Punch Above Your Weight

Posted September 17, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand
I have a strange confession to make. Sure, I’m a girly girl. I wear makeup daily and love dresses and jewelry. But I also love….boxing! In high school, I loved that my parents had HBO so I could watch Friday Night Fights. I was secretly in love with Oscar de la Hoya and couldn’t get enough of watching fights. A little strange for a small town girl from North Dakota, but I liked it. Over the years, I’ve fallen off of my boxing obsession and never actually got into the ring myself. But I was delighted when a high powered woman just last week used a boxing analogy I understood perfectly and I want to make sure you do, too.

At a recent Step Up Women’s Network event, Jean Pogge, the CEO of the Delta Institute, said this in her advice to women on getting to “the top” of their careers:

Always punch above your weight.”

Now, this isn’t a jab at your waistline or a tongue-in-cheek comment about skinny girls. It’s a boxing analogy that refers to someone being “unfairly matched” and being expected to fight someone who is literally….above their weight. But the translation of this analogy into business — specifically for women — is powerful. Here’s why:

  • You will be underestimated. No matter your field — whether traditionally female or not — you will be underestimated. No matter your education level, your marital status, your parents’ last name, someone, somewhere will underestimate what you can do. Come out swinging. Show them that you aren’t afraid to fight the big dogs and that you’re willing to give it all you’ve got.
  • Get back up. In boxing, when there’s an unfair fight, the easiest way for the larger boxer to defeat the smaller boxer is to knock them down — punch them so hard they fall. Because if you think punching is hard, try doing it with one hand on the ground while you’re attempting to get back up. But that’s a big part of punching above your weight — being able to hold off your adversary long enough to get back up and steady yourself on your feet.
  • Use the strength of your attacker. Sometimes being strong or big also means you’re not as nimble or lean. Use that to your advantage in business. Be the person who is quick to the solution, innovative, and always willing. This might surprise some of your older and more set-in-their-ways colleagues just as a “float like a butterfly” boxer might to his larger opponent.

So get in the ring, Career Girls. And don’t just match yourself with people, companies, or challenges that fit into your “weight class.” Get out there, look up, and throw punches that make you bigger, better, stronger, faster. And you’ll soon see a change in the way you’re perceived.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."