Ed Latimore is a bestselling author and former professional heavyweight boxer. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and at the age of 33 obtained a degree in physics. Ed wrote the book Sober Letters To My Drunken Self, and recently celebrated six years of sobriety. Ed shared how he used adversity to his advantage, what he learned from boxing, and much more. Here’s his story!
Who are you and what are you currently working on?
I’m Ed Latimore. I’m an entrepreneur and an influencer. I don’t really like calling myself an influencer because that implies that what I’m trying to do is specifically gain influence, which is not the case! The goal has always been to simply live my life and teach from it; I’ve been fortunate enough to have a life that people are interested in. I’ve been through some very hard things and overcome them, and in doing so, I think I’m in a position where I have some value. I now share that value through my blog EdLatimore.com, my newsletter, my books, and my Twitter account.
How did you come to be where you are now?
I grew up really poor in public housing projects in the United States. That gave me a certain amount of grit and a certain type of people skills, which I don’t think you can necessarily learn if you haven’t had that experience. It also really set me back with a lot of bad habits and made me susceptible to a lot of things. One of those was my relationship with alcohol. That had to change, so I got sober, and December 23rd was my six-year sobriety anniversary.
In my early 20s, I really felt like I wasn’t doing much with my life. I was working at a Starbucks and just surviving day to day. One day I decided that I needed to find something to put some sweat equity into, so I started boxing. The grit that I developed growing up led me to say: “I’m not gonna quit boxing. I’m gonna get beat out of it or someone’s going to tell me I gotta leave.” Low and behold, I’m 35, and though I haven’t had a fight since 2016, I stuck with it for over 12 years.
Boxing was good for me. It really built me up and took me places that helped me develop a lot of personality and people skills. I obviously developed a ton physically, but the best thing I got from boxing was just my ability to navigate different people, see what I was capable of, and identify opportunities for improvement.
Prior to boxing, I was a terrible math student. I decided to go back to school and this time I said, “Well if I learned how to be a boxer at a late age, I can learn how to do math.” I ended up graduating at age 33 with a degree in physics. Throughout all this, I needed money to go back to school, so I enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 27. It’s been an up and down journey, but I’ve learned something from every step along the way.
What are your goals or plans for the future?
It’s funny how your mindset changes throughout the years. Growing up poor, there were times that I just wanted to be able to have food in the fridge. My goal became to never have to worry about when I would next eat. Now I know that will never be a problem, so I have to keep asking what’s the next step? What’s the next thing I can do? How can I challenge myself? Where can I find motivation? I’m not just trying to survive anymore.
One of my goals for 2020 is to write fiction. I’d also like to pick up a few languages and have some kids soon. Something that I struggle with is that I’m not motivated by money. I’m motivated enough to never be broke, but if I were to accumulate a large sum of money, it would certainly be by accident, not by design. The good news is, I figured out this whole internet thing so I can be kind of an altruistic scientist. That’s always been what was interesting to me, especially after I got really deep into physics. I said, what can I do next? Where can I take these rare skills and apply them? I think the thing I want to look at next is the research surrounding concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and CTE.
What does growth mean to you?
To me, growth means being more capable of doing something, that I’m interested in doing, in some increment of time, that I couldn’t do before. That’s the scientist in me trying to come up with the best way to describe a behavior that everyone can look at and say, did you grow, or did you not grow? Am I able to do more than I could or do something different?
I’ll add a caveat to that: am I able to do more without hurting anyone else? Look at it this way: if you want a nice car, you can go steal a nice car, but that’s not growth. You gotta earn it, and not by hurting everyone else along the way.
I’m 34 now, and I think 33 was the first full year where I felt like a complete and total adult. Growth takes a while! People think they should have it all figured out at 22. No way! With the decade coming to an end, I sent out a newsletter, in which I talked about the most powerful things and the most potent lessons that I learned over the past decade. The one thing I focused on was the idea that you have to be willing to take risks and be patient. That can be very hard because those seem like two contradictory ideas, but you have to hold both in your mind at the same time. If you want to improve and develop, you have to be able to better yourself and take risks, but be patient and realize it’ll often take a little while for good things to happen.
