Oftentimes when you start making positive changes for the better in your life, you’re going to have people, even people really close to you who claim to care about you, intentionally or unintentionally try to discourage you from your path. In those moments, you have to develop the ability to shrug off your critics and not let them drag you back down to their level. My guest today has succeeded in that struggle and shares the lessons he learned in his aptly titled book, Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower. His name is Ed Latimore and besides being a writer, he’s a professional boxer, is about to complete his degree in physics, served in the National Guard, is an AmeriCorps volunteer, and avid chess player.
Today on the show, Ed shares how he wasn’t always this ambitious and how he spent his twenties dorking around. He then shares the moment when he decided to get serious with his life and the steps he took to start college in his late twenties. We then dig into some of the themes in Ed’s book, specifically how to develop discipline even though you’re not motivated, why you have to embrace being mediocre to become great, and the difference between good pain and bad pain.
Ed shares what it’s like to lose a boxing match on national television and the lessons on failure he took from that match. He also shares insights on how to deal with success, specifically how to keep that edge even when things are going well for you.
We end our conversation talking about why not caring about what people think is a superpower and why sometimes the people closest to you don’t want to see you change your life for the better.
This is a great show packed with actionable insights.
- Ed’s background and environment growing up
- His fascinating resume and interests in life
- Why Ed signed up for the military
- Why Ed decided to give up alcohol
- The themes that he’s exploring with his writing
- Why millennials don’t have as much respect in their conversations — online or IRL
- What Ed did to get himself disciplined
- Good pain vs. bad pain
- Why the process is more important (and even enjoyable) than the destination
- What it’s like to lose a contest on national TV, and how Latimore gained some perspective
- The challenges of success, and how to keep your edge
- The difference between self-discipline and self-control
- Where men tend to fail when it comes to self-control
- Why not caring what people think is indeed a superpower
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Podcast with Meg Jay about “the defining decade”
- On Taking a Punch
- You May Be Strong . . . But Are You Tough?
- Boxing for Beginners series
- Podcast with Rory Vaden about self-discipline
- Podcast with Jocko Willink about extreme ownership
- How to Become a Self-Starter
- Eugene Sledge Puts Your First-World Problems in Perspective
- Imposter syndrome
- Man Killers: Sex
- Blow Up Your Relationship With Your Mother
Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower is packed with actionable advice. Ed offers a meditation about a particular facet in life and then gives a concrete action you can take to put that idea into practice. It’s a great example of balancing action and contemplation.
Connect With Ed
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
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Recorded with ClearCast.io.
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Oftentimes, when you start making positive changes for the better in your life, you’re going to have people, even people really close to you who claim to care about you, intentionally or unintentionally, try to discourage you from your path. In those moments, you have to develop the ability to shrug off your critics and not let them drag you back down to their level. My guest today has succeeded in that struggle and shares the lessons he learned in his aptly titled book, Not Caring What Other People Think is a Superpower. His name is Ed Latimore and besides being a writer, he’s a professional boxer. He’s about to complete his degree in physics, served in the National Guard, is an AmeriCorps volunteer, and is an avid chess player.
Today on the show, Ed shares how he wasn’t always this ambitious and how he spent most of his 20s dorking around. He then shares the moment when he decided to get serious with his life and the steps he took to start college in has late 20s. We then dig into some of the themes in Ed’s book, specifically, how to develop discipline, even though you’re not motivated to, why you have to embrace being mediocre to become great, and the difference between good pain and bad pain. Ed then shares what it’s like to lose a boxing match on national television and the lessons he learned on failure from that match. He also shares insights on how to deal with success, specifically, how to keep that edge even when things are going well for you. We then end our conversation talking about why not caring about what people think is a superpower and why sometimes, the people closest to you don’t want to see you change your life for the better. This is a great show packed with actionable insights. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/latimore.
Ed Latimore, welcome to the show.
Ed Latimore: Hey, thanks for having me today.
Brett McKay: All right. You’ve got a really interesting background. We’re going to talk about your book, Not Caring About What People Think About You is a Superpower. Let’s talk about your background because it’s interesting. You’re a professional boxer. You do club chess. You’re competitive at that. Like you say, you’re a competitive person. It’s not competitive competitive, but you do club chess.
Ed Latimore: On the campus team, I’m definitely the strongest player here, or campus club team, because I love studying the game and improving. I don’t really have hobbies because I don’t know how to just … My only hobby is karaoke and even then, when I’m done with this degree, I’m probably going to go and take some singing lessons and get better.
Brett McKay: There you go. Well, so yeah, you’re working on a degree in physics, as well, and then you also find time to serve in the National Guard. Let’s talk about how did you go about developing this resume? These are diametrically opposed interests, chess, boxing, etc. What’s going on there?
Ed Latimore: The main thing right now, my degree, and I just finished up my military service, so I’m no longer obligated to … Well, you’re always obligated in your heart, but in terms of will they send me somewhere, that obligation is completed. How this all came about is I spent a lot of my early 20s really just kind of puttering around and one day, I woke up and I said, “This isn’t going to happen.” I remember exactly when that moment was. I came back from LA, where I had been training as a sponsored amateur, but they cut me when the program moved forward. I needed a job and work and I realized that I hadn’t developed any skills in my early 20s, so I went to work at T-Mobile. I remember at T-Mobile, it was a sales-based commission job, but it really sucked. I was like this will not work and the path I’m going on, it’s not sustainable.
