What Millennials Can Learn From Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali = The Greatest

Today the world will bury Muhammad Ali. A man bigger than the world. Ali was The Greatest.

Muhammad Ali

In honor of Muhammad Ali and the humanitarian work he did, I wanted to take a couple minutes to write my thoughts on what Millennials (and anyone really) could learn from The Champ.


I had the privilege of meeting Ali on several occasions over the last decade. Unfortunately, his health was deteriorating and it was sad to watch one of the strong men to walk this earth be restricted the way he was. He still carried a presence with him, something only a few can ever accomplish.

“Braggin’ is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say.” – Ali

Stand Firm

Ali was born in my hometown of Louisville, KY. He grew up in the poor area of west Louisville where many obstacles were present. Remember, this was the 1950s and 60s, pre-Civil Rights movement. This was an era where a man of color was not given much in terms of opportunity. Ali saw a different path.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” – Ali

Ali was known as The Louisville Lip. He ran his mouth in a manner that now is known as trash talking, then, it was a form of unsportsmanlike conduct. Ali saw it as a method of saying what he believed in.

I could write about Muhammad Ali for pages, but this is intended to be useful. Here are some thoughts on how Ali can be an inspiration to Millennials.

  • Believe in yourself first
    Ali once said “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” I don’t mean be arrogant about it, but if you can’t believe in yourself, you can’t win. Plus, no one else will believe in you.
  • Find something to believe in
    Millennials already love the “why” behind everything. Seek the vision and learn what “why” supports that mission.
  • Stand up for what you believe in
    Ali always took a stand when he believed in something. Even though he faced years in prison, lost years of prime fighting, and had a major PR nightmare, Ali stood by his decision to fight the draft during Vietnam.
  • Get back up when you get knocked down
    Ali went quite a long time before being defeated. There comes a point in time where being undefeated actually hampers your growth. I once heard a story where Ali learned to reserve energy as a result of losing a fight. When his opponent was wearing thin, Ali looked and said, is that all you got? Ali turn the energy up and won the fight, thanks to lessons learned by losing.

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” – Ali

  • Love when you can
    Ali was a fighter, in the ring. As he aged and matured, Ali remained a fighter for his life, but it was a fight about people, not against people. Ali touched millions of people around the world. Simply doing something for the benefit of others can make you a giant.

“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” – Ali

  • Add to other people
    Ali was a leader. His goal daily was to add value. When you are nearing death, I think you’ll be looking back to see what you offered the world, and it won’t be a monetary review.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Ali

I challenge you to take a couple minutes and read up on Ali. He did some remarkable things, but the majority were after his days in the ring were over.

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” – Ali


Question: What is something about Ali that you admire? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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