What is one thing you learned from boxing?
Pain is the same as being tickled. It’s just a feeling. Are you going to give into it? Or are you going to keep going? Boxing forces you to make that choice because it’s not a pleasant activity. I wouldn’t say “Woohoo, let’s go box today!” It’s not like that. But if you can persist through the pain, you know you’ll always have a chance to come out on top and to have a good life.
Another huge lesson I learned from boxing is that you should really try to make friends wherever you go. You never know when or how that’s going to affect you. One thing we’re missing in today’s society is we don’t really have as many tight-knit bonds and groups as we used to. In boxing, there’s no money involved in amateurs; it’s just people trying to become better boxers. And even when you become a professional, there isn’t much money there either. So even though you see this huge display of aggression, everybody is really friends, or at the very least not enemies. Obviously, there are exceptions, but for the most part, no one really dislikes one another. Boxing is very much just what we do, and in that, we understand one another.
How do you overcome obstacles?
Someone once said that we are a conquering species. What that means is that we don’t know how to live if we don’t have something to overcome or to attack. In the Matrix, there’s this scene where the agent is talking to Morpheus about humanity. To paraphrase, he goes, “The first kind of simulation we designed for you guys was perfect. There were no wars, there were no diseases, nothing. And you rejected it. You couldn’t live without something to attack.” I think that is 150% true. You see it everywhere, even in our biology. One of the leading theories about food allergies is that as the GDP of a country increases, so does the rate of food allergy. Our immune system doesn’t just shut off without a word when we live in a very clean environment. No, it’s still revved up. It’s like, “I gotta attack something. How about peanuts!?”
I think one of the biggest problems people face in overcoming challenges, is that life is so comfortable, and comfort is the worst thing for a human. All this progress we’ve made is the result of somebody saying, “Man, you know what I don’t like? Waiting six weeks for someone to get my letter.” Or “You know what I don’t like? How hot it is in here.” People have been solving problems and making life easier, and now life is so easy that it’s really hurting our connection with one another. We’re finding ways to attack each other’s words and ideas—things that don’t matter. So I try to always find a way to push myself.
I don’t ever want to find myself looking for meaningless little things to overcome. I don’t care what someone’s gender is. I don’t care what someone’s race is. And I hope no one cares about mine. I’m more worried about things like my physical fitness. Or am I getting more intelligent? How is the quality of my relationships? Am I having hard conversations with people and doing it in a way to where they don’t feel attacked, and where they know that my criticism is coming from a place of love? Likewise, am I receiving criticism in a good way? Am I so used to everyone being nice, that I don’t know how to deal with a few rough words? That’s what I’m trying to do. I look at that as the only way to grow and the only way to exist.
It’s important to take on challenges that push your body against your environment, that push your mind against society, and that force you to diminish your ego. If you’re busy doing that, you won’t have time to worry about things that don’t matter, and you’ll have more time to focus on overcoming real challenges. You’re going to have a much happier life, which in turn is going to make you care even less about the nonsense. As I’m looking out my window right now, I can see the beach in Portugal. I don’t care about politics. I’m busy spending my life working out and training, cooking with my girl, or writing. There are so many ways to challenge myself, and that’s what you’ve got to do. Find a way to challenge yourself, and that’s going to make you stop caring about the nonsense.
What advice do you have for our readers?
Take risks. Bet on yourself, because no one cares about your success more than you do. Everyone else is going to be looking to take advantage of you and use you in one way or another. You have to make your life the way you want it to be, not what someone else wants it to be. That’s going to require taking risks. You’ve got to take risks, you’ve got to better yourself, and then you’ve got to be willing to go all in. That’s the only way you’re going to have an extraordinary life.