At that moment, I went and I was like okay, I need to go back to school. I enlisted in the military to get money to go to school. I enlisted in the National Guard so I could go to school and continue to train because I had been boxing. I had been doing that, so I enlisted in the National Guard so I could box and go to school and still serve and get money from the military and also get some skills. The job I selected when I enlisted was the 94 alpha MOS class, which is land combat electrical missile systems repair. It’s a mouthful, but the TLDR is that you work on the electronic systems of military weaponry. I was trained to work on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with the Javelin system. There’s probably something else in there. I can’t remember.
The point is, I wanted to learn some kind of skill. I wanted to get something under my belt that I could turn into profit in the civilian world, so I do that. I go and that AIT, which is the second part of your basic training. There’s basic training and then you to your advanced individual training, where you get trained in your job. Well, the first six weeks of that, you go through something called BMET, the basic mechanical and electrical theory. Everyone at Fort Lee, Virginia, has to do this, which is where our school was. It was in that school that I realized holy heck, man. I really like electronics because my original goal was to go back for just pure math. I chose that because I was looking for a way to go to school and avoid lab work in case I needed to miss class because I had to work because I knew I was going to have to work. I didn’t have any money.
Well, I go and do BMET and I’m like holy heck, I really want to be an electrical engineer. This is really cool to me because you do a lot of electrical work. When I come back, that’s the first thing I do is I start going to the classes for electrical engineering, but then one of the classes you have to take is the physics component, physics one and physics two. I remember when it hit me. We were doing an experiment for kinematic motion, which is just motion independent of other forces, so just gravity and the initial velocity and some angle. We had to make a prediction where a bee would land and my prediction was spot on. It landed exactly where I thought it was going to land. I said, “This is like magic. This is what I want to do.” I decided at that point I was still going to go physics and electrical engineering, but I found a school that had both, a dual degree program, and eventually, I focused on physics. That’s what I’m going to graduate with this winter is a degree in physics. That’s kind of how that happened.
Brett McKay: Yeah, so what do you plan on doing with that degree in physics?
Ed Latimore: It’s funny about that. One of the reasons why I switched to just physics is because I would have to spend another year in school to get the full degree program. It’s a five-year program and I’m on pace to finish my degree if it was just a four-year program in three-and-a-half years. That’s combined with taking the semester off. I really, really hauled ass because I felt like I had so much time to make up for. With that said, what am I going to do with my degree?
Well, over the past year, things have really developed in terms of my writing and my outreach. What I’ve always dreamed of, I enjoy science, but I really excel at communication and writing. At the very least, I think I have a natural talent that can be honed and get me into the top percent in the world. I’ll never be a top 10% scientist. I’m not that intelligent. I don’t care that much about writing. I do believe I can be a top 10% communicator, storyteller, and speaker and teacher, in that regard, too. I learned that this past year, as well, that I really enjoy the teaching-tutoring aspect and seeing people understand concepts and explain them.
As to what I want to do with my physics degree, the short answer is nothing directly. The long answer is whatever doors open up to me as a result of that education. Some have already. I got several private tutoring jobs over the course of the year when I needed to make money. We’ll get into that later why I needed to make money. I got those because I’m a physics major and I have a gift for explaining ideas to people. It isn’t a thing that I’m going to go into industry with because I don’t want to work for someone and I really don’t like the idea of being told what to do or where to be. This almost cost me two notable times in my basic training, but once you get to your unit, it’s a little more lax. That’s where I’m going to go with my physics degree, pretty much wherever I want to, but not for someone else.
Brett McKay: How old were you when you finally went back to college and how old are you now?
Ed Latimore: I went back to college, my very first day of college, I would’ve been 28. Yeah, 28 would’ve my first day. Now, I’m 32. I’ll be 33 in February. I’m going to finish right on time. I would’ve finished earlier if I hadn’t taken off some time. I tell people that because I remember saying to my girlfriend at the time, who’s still my girlfriend, which is great, I remember saying to her and to everyone in general, but her first, I said, “Look, no matter what, unless something horrible happens, I’m going to be 33 anyway. The difference is will I turn 33 with the ability to earn more money and have a better life for myself or will I turn 33 still chasing after little not minimum wage, but slightly above minimum wage jobs with nothing to show for how intelligent I believe I am and I haven’t challenged myself?” I’m really happy that I decided to because a lot of people don’t and even when they do decide to go back to school, it’s certainly not for something as rigorous as physics or engineering. Now, we’re almost done and I can look back and go, “Wow, I finished it,” so …
Brett McKay: No, I love that because I know a lot of guys who feel like well, I wasted my 20s. It’s too late for me. You’re proof no, it’s not. You can get started anytime.
