Still a winner despite defeat

THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION: Mayweather (left in photo) exchanging punches with Pacquiao during their bout in Las Vegas on May 2. Although the American won the fight on points, the world cheered for Pacquiao - while both athletes played fair and square, the Filipino gave the fight that he promised.


    Jun 09, 2015

    Still a winner despite defeat

    YES, many of us anticipated and watched the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight last month, dubbed the "fight of the century".

    It probably took us a week or more to accept the fact that our Asian hero was unable to bring home the bacon. Despite his loss, Pacquiao remains the winner in our hearts.

    His failure in that match made us realise how much more we value him for being the ultimate Asian pride.

    The support was not evident just among his countrymen - the rest of the world clearly cheered Pacquiao on as the real winner.

    Here are some life lessons he taught us despite his defeat.


    You may have noticed that while Mayweather is already too expensive to endorse any brand, his boxing shorts carried zero logos compared with Pacquiao's.

    He is the star athlete that sponsors do not want to touch, as CNN quotes. After all, which company likes to be associated with someone who prefers "money" as his nickname?

    His last endorsement deals were in 2009 for a telecommunications and shoe companies, and neither was renewed the year after.

    His records of domestic violence and racist rants online will probably take more than an Olivia Pope to clean his image.

    This is not to say that Pacquiao is a saint (as our Pinoy hero himself has his fair share of personal shortcomings), but he does a better job in maintaining an image that the public aspires to.

    The biggest dilemma everyone faces in life is the choice between "being feared" versus "being liked" to succeed in our goals.

    There is no right or wrong option to this. In South-east Asia, prosperous neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia prove that in the context of pursuing progress amid chaos, an iron hand can be effective - and in the long run, earns the respect of people after good results become visible.

    Research shows that a commanding ruler works best if subordinates accept hierarchy as part of society.

    But nice guys can also finish first as long as they use the right strategies that prevent others from "taking advantage of them", as studies suggest.

    Harvard Business Review cites studies where acts of altruism, something which Pacquiao is known for, can increase someone's status in the group. Leaders who project warmth (and smile like Pacquiao), even before they exhibit competence, are trusted more than others.

    While the numbers clearly show that he lost the fight, you can say that Pacquiao was the real victor in the eyes of the spectators - the battle which we all aspire to in real life.

    The reason is simple: People love him more. He smiles while he is being weighed; he shares his personal life; he introduces us to his mother (and the world was never the same again); he sings whenever there is a microphone.

    Even though he is a sports icon, he still takes the time to show that he is one of us.


    While I am not a big fan of Pacquiao as a politician, you have to give it to the man who decided to get out of the ring to help and inspire people to greatness.

    He generously gives back to the people he associates himself with, and proves that success is best enjoyed when it is shared with others.

    Like Pacquiao, people who sustain their success all realise one thing when they get to the top: They start thinking about others before themselves.

    They reach out to discover their higher purpose. They look for opportunities to develop people because they feel good when they share what they know.

    They take accountability when their people fail to succeed because they own the responsibility of setting them up for success.

    Beyond fame or making more money, they look for opportunities to give back to communities, and they do not need press conferences to shout these deeds.

    It is no wonder that when these people fail, they easily get the support they need to start all over again.

    Like Pacquiao, they still have people's unwavering loyalty, win or lose. Indeed, it is crucial to have people beside you who will lift you up when you get shot down.

    In John Maxwell's Five Stages Of Leadership, he demonstrates that successful people influence best because of what they represent, and because of what they have personally done for others.

    At work, being the fastest worker, the most creative Powerpoint slide maker, or the most strategic planner are well rewarded only if you work alone.

    But these are not enough to succeed if teamwork is at play.

    This is the same reason why I get so frustrated when I see brilliant managers or students who do so well when given a solo task, but fail painfully when they are asked to work with a team.

    They refuse to trust people with work, and they refuse to share what they know because getting ahead in the race is their main priority.

    It matters to show your friends and colleagues that while you have a personal race to win, you also have their back.


    The world voted for Pacquiao because he fought the sport the way we expect it to be fought. After waiting for five years, we were promised a good fight and while it is wrong to say we wanted to see blood, we were disappointed that we did not.

    Credit goes to Mayweather for his technical gracefulness in defending himself in the ring - he avoided many punches and reserved much of his strength until the end.

    He was also a very patient fighter who refused to win by volume of punches, but by the quality of them. He fought smarter, and he deserves the victory for this strategy.

    But this was not the boxing that the people were waiting for. Many fans were expecting a slugfest between the two legendary fighters.

    The world cheered for Pacquiao because, while both athletes played fair and square, Pacquiao gave the fight that he promised. He walked the talk.

    Successful people are those who fulfil their words and hold on to what they commit to the public. They commit to a specific goal, and work hard on it until they finally accomplish it.

    They pick themselves up no matter how many times they fall down.

    Pacquiao chased Mayweather to fight even if all the conditions were stacked against him, because he sincerely wanted to prove himself as the best. He also wanted to prove that he could give both a good show and emerge victorious at the same time.

    And when he lost, he showed his usual sportsmanship by sincerely congratulating his opponent but he was always firm enough to share his side of the story.

    This is why we all love Pacquiao, no matter how many times he will lose his fights. We all like him for what he has done, and what he continues to represent.

    At work or in life, we all wish we can leave a legacy as big as Pacquiao has. Not because we are simply good at what we do, but because the most fulfilling thing to do is to consciously share what we are good at.


    The writer is a faculty partner at Leaderonomics and won The Apprentice Asia. For more reports on the go, check out the "MyPaper" iOS and Android apps.