This past weekend many individuals throughout the world watched mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov fight to defend his light weight belt. I understand this sport has some controversy due to its aggressive nature, but many Muslim youth and adults have followed his career for some time and I felt that now that his career has ended, I would take some time to focus on his work ethic and character. There is no doubt that our greatest example is our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) but there are still some individuals that we can look up to as role models for various reasons.If you know me, you know that sports have always been a very integral part of my life. Athletes are often individuals that many people look up to and admire. Sports are not just entertainment, but they can also be analyzed to learn great life lessons. In sports, when you see someone who becomes the best, it is truly inspiring to learn from that person — not only learning from their physical abilities but also learning from the emotional, social and mental abilities.
Here are 6 things I learned from Khabib which we as parents, children, and just human beings in general can all benefit:1. Hard work. One of our former MCCA basketball coaches from our school, Coach Ali, always reminded his students that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. All of us individuals have some talent or skill. But when we don’t maximize it, we can never go from good to great.This is something we need to instill in ourselves and our children: to always give 100% percent and do our best in whatever task or skill we want to achieve. There are many people who make comments like “if I had the natural talent or physical presence of so and so, I would be dominant.” But remember, just having talent or physical abilities is one thing, but hard work is how the good become great.
2. Consistency. What is hard work without consistency? You can’t just work hard for one or two months. The greats have been working since they were young on their skill and duties. For a doctor to be a doctor, you can’t just decide one day and become a doctor in the blink of an eye. That process begins from high school and college. You have to build certain habits to be able to handle the 8 years of the medical grind. Just like in arts and sports, success in academia requires sincere effort for several years for you to become an expert or professional in that field.
3. Patience. When you work hard and consistently, you may expect to have success right away, but life doesn’t work that way. Sometimes when you have natural talent, you may want things to happen immediately, but when you look at Khabib’s life, you can see how he went through a long process of work — from fighting locally to becoming an international superstar. But he didn’t just appear one day and win the championship. Just like Khabib, you have to go through the process of becoming better and better until you become the best.Throughout his life:Khabib competed in over 50 fights to become a professional.He then competed in 20 or so fights to become the champ.He even got the chance to fight for the title twice, but it was canceled both times.He had to wait for a year until he finally got his chance.We need to instill this kind of patience in ourselves and our children to reach greatness in the field of their choosing. There will be up and downs in order to reach greatness and there will also be sacrifice.
4. Loyalty. As Khabib committed himself to hard work, consistency, and patience, it was especially impactful to see his loyalty to his parents. He was in a unique situation where his own father was his coach. As you gain success, you may experience some people who see that you’re winning and come up to you and tell you that:You are better and can get to success faster by losing your integrity and abandoning your loyalty.You can make more money or gain more popularity by compromising your beliefs.You can move on to better things by leaving and forgetting the people who helped you for a supposedly quicker path to fame and “success.”This is why it is great to see that Khabib’s father coached him throughout his life. He could have easily said things like “my dad doesn’t know how business works, he is limited in knowledge” or “when I reach the international level I will move on” or even “thank you dad, but I need another coach.” He could have easily thought “my parents won’t understand and I have to do what is best for me.” Yes, sometimes there might be limitations when working with family, but making sure to take a dive and be respectable in the way we move in this test of life is important. Never forget the people who helped you get where you wanted to reach.
5. Accountability. Sometimes when you make a mistake, it’s hard to accept the mistake or even believe you made a mistake in the first place. Some will think that they are good people with good intentions so there is no need to listen and accept their faults. But the greats own up to the mistakes they’ve made. They learn from their mistakes.Khabib had beat Conor McGregor and afterwards he lost his cool and attacked another fighter in the audience. Khabib’s father was not happy with his behavior and Khabib then informed the public that his father was not happy with him and that he made a mistake. Many people spoke against what he did. He explained why he did it — because someone disrespected his family, but he still accepted that he was wrong. We need to teach ourselves and our kids that we should take accountability for our mistakes and learn from them.
6. Faith. When you become popular and have money and fame, there are many things pulling you from all sides. Many humans fall into the act of selling your personal morals or beliefs for the chance at stardom. As Khabib was winning, he always made it a point to remember to thank God and the people who helped him get there. But he also realized that his behavior and actions will be scrutinized. He made sure to keep God-consciousness in his actions and demeanor. Realizing that his mistakes has an affect on his fans, he made it a point to keep trying to be a better person which can often be a struggle. We can teach ourselves and our children about the struggle to please God through prayers, but living a life with good morals, ethics and behavior is the greatest fight and the highest of all titles that one can earn.Listen to a great discussion on this topic on “TheWalaWay” YouTube channel titled Six Life Lessons from The Career of UFC Fighter Khabib. We talked about how we can excel as students, teachers, kids, adults, and more. Click below to to view. Six Life Lessons from The Career of UFC fighter KhabibMay God protect and allow us to be the best in all that we do.
Sincerely,Mr. Habeeb Quadri