Ed Latimore: It is never too late. Oh, you’re talking to a guy when I came back from my basic, I remember I got home from basic and AIT and everything. I got back like December 20th, maybe 21st. I went out drinking and celebrating, woke up, and I was just like you know what? Alcohol is going to inhibit me making any progress. I got too much important stuff. I got a great relationship. I have the military now and then you have the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as the legal system if you get pulled over for a DUI. I have my academics that I really am taking seriously now and boxing was picking up, as well. I was like you know what? There’s no place for it, so I stopped drinking. That’s a hard shift to make for most people when I bring that up or when I talk about it, but it was so important to me because I was like you know what? I wasted all this time. I got all that drinking and partying out of my system that I should’ve did when I was 18 to 22. It’s over. It’s out of my system now. Let’s fix things. It’s never too late to have the idea that you can fix things and improve your life.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about your writing, where you’re headed. It’s where you’re spending more of your time on. What are you trying to do with your writing? What kind of themes are you exploring?
Ed Latimore: Initially, well, initially and still, the whole point of my writing is to organize my thoughts and to see how I have learned what I have taken from my life, which has been very unique. We probably won’t get into it in the podcast here, but there’s a whole background of where I grew up and how I grew up and things I took from that, as well as, I guess, the early 20s phase and even now. What I try and do with my writing is I try and break down what I have already experienced. You can get something from it.
My little motto that I have for my writing I haven’t put up officially on the site is that I take what I’ve learned the hard way and break it down so you can learn it the easy way. That is the number one goal of every single thing I write in a nonfiction aspect is to somehow, someway, make sure people can learn things without going through the things I had to go through. At the very least, make them think differently about a decision or a course of action. If that inspires someone who’s 16 to go a different path or to inspire someone who’s 60 to decide that they can go start and do something to improve their life, then I have succeeded in what I set out to do with the words I put to the screen or the pad.
Brett McKay: Well, let’s talk about your background. What it is about your background that allowed you to learn things the hard way?
Ed Latimore: Well, I grew up dirt poor. I am straight out the projects. I’m a ghetto kid. I don’t have ghetto tendencies and if I didn’t tell you that, you probably wouldn’t guess it, but no, man, I grew up in really rough area, rough background, very poor, lot of violence around me. Seeing those things and then learning how to not only navigate that situation, but eventually get away from it and excel without moving out. People forget, certainly my close friends sometimes forget … When I say close friends, I’m talking about people I met from the age of 14 after, where I went to a school on the other side of town, not the schools that my neighborhood would’ve fed me into. Even then, I realized my decision to go to that school, that wasn’t all my mom’s decision. A lot of that was like okay, I see where everyone’s going and I see where that’s going. I don’t want to be like that, but here’s this opportunity to go to a different place across town with a different crowd of people from a different background. Let me do that if for any other reason than I know where they’re going, I don’t want to go.
Having that experience, to come up and learn to take care of myself early, there was some things in my personal life that forced me to learn to deal with myself and manage and go okay, I’m in this thing in this world alone. Let me figure it out. When you have to do that, when you get baptized by fire in that regard, you make some really big mistakes, but if you survive them, you are so much further ahead than the average person who doesn’t even know these problems exist, let alone how to settle and deal with them.
I always joke. Oh, it’s not joking, but I tell it in a joking fashion that I think one of the biggest problems today with the way people interact, particularly Millennials, is that they’ve never been punched in the face for being disrespectful. I don’t think anyone should ever get hit over words. Let me make that clear. Where I grew up, you never knew who didn’t care about going back to jail, going to jail, or who had a reputation to protect. You just led into every interaction with a minimum level of respect and manners. If things got real, they got real, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble by just uttering the phrase, “My bad,” when you make a mistake. People can’t even do that anymore today, at least far fewer than what I grew up in in the environment and the time.
Brett McKay: What was it about you that was inside of you that you were able to make that decision to improve your situation? There’s a lot of people who they’re in the same situation as you were and they just go with the flow. They’re just sort of like crabs in a bucket, right? They just let the other crabs pull them back down. What do you think was different with you?
Ed Latimore: I know one of the things that I’m really grateful for is that despite everything else in my background that fits the trend, one trend that I’m very grateful for that we did not follow is my father was in my life until he died. He died when he was 18. He didn’t live with me. He lived in Philadelphia. He made that decision despite the emotional pull. I think my mom wanted him to stay in Pittsburgh and he was like, “For what I know how to do, there’s no work and I just want to get away,” so he went and he did that. Then when he was away, I’d go visit him and I’d go see a different life. It wasn’t that different. My dad didn’t have money, obviously, but he worked for things and he focused on what was important beyond money, like he saved up and he took us to the beach. It was easy to drive six hours to the beach from Philadelphia.
Going there, I got to see wow, there’s a whole different world because kids in the ghetto don’t go to the beach. They don’t see that. My dad took us. I said to my dad, I was like, “Man, I really want to learn how to ski. I think it might be cool.” Only now as I’m older am I aware how much the financial burden was for him, even though he was working. He went and paid for ski lessons, so I was like I’m the only kid in the ghetto knows how to ski. I used to play a game when I got to high school and I was around a different crowd and they had ski trips, I used to play a game. Let’s say it was called spot the black person. It was just me having fun in the ski lodge, but the point is that I got to see different things very early.
I’m very fortunate that that occurred, that I was able to spend some time with my father and at the very least, see a different way and know that there was something, there was another possibility than what I’d seen. I think a lot of people lack that. They don’t get to see that there is another life, that there is another way. It’s one thing to read about it on the internet, to see pictures of a place. It’s a totally different experience to walk with sand beneath your feet and go, “I really like this warm weather. How can I make sure my life somehow gets me closer to it?”
