Road to the Pro’s: Helen Harper #5 – Success & Failure

They’ll tell you that success is the only option, and failure is not. But in fact, failure is the option 90% of us take all the time.

Simply put, to fail is to try. If you’ve not failed, you certainly haven’t tried to better yourself.

Besides, how would we learn if we were not to fail?

Some of the greatest successes in the world have been from people who were repeatedly told they would fail.

If you take the time to Google ‘people who became successful in their thirties‘, you will find a long list of very inspiring people, all of whom have made an extremely lucrative life for themselves. But the thing that impressed me most about these people was not their success. Instead, their determination, to me, was far more impressive than any achievement.

While there is definitely something inside all of us that drives and prevents us from accepting failure, we still often ponder on how one can be so determined now, don’t we? It’s actually hard to say. To some, it’s the driving force needed to prove people wrong. On the contrary, to others, there’s just the prospect of an eternal black hole of hopelessness.

My first memory of ‘failure’ came when I was just 13. One of my teachers, who clearly wasn’t my biggest fan, told me I would be doing well for myself if I ended up working at Sainsbury’s. It’s not that I have anything against working in a supermarket. It just wasn’t how I saw my life panning out. From that moment, I vowed to myself that I would prove him wrong.

But how does one become successful? How does one define success?

I don’t own a big house, a smart car, nor do I have my own family or any of the other materialistic objects we view as ‘success’ in this modern age. However, I truly believe that in my life thus far, I have been nothing short of successful. Sure, my definition of success may differ from that of the norm but personally, I could not ask for anything more in life.

The amount of support I have received through donations to my TUF 20 fund, kind messages sent from both my very best friends and people I don’t even know, has been absolutely astounding. On a personal level, this success gives me more joy than any house or car could ever give me.

But, we must not forget that with success, comes a great deal of sacrifice – something that most people are not willing to make.

Currently, living in Phuket and training at one of the best gyms in the world, I see it around me every day. The majority of clients Phuket Top Team has, dream of being a pro MMA fighter. However, they neglect to realise the amount of sacrifice that entails.

The glamorous, exciting life that is believed to be lived by fighters is in fact fairly mundane and distinctly unglamorous. We have a training schedule, which is hard enough to stick to without adding in the effects of weight cutting and tired muscles. We must work not only on maintaining our current skills, but improving and evolving all aspects of our game as well.

Furthermore, we rely heavily on our coaches for encouragement, a point in the right direction and in the heat of a weight cut… mental stability! One of the best coaches I have ever had is my current MMA coach Don Carlo-Clauss, otherwise known as Donny a.k.a. “The Caveman”. Donny manages to do the above seamlessly for multiple fighters without batting an eye lid – that’s impressive.

The hardest part of the fighting life style for me is eating cleanly, having been through years of comfort eating when I was in my teens, where I basically allowed junk food to solve every problem I had. On a day to day basis in Phuket though, it’s easy to eat clean and healthy food, where the amount of gyms dictates the type of food that is served.

But this only becomes a problem when you become tired and worn out from over-training and putting too much strain on your body. This is the time I feel that I ‘need’ chocolate or some other type of disgustingly unhealthy food to ‘make myself feel better’.

In fact, usually the opposite happens, and the immense guilt I feel through eating what ever junk food I can get my hands on is no where near worth the three seconds of enjoyment I got out of eating it. When will I ever learn?

So you see, fighting is harder than one might expect although the positives far outweigh the negatives. But for all the clean eating, early morning runs and aching muscles, there is no better feeling in the world than getting your hand raised.

*Helen Harper is a Mixed Martial Artist from Farnham, England. Her column on Fight Sport Asia, called ‘Road to the Pro’s’, focuses on her life as a fledgling MMA fighter.


Follow Helen on Twitter (@hhhellraiser) and Facebook


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Categories: Featured, Helen Harper, Phuket Top Team, Road to the Pro's



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