Monday night I had the opportunity to train with Mike Brown, the WEC World Champion at 145lbs and a member of The American Top Team out of Florida. In case you are not familiar with the name Mike Brown, started wrestling in high school up in Maine and then continued his wrestling career at Norwich University. He has now been competing in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) for about 10 years now.
In 2008, Mike defeated Urijah Faber who held the WEC World Title for two and a half years and was considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Mike had a convincing victory by winning the match in only 2:23 into in first round. When Mike and Urijah had a rematch this past June, Mike won by a unanimous decision.
After meeting Mike, I really grew a strong appreciation for him not only as a world champion and a great fighter, but as a person. Mike is very down to earth and carries no ego. He is always keeping his eyes and ears open so that he can learn something new from everyone he trains with – even if the lesson is what not to do. Even though he is a diligent student, he is also a patient teacher – always open to answer simple questions from people who are just starting to train. As I trained with Mike and watched him teach or explain a move, even a move that he probably mastered in middle school, he was very calm and excited to share his knowledge.
Mike's teaching approach, awkwardly enough, reminded me of Pikes Place, the famous fish market on the fish pier in Seattle Washington – stay with me…this is going somewhere. Pikes Place is where the employees are famous for the experience that their customers receive while buying their seafood. They are likable, energetic and totally professional. Like the fishmongers of Pikes Place, Mike Brown also has a unique way of interacting with his audience. First he is a very happy-go-lucky guy who chooses his attitude, not the other way around. He makes sure that he has a lot of fun training and teaching. While interacting with people that he had met for the first time he quickly gets them into his mind set by sharing his passion, his fun attitude and, most importantly, his work ethic. I am sure that with his new found fame it may be easy to daydream instead of teaching the right technique and focusing on helping his team. That is not the case with Mike, he is very present while teaching and helping others improve their skills.
As a professional, Mike is the WEC World Champion and he beat one of the sport's best fighters…twice. Although, I will never forget training with Mike, the champion, I will always remember Mike, the human. I will remember his decision to choose his attitude, to work hard, and his commitment to helping his team. I take this experience and I use it every day in my professional life. I choose my attitude every day, not vice-versa. I bring my energy, my passion and my professionalism to everyone I talk to, whether I am speaking to a C-Level Sales Executive or an entry level college grad, the person on the other end of my line will remember me as a professional as well as a human. Is there an experience that you carry with you that pushes you to be a better professional/human?