Brett McKay: I love that’s great. Let’s get into some of the themes in your book, Not Caring What People Think About You is a Superpower. I love you start off the book talking about discipline. You’re doing a lot with your time, so I imagine you’ve had to learn how to discipline yourself. It sounded like you didn’t always have that discipline and there was that moment you realized you needed it. What did you start doing? What were those first steps? We talk about physics, right? An object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion … It goes something like that. To get something moving takes a lot of energy and force. What was the thing that you did to get yourself going in that disciplined route in life?
Ed Latimore: The first thing I have to state is that always, always, always and I believe this is trainable. I’m fortunate, I guess, in that I didn’t have a choice but to develop this trait. If you can suffer, if you can endure pain, man, there’s a place for you in this world somewhere because if you can endure pain, that means that you’ll do what it takes if you know what you want to happen. There are a lot of people with grit, but they don’t know what to do with it. They’re just like, “Oh, man, I’ll slug out these night shifts and these 20-hour shifts.” I’m like, “Well, you can take that grit and you can apply it somewhere else depending on what you want.” I preface it with that.
Once I realized that I needed to change, it was just a matter of looking around and going okay, what do I need to do to make X, Y, and Z happen? You always need to have some type of future orientation. You need to be able to stop and look in the future and go okay, I see that I would like to not … Okay, so here was a big deal for me. I remember this clearly. Right before I went to LA, you always need hard things to wake you up or bad things to wake you up. Right before I went to LA and started training, I got invited out there. It’s not like I went and struck out and went on my own. I got invited and they paid for me to fly and everything and my living expenses out there. Right before that happened, the lease on where we lived, that ended. I didn’t have any money because my unemployment had just run out. Mind you, I’m on unemployment at this time. Also, my credit rating was sub 500, so no one would even rent to me. Let me tell you what it’s like to know that even if you have the money in the bank, no one’s going to put you in a place to live. Miserable. I was so grateful that LA happened.
What that did for me though when I was in LA, I had no bills and they were paying me I think like three grand a month. Every single dime I got I put towards paying off any debt, paying off anything and started boosting my credit. I was like you know what? I’m going to delay and I seen a lot of guys around me, they didn’t understand what I was doing. I was like no, no, no, no. I know what it’s like because of that pain of not experiencing the freedom to get a place to live, so I’m going to make sure in the future, when this happens, you always got to look and go oh, yeah, am I going to need to get a place again? Let me make sure this won’t happen.
I tell that story to illustrate that to have discipline, to develop discipline, self-discipline, you have to be able to suffer. Once you realize that, you got to have a thing you’re suffering for. I’m not going to go out because I’m … Then that’s a small suffering, small sacrifice. It’s not as big as okay, I’m going to join the military and go away from everything I’ve known and endure basic training, so I can get money to go to school and I can have a skillset on my resume in case I want to work. All these things, you need to be able to look to the future, see where you want go, see what you have to do to get there. That part, what you have to do to get there, is always going to be uncomfortable and is always going to require self-discipline and self-control. I believe that if you have a strong enough why, you’ll figure out the how. To get your why, you have to be able to project into the future.
Brett McKay: You just referenced it a little bit, that idea of you write about in the book, good pain and bad pain. What’s the difference between the two?
Ed Latimore: Good pain is the pain you endure in pursuit of something that you believe wholeheartedly will improve your life. Bad pain is the pain you suffer avoiding the things that you know will make you better. By definition, that means the things you’re avoiding that will make you better means yourself almost certainly doing something that’ll make you worse. You can have the pain of a hangover or you can have the pain of spending three hours in the gym per day. Both are painful, but the difference is spending your time in the gym is going to eventually get you a body that should make you more attractive and more appealing to people and make you healthier. Or you can be on the bed also with a hangover, taking years off your life, probably doing something stupid and embarrassing or probably have done something stupid and embarrassing en route to getting that hangover, so that little example with drinking.
We take it to a bigger level. You can be in the right now, I’m just unbelievably miserable finishing this final semester of physics because it’s so difficult. I love the material, but it’s so difficult. I know that in December, I’ll be able to probably say I finished this thing. Whether I use it or not is kind of irrelevant at this point now because if I can, there are jobs, and if I don’t, I’ve learned how to make money and fend for myself. I’ll have that. I have finished this thing. I have done this and it is hanging here. It’s mine. It was painful, but I did it. There were sacrifices, but I did it. There were life changes that I didn’t want to make, but I knew I had to make, but I did it. Or I could’ve spent the past four years living like a fool, partying, drinking, going out, doing minimum wage work to have just enough money to pay rent in a shitty part of town and feed myself horrible food. I’ll be in pain at 33, but what did I get for it? I was avoiding doing the hard work that would’ve made my life better. Those are the two kinds of pain. You get the pain from going after something that you want, something that you desire, something that’s going to make your life better, or you get the pain of suffering the consequences of avoiding that work.
Brett McKay: How do you keep yourself going in pursuit of those longterm goals that you have because a lot of these things you’re going after take a while, take years. Becoming a professional boxer, that takes years of training. Getting a degree, that takes a certain amount of time. It’s painful. It’s not fun, oftentimes. How do you keep yourself going in spite of all that?
