Sun Tzu’s military strategy, expressed in The Art of War and Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings, a samurai philosophy have become standard reading at business schools and military academies around the world. Now, the coaching strategies of legendary boxing trainer Cus D’Amato, as described in the book Non-Compromised Pendulum: A book about Cus D’Amato’s style, by Oleg Maltsev and Tom Patti may become the next standard in the pursuit of success in any field.
Ask any great fighter and he will tell you, “I have faced many men in the ring, but my toughest opponent is myself.” This concept is true whether you are a boxer, runner, school teacher, coach, general or CEO. Learning to overcome yourself will lead to success in any field. Further, in achieving your own success you will obtain the experience and knowledge necessary to teach others.
Non-compromised Pendulum: is an important look into the coaching style of Cus D’Amato, a man who produced three boxing world champions – Jose Torres, Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson. With a coach who produces a single champion, one may claim there was luck, but with three champions there is clearly something very special about that coach. Whether we are boxers or managers, we all want to be champions or we will want to train champions. This book serves as a textbook, helping us understand a proven path towards that championship season.
While much has been written about Cus D’Amato’s results and his relationship to his champions, a unique takeaway from this book, one that we could all apply to our own lives is the concept of 2+3=5. This simple equation is a way of expressing that Cus saw himself as a guide, someone who could give suggestions to his students, but it was up to the fighters themselves to apply those suggestions. With Mike Tyson, for example, Cus famously told Mike to watch old videos of certain fighters who Cus thought Mike could learn from. At the end of the day, however, he could not make Mike or anyone else, watch those fight videos. If watched, he also could not make them think about the videos or learn from them. He could only guide them in the right direction, but it was up to the fighter to put forth the effort and invest in his own future success. In his coaching equation, this personal responsibility is the 5.
Discipline and hard work are at the core of any success formula. In Cus D’Amato’s reckoning this hard work, 5, does not just materialize. It is the sum of 2+3.
The 2 is the delicately balanced relationship between the coach and the student. The student, on some level, demands that the coach prove that he can teach. And the coach, on some level, demands that the student prove that he is worthy of being taught. At times, this dynamic puts the coach and the student almost at adversarial ends, very much as an adolescent sometimes rebels against parents, demanding independence. A good coach, like Cus D’Amato, sees this rebellion and says, “OK, prove to me you can do it yourself, and I will step back and let you work.” Only by gradually easing off on the fighter and then reeling him back in can the coach eventually build positive independence in the fighter. Once the fighter develops an internal locus of control, he will have the discipline to drive himself, to work under the coach’s guidance.
Another aspect of the 2 is that there are only two people in the world who should matter to that fighter, and they are himself and his coach. Gym mates, family, friends, fans, and detractors should all be ignored. Only the coach, with his wisdom, and the fighter, with his dedication matter. Boxing is a lonely, individualistic sport, first played out between two, the coach and boxer, and later between the boxer and his opponent. But in a way, the concept of 2, says that even the opponent doesn’t matter. Only the coach and the boxer matter. Everyone else must be tuned out. This too is a universal lesson for success; tune out everything and everyone that does not matter.
The central trick to teaching a violent and undisciplined young man like fourteen-year-old Mike Tyson was that Cus knew he had to break Tyson without crushing him. The blacksmith pounds the steel over and over to make it stronger, but he has to do so in a very scientific fashion or the steel will break. Similarly, Cus had to be careful not to beat the life out of Tyson. At the same time, Cus could not let Tyson beat him. If he did, then Tyson would no longer trust Cus’s teaching. A fighter who wins the battle in the gym will lose the battle in the ring. Therefore, Cus had to win, without losing, and break his student without defeating him.
Once the 2 has been established, then the student is willing to accept the wisdom of the coach. This leads to the final element in success, 3, the actual teachings. It is not enough for the coach to gain the respect of the student. The coach must also have the knowledge to impart.
To have an effective 3, the coach has to have his or her own record of success. In the case of Cus D’Amato, having a record of previous champions would suggest that he had the knowledge to pass on to the next student and the next. Conversely, there are those in this world who can gain the trust of their followers through charisma or popularity and then steer them in the wrong direction because they have no previous record of success upon which to draw. A quick test of a good coach is if he is hated. Cus had many detractors and people who despised him. This tells us that his standing among those who did believe in him was earned, that it came through his achievements, rather than through his pleasant personality. And this is all central to having a solid 3. If you are a student, find a teacher who is loved by some and hated by others, and then analyze his past achievements to see if he has anything worth sharing with you. By the same token, if you wish to be a coach, a leader, a teacher, or CEO, you must first build your own portfolio of success so that you will have solid life lessons to impart to your students.
The 2+3=5 equation for success is simple: Once the coach has the knowledge and experience, and the relationship is built with the student, the rest is merely hard work.
The great Chinese general and military philosopher Sun Tzu wrote his signature treatise, The Art of War, over two thousand years ago, and it is still being applied as a blue print for success in fields as diverse as sports, business, and war. The same can be said about Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings, a book of martial art philosophy which became required reading at business schools and military academies around the world. Now, in the book Non-compromised Pendulum: A book about Cus D’Amato’s style, by Oleg Maltsev and Tom Patti, the philosophy of one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time has been presented in such a way that it could be applied by any person hoping to succeed in any field.