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3 Ways Boxing Has Made Me A Better Design Thinker

What do Design Thinking and boxing have in common? Surprisingly, more than you might think. As an Experience designer who has been boxing recreationally for the past two and a half years, I have discovered surprising parallels between these seemingly unrelated practices. In this article, I will share 3 key principles from boxing that have refined my approach to Design Thinking and my daily life.


Slow down to move fast

When watching boxing videos on social media, we usually see boxers executing long combinations with agility and fluidity. These videos are captivating to watch and sparked my interest in boxing. However, I learned that none of those boxers started out boxing this way. The key to being fast in your movements is slowing down each step to ensure the right technique. A boxer works on their speed only after perfecting their technique

This principle translated to the way I used Design Thinking. With pressure from tight deadlines, it is common to rush through the Design Thinking stages to arrive at solutions quickly. However, I have discovered that deliberately taking the time to go through each stage of the process thoroughly, results in better outcomes. Deliberately slowing down at certain checkpoints during a project allows me to reflect on the situation and ensures that I prioritise my time on needed steps effectively. This ultimately speeds up the overall design process as each stage is more thoughtfully executed.


Stay calm under uncertainty

Sparring with another boxer is inherently unpredictable. Each sparring partner is different, with different skill sets and fighting styles. Learning to stay calm under pressure from a barrage of punches and adapt to rapidly changing situations is crucial to being a good boxer. This ability to maintain composure and clarity in the face of uncertainty has been invaluable in my Design Thinking approach.

Design projects often involve navigating ambiguity and complex challenges. Staying calm under uncertainty allows me to approach these challenges with a clear mind, making thoughtful and informed decisions. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the unknown, I focus on taking things one step at a time. This approach enables steady progress even when faced with uncertainty.


Trusting the process

Boxing training has its highs and lows. You will inevitably have challenging moments such as progressing slower than expected or having setbacks due to injuries. Trusting the training process, staying committed, and believing in incremental improvements have been essential to my growth. This mindset has greatly influenced how I approach Design Thinking.

Design Thinking requires patience and persistence, as the best solutions often emerge through continuous refinement. Trusting the design process means embracing each stage fully and understanding that every step, even setbacks, contributes to the outcome. This trust fosters resilience and perseverance which enables me to push through challenges and stay focused on the end goal.


Boxing has taught me many valuable lessons that have made me a better Design Thinker. Slowing down to move fast reflects the importance of intentionally going through each stage to achieve better quality outcomes. Staying calm under uncertainty allows for better decision-making and adaptability in the face of complex challenges. Trusting the process fosters the patience and perseverance needed to push through setbacks and stay committed to the journey. 

These principles have not only made me a better boxer but also a more effective Design Thinker. Sometimes, the most unexpected activities can have more in common than you might think.

Shared by Syam Hussain, Experience Designer.

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