Ed Latimore: I love the process. You have to fall in love with the process because if you focus on the outcome, I think … Okay. You ever hear that story or what they say the slowest pot to boil is the one you’re watching? It’s because you’re watching it with the expectation it’ll boil and that’s all you can think about. You forget that it takes time to put the energy into the molecules and the water. It’s got to reach a certain level of energy and then got to start moving, all this stuff. All you’re focused on is the outcome of that water boiling, so it seems like it takes forever. You should get bored and walk away, right?
You take the same approach to anything you want to achieve and accomplish in life. If you only focus on the outcome, if I was only saying, “Well, man. I can’t wait until I’m selling a million books and I’m a professional boxer and I have this physics degree.” I might get bored. I might start to hate the work I have to do and I think a lot of people focus only on the outcome. Then when they really get in there and start going and they hit that middle part where they’re too far along to reasonably quit and they can’t see the beginning, but they still can’t see the end, they’re like what have I gotten myself into? Then that’s when people drop out. They decide that it’s not worth it. They lose their motivation.
However, if you go into this knowing or thinking that the process, the enjoyment of adding new skills or putting new things in your mind or understanding the Universe, that’s enjoyable, or seeing how people respond to little articles and how they write you for a little thing that you shared and the impact that you can make and the skill you can increase on how you string words together and express yourself. That’ll keep you going because then now you’re getting enjoyment from the process. Since the process never ends, you’ll always be happy. You won’t lose motivation. The moment you start focusing only on outcomes and you only care about the outcome, you will get bored. You will hate it or you’ll start to take shortcuts. A shortcut always appears to save you time, but that interest is running and you have to pay it back somehow, someway at the end.
Brett McKay: Yeah, it’s true. I’ve noticed in my own life whenever I focus on the outcome, like even when you achieve the outcome you wanted, it’s always kind of a letdown when you actually achieve it.
Ed Latimore: It’s no fun. I’m sitting here right now as I talk to you. There’s a book open next to me, a solid state physics book. I was doing a little studying before we started talking. It’s just really interesting to me how all of this works. I’m learning about something called … frequency. The science of it is beyond what I understand right now enough to explain it casually. The point is that I want to learn how to understand it casually, so I’m not going to get frustrated when I don’t. I just take that as part of the understanding process. It’s like you have to not know before you do know. Otherwise, you would know and you would never not know, so moving from not knowing to knowing to novice to expert to inadequate to sufficient to beyond, that is a process. You have to love that process. Otherwise, you’ll just quit, man. I don’t want to quit. I don’t.
Brett McKay: Right. You have to love it, too, because you talk about this in your book. You’re going to be mediocre at this stuff for a long time.
Ed Latimore: For a long time. To put it in perspective, I’ve been boxing now for over 10 years. I did not learn how to properly like to where I would feel comfortable going, “Here’s how you should do this,” I did not feel comfortable throwing jabs or straight rights probably until about year eight, to where I could walk into a ring and throw this shot real time. Now, like against the bag where it’s not hitting back or there’s not stress, that long. I’ve seen guys … I tell this story to people to illustrate what happens when you care about only the outcome. When I was an amateur, there was a guy that came into our gym. I won’t say his name in case he oddly enough listens to this, but I doubt he will. He came into my gym and he was doing great. He won like his first seven or eight fights and won them big. Then he goes to his eighth fight and he gets stopped. He decides that boxing and by stopped, I mean he gets TKO’d in the third round. He decides that boxing is not for him. I’m like, “What? You just lost one time and it wasn’t even like it was your first fight. You had eight fights. Why would you think that?”
For him, it was about the outcome. He was talking to me the whole time about how he had invited these girls to come see him fight and he was worried about having the girls meet each other. I was like, man, I didn’t really understand it at the time or get it or care, really. Later on, I thought back to that and I was like wow, that guy was just in it for the accolades and the recognition. The minute they took that away from him, the outcome, he was like, “Well, okay. This sucks. I’m going to leave. I’m going to get out of here.” That’s miserable.
Brett McKay: You have an article about what it’s like losing a boxing match on national TV, no less. What was that experience like for you in the moment? What was it like the days afterwards? Were you able to process it?
Ed Latimore: In the moment, it’s funny, 10 months, it took 10 months for me to finally watch myself get knocked out. It also took months for me to finally say I got knocked out. It’s a really weird feeling you have with that. It really humbles your ego and you really learn to … You learn it’s not the end of the world. You know that intellectually, but now I know it viscerally. I understand that people lose. I will maybe lose again when I start fighting again at the end of this year. How I dealt with it in the moment, to be totally honest with you, my first thought was holy heck, we just paid for this trip to Paris. How am I going to pay now because they’re going to take my contract? That was my first thought. We already paid for the trip, but I was like how am I going to enjoy myself in Paris? They’re going to cut my contract. I know it.
