you can’t reach. Don’t throw a punch until you put yourself in a position to actually hit your target. Swinging wildly just throws you off-balance and makes you susceptible to a counter-attack.
  2. The lesson: set realistic targets (they can still be hard!) to achieve maximum impact

  3. Real power comes from alignment. Good punches don’t come from the arm, they come from the shoulder. Good kicks don’t come from the legs, but from hips. They key to real strength comes from the body working together.
  4. The lesson: Rather than relying on one or two rock stars, get everyone in your company on-board and moving in the same direction.

  5. Fight your fight, not theirs. Don’t let your opponent dictate your tone. A bigger opponent wants to smother you. A smaller opponent will flit about and sting you. Just because that’s how they want to fight doesn’t mean that’s how you should fight.
  6. The lesson: Don’t let your competition define you. Stay on the course you set.

  7. You can go far focusing on the basics. You don’t have to be great at every combination. Having a solid 1-2 (literally. 1=jab, 2=cross) will always be effective.
  8. The lesson: Perfect your fundamentals. They may not be flashy, but they work.

So in re-reading this piece, these lessons are a little on-the-nose. But let’s not fight about it.