You learn, man. You get tough skin. Social media is rough, man. People did not care because I had crossed over. Once they seen you on television, I was no longer a human being that they were interacting with. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone I interact with on the social media scene, but a lot of people, they kind of see you as this thing that is not real, like a television show. They talk to you like you don’t have feelings. When you’re in the moment right after the fight, man, that stuff. I woke up one night and some guy wrote on my wall, “Man, you got knocked the eff out, homey.” I was like man, why would you write that? I just deleted and banned him. Now, I don’t care. Now, I look at it and go wow, that’s a learning experience. If you’ve ever been in a fight at that level, most people aren’t making five figures when they lose. They just lose fights and look like jackasses. I had to remind myself of these little things about how far I’d gotten, but then I got fired up afterwards a few months later. I was like all right. I’m going to come back and I’m definitely going to do well and I could look and see what I learned.
For the most part, because this is a strength and a weakness of mine, I’m so detached emotionally from many things and this fight included. I didn’t feel a certain kind of pain, but I did know that I was in for a thrashing on social media. I think I feared that, but also, and I wrote in the article about the fight that when you fall down, you’re on your way up and you fall down, the people you pass metaphorically, when you pass on the way back down, how you treated them on the way up is how they’re going to treat you times 10 on the way down. It was at that point that I realized that I was a cool guy and I was really … Again, that’s always my stick. I’d rather learn and connect with people. I’m never interested in boasting or bragging beyond self-promotional things. Even then, I don’t do that too well.
After the fight, I just was angry. I just wanted to sleep and I was sad. I write about this. The next day, I look at the news and at this point in time, some guy walked into a mall in Washington and shot up some people. There was a cover on the Aleppo, Syria thing. There were the protests in Charlotte, North Carolina because I think there was some kind of police shooting. I was just like man, there’s real problems. The worst thing that happened to me, I lost a fight and got paid, at that. I’m like whatever. Well, not whatever, but it really put things in perspective for me the next day. It didn’t bother me too long. I was just like I got to get back to real life and deal with things.
Now, it’s weird. After all this time, now I have a competitive drive and burn. I really can’t wait to get back in there after this degree is behind me. If I was focused on the outcome, that would be it. Someone asked me the other day, “Are you going to retire from boxing?” I’m like, “Why would I do that? I’m only 32.” I think five of the top 10, maybe a little more, all of them are over 33. I’m like man, I have great upshot. I’ve only lost one fight and more importantly, I lost it in a really … Boxing’s a strange business. Losing that fight that way with my record, definitely financially was one of the best things that could happen to me.
Also, in terms of marketability, it’s so easy to get fights now because people think they can beat me, which is great, but there’s not a lot of tape. The fight didn’t last beyond one round and I believe the official stoppage was sometime around the two minute mark, so there’s nothing out there. We have a chance to do a really great thing when we come back and I will be completely cleared of my schedule. I won’t have the degree I was juggling and juggling. I won’t have military service I was juggling. I can really focus and see how good I can really become.
Brett McKay: Failure has its challenges. Success also comes with its own challenges. People don’t think about that, but it does. You get complacent. You get lazy. How do you keep your edge, even when you’ve experienced success? You were saying you’re on your way up with your boxing until you go to this match. How did you keep your edge during that time and how have you kept your edge when you’ve experienced the other successes in the other parts of your life?
Ed Latimore: Oh, man, because I know from hardcore experience, intellectually, all that. I understand that one, there’s always someone better. Everything is a competition. You cannot forget that. The moment you forget it’s a competition, you will lose the competition. You’ll wonder what happened. Well, you were competing. You stopped competing. Part of what keeps a person competitive is you have to remember it never ends. It’s never going to end. It’s always going to be stressful. You’ll always be tested. There’s always going to be something to draw out a better part of you. As long as you remember that, you’re never going to feel satisfied what you accomplish.
I think the most elation I’ve ever felt … To put it in perspective, you guys contacted me to join this wonderful podcast. I was like man, that’s great. They recognize my writing. My first thought after I think I went and had an ice cream cone and my first thought while I was eating the ice cream cone, I was like man, but I’ve really got to finish this other project and I’ve really got to finish this degree thing and this Twitter project I’m going to come out with. This is great. I never get caught up. There’s a Twitter project I’m working on, but I never get caught up in what I’ve accomplished because I know that it’s all transient. It’s all going to stop. One, you can’t keep paying yourself on past things unless you had something really great, but even then, the attrition of life is very real, or the inflation of life, I should say, that if you’re doing the same thing in a year that you’re doing today, man, you’ve wasted a lot of time.
You apply that over an even larger time scale, if I was behaving the same way now that I was behaving at 22, oh, goodness, I would be embarrassed. You wouldn’t be talking to me. I would just be chilling around probably somewhere in a bar at happy hour being a fool. That’s how you stay focused and that’s how you keep going is that you remember that it never is going to end and what you done loses value almost immediately. You have to just keep chasing new ways to be cool and new ways to be interesting and new ways to prove to yourself that it wasn’t luck. I think that’s what really drives me is that I’m really concerned that anything I’ve done is luck, so I have to repeat it. That’s how I battle my own impostor syndrome is I have to prove to myself that I did not just stumble upon whatever I’ve stumbled upon. It wasn’t just a good idea at a good time, that I can do it over and over and over again and live by the merit of my own mind and accomplishments.
Brett McKay: Yeah, what you were saying reminded me of a phrase I’ve heard. Success isn’t owned. It’s borrowed. The rent is due every day.
Ed Latimore: Every single day. I’m so busy, I haven’t had a chance to write anything new for my blog and I can just see every day the traffic is on a downward slope. It has a negative slope. While it has sustained itself, it’s big enough now, just big enough, not huge, but just big enough to where people can find it through search engines looking up very important terms, at least, important to me. I know that I need to get out there and do something new. I need to get out there and put out some new work. I’ll just stay up one night all night after I put mechanics or electromagnetism in my mind.
Brett McKay: You also have a section in your book dedicated to self-control. I’m curious. Your first part of your book was a lot about self-discipline and you had a section on self-control. Do you see the two as different and if so, how?
Ed Latimore: Very much so, very different. Self-discipline is about what you do. Self-control is about what you don’t do. You self-discipline yourself. You go to the gym every day. This is a very good example, actually, now that I’m thinking about it in my head before I say it. Self-discipline is going to the gym every day, no matter how you feel, and doing some kind of work or sticking to the routine that you’ve created. That is self-discipline. That gets you to move. That makes you do a thing when you were not doing a thing before. Self-control is not eating ice cream every day. Self-control is not ordering a shot after you’ve already had too many. Self-control is about keeping you from succumbing to your worst tendencies, the tendencies of a human being that, if left to their own devices, will destroy and consume that person and prevent them from even being in a position to exercise their self-discipline. Self-control is not having another drink and getting behind the wheel of a car because that’ll ruin your life if you get pulled over and it doesn’t matter how much self-discipline you have.
At the very least, the benefit you can derive from that self-discipline now are significantly limited because your opportunities are going to be limited and that’s just assuming you don’t go to jail. Self-discipline is about making yourself do new things. Self-control is keeping yourself from doing things that probably will undo you. That is the big difference to me. I think it’s important to separate the two. We talk about training people. I used to give training advice. I don’t anymore, really, unless a person really asks. I think one of the most important things, one of the most important sayings they have in the fitness world, is that you can’t out train a bad diet, right there. You can run miles, man, but if you are going out and drinking every night because you can’t control yourself to be busy on the thing that will make you better because we all want to have fun. We’re people. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. If you can’t control yourself to do that, then you’re going to only seek pleasure and the pain, like we were talking about earlier, the pain is how you do things, chasing the pain of achievements.
Brett McKay: A lot of your audience is male. I’m curious. In your experience with working with your audience, interacting with them, where have you seen a lot of men fail when it comes to self-control?
Ed Latimore: A lot of guys, the biggest or the most consistent downfall, guys really want female attention. They will settle on whatever attention they get as opposed to having a standard for themselves because the self-discipline part is getting yourself to the gym, making sure you learn a skill so you can make some money, dressing well, ironing your clothes before you go out. Those are just things you do. The self-control part, goodness gracious. They don’t think about the quality of the woman, what she brings to the table to make the interaction worthwhile to be part of. Sex is abundant. Half of the population is female, so that gives you a little leeway to be selective and to decide what is most important for you and to not just fawn over and fall in love with the first woman who gives you a little more attention and a little more love and feeling than the other one.
I talk about this all the time. Not all the time, but enough. I say that a big problem is you can’t trust a guy who is not capable of dealing with women well because he will sell you out the moment he’s got a chance to if the woman will give him something he wants. Understand this. Look at every ad for cigarettes. Well, not so much anymore, but look at every ad for alcohol. You’re not even legally allowed to drink, but how do they circumvent that and hijack your brain? They put beautiful women onboard because they know that if there’s a woman involved, you’ll do something.
I’ll never forget. When this game really hit me, I was walking through the mall and there were a group of women. They were selling this soap, this black soap. This is important the soap was black might because black soap. They were like, “Come here and check out this demonstration on how this soap cleans your hands.” They wash my hands and the soap would rinse off and they were like, “Look at all that dirt in the tub.” The soap was $75 and I’m sitting here thinking this is some $75 soap and all it did was disintegrate and come off into the bin. You can’t see that.
Why is it selling? Why are they able to make a living that way? Because man, these were beautiful Sephardic Jewish women. They looked like Princess Jasmine. It was incredible and there were three of them. Any guy that came up, if he was any kind of a slob or whatever, he would spend money. Logically, you sit and think about it, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how we fall into it, no self-control. That’s that human tendency. A pretty girl touched your hand and now you’re like wow, that never happens to me. Let me spend money on this $75 soap that just washes down the drain.
Brett McKay: All right. The sex part, looking for the short term, the physical satisfaction with women, that’s to the hinderment of their longterm happiness and fulfillment.
Ed Latimore: Absolutely, and somebody is getting paid off of it because they know. They know that most of us don’t have self-control. They see women, they go, “Oh, man, these girls are going to like me. I better spend this money now.”
Brett McKay: This is a nice segue to our next part of your book, about relationships. Let’s talk about the title of your book, Not Caring About What People Think About You is a Superpower. There’s a section in your book about this. Why is not caring about what people think about you a superpower?
Ed Latimore: Because you have to remember something. Very few of us are fortunate enough to be born into a very supportive environment. I don’t think that lack of support comes from people who actively want to keep us down. I don’t think it is an active, intentional, crab-in-a-bucket mindset. What I do think is I think change terrifies people because if you change and you get what you want, what is the excuse the other person has for not doing that? You’ve eliminated, especially if you have a similar handicap or impediment.
If you want to get what you want, you’re going to have to act opposite of the people around you, opposite of the wishes of your parents, opposite of what you’ve known your entire life. That societal pressure is way more powerful than people give it credit for, give credit to. You’re going to have to, at some point, go wow, it is not going … You’ve just got to look at it and go, “Does it matter? Do I care what you think? Do I care what collectively a bunch of people think?” because it’s not just one person. One person by themselves isn’t a mob. It’s a bunch of people who go crazy that turns into a mob. Likewise, one person who disagrees with you, everyone can deal with that. We call those people friends a lot of times. When a whole group is adamantly opposed to the way you see the world, the way you think, a goal you have, or they tell you it’s impossible, you have to not care what they think because the moment you care, then your emotions get involved and your emotions are powerful. They’re going to make you go ah, man, this is really painful. You probably shouldn’t do this. You can’t care.
I think one of the things that I think I’m most grateful for in the weirdest way is I don’t have a great relationship with my mother, so I never am swayed by my mom trying to emotionally get me to think a certain way because I don’t care. I don’t think that’s the best way to that mindset, but I recognize that mindset prevents me from ever making a decision based on what my family wants. I grew up and our parents come from a generation where this country was way more segregated than it is … I don’t even think it is today. There were literal laws on the books when my mother was a child. She couldn’t understand why I would ever have white friends or a white girlfriend. Fortunately for me, I didn’t care what she thought and those people are the best friends of my life. If I had cared, maybe I would’ve altered some decisions and some of the good friendships that I made.
When I say you don’t care what people think, you have to not care what people think when you start to change, when you start to go beyond now. Now granted, for any pedantic people listening, I’m not talking about if someone says, “Man, you’re probably drinking too much,” or, “Man, you should probably stop smoking crack.” You should care about that stuff because we’re talking about your wellbeing. When we talk about actions where there’s no harm, you’re not breaking the law, and it’s really just a different way to think and see the world, you cannot care because to make any action, you have to change how you think to begin with. That’s where it starts.
Brett McKay: It sounds like you don’t care what all people don’t think about. It’s certain people. You probably reach a moment where you find a new group of community, new friends, where they have the same standards as you. They’re going in the same direction as you. Yeah, you care about what they think about you because they’re holding you accountable.
Ed Latimore: Absolutely. Someone said to me a very, very long time ago … I don’t talk to the person anymore, but this always stuck in my mind. This was for a romantic relationship, but I think it applies to all kinds of relationships. She said that for two people to work, they have to be going in the same direction at about the same time at about the same speed. If any of those factors are not similar, someone has to be willing to slow down, change direction, or wait. That really stuck with me because when you do change and when you decide you want to be something different, you have to remember that a lot of people are going to remember and will feel comfortable with the old you and the new you is going to piss them off. It’s not going to piss them off because they don’t want you to succeed. They just don’t know how to deal with the change. You’re literally a new human being with new values and a new standard that you hold yourself to.
Well, think about it. If you’ve bee hanging around with people and you had one standard for your life and now you have a higher one, you’re going to ruffle feathers. At the very least, there are going to be some people who feel like you feel like that you’re better than them, that you don’t deserve to do this. They’ll take subtle jabs or maybe overt jabs at you. You still have to persevere and the only way to persevere is to reach a point where you go, “I don’t care what you think.”
Sometimes you say it directly. Sometimes it’s implied by not responding, but either way, the idea remains. Your opinion holds no sway and furthermore, your opinion is going to block what I’m trying to do, so we can’t vibe at that level anymore. It’s not like you lose love for these people or anything like that. It’s just that you understand that emotionally, they’re not ready to deal with a change. Now, once again, if you’re doing something stupid, listen to your friends. If you’re just changing how you think and going after something different, you got to do it. You have to change. You have to make adjustments in your own life and get around people who do think and have that standard because they’ll push you up. Peer pressure can elevate you or it can hold you down. It’s just whichever kind of pressure you want.
Brett McKay: Well, Ed, this has been a great conversation. There’s a lot more we could talk about, but where can people go to learn more about your work?
Ed Latimore: My website, www.edlatimore.com. All my writing is there and links to other things that are related to and affiliated with me. My Twitter account, which is where I’m highly active. I love Twitter. I think it rewards verbal acumen. My Twitter account is the same, Ed Latimore, @EdLatimore dot … No, not dot com, just @EdLatimore. My Facebook page, my Facebook fan page, Ed Latimore Boxer. I’m mostly active on my website and my Twitter, so that’s the best place you can find me, edlatimore.com and @EdLatimore.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Well, Ed Latimore, thank you much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Ed Latimore: All right. Thank you very much.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Ed Latimore. He’s the author of the book Not Caring What Other People Think is a Superpower. You can find that on amazon.com. Also, check out his website, edlatimore.com, where you can find more of his writing. Also, connect with him on Twitter, @EdLatimore. Also, check out our show notes at aom.is/latimore, where you can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
Well, that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, makes sure check out the Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoy the podcast, have got something out of it, I’d appreciate it if you’d take one minute to give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, helps out a lot. Also, share the podcast with four or five of your friends. That helps out a lot, as well. Thank you so much for your continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.