Kill! Kill! Kill!: What My Dad Taught Me About Competition, Excellence, and Success

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Those are words my dad, Big Jim Frisella, taught me when my brother and I were little. They pretty much sum up his approach to parenting. And life. One of my earliest memories is of my dad giving Sal and me each a pair of boxing gloves and making us box. We were three and four years old!

As we got older, we played all sorts of sports. Football, baseball, wrestling, Lacrosse, hockey—you name it. And my dad didn’t want us to participate in sporting events. He wanted us to dominate them.

As we were driving to a football game or wrestling match or whatever, my dad would say, “Now, boys, listen up! When you get in there you’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to go in the corner and you’ve got to get that fucking puck out!” He’d always say “puck.” Even if we weren’t playing hockey. “Dad,” we’d say. “This is soccer.” “I don’t care what it is!” he’d say. “You just go in there and get it!” “What are you going to do today?” he’d ask, as serious as if he was commanding troops in battle. “Kill!” we’d yell in our squeaky, pre-pubescent voices, sounding like a couple of murderous thugs from a boy choir.

It was also understood that if, during a game, we ran over another kid or we scored a goal, we got a toy. We’d get to go to K-Mart or Wal-Mart afterward and pick out a good one. Not some Cracker Jack prize or trinket from a bubble gum machine. A legit toy—like a G.I. Joe action figure or a Transformer or something like that.

“What are you going to do?” my dad would ask a second time. “Kill! Kill! Kill!”

Some people get all offended by that story because they don’t understand the point my dad was trying to make.

  • It was never about hurting people
  • It was never about getting toys
  • It wasn’t even about sports

My dad wanted to teach us to be aggressive.  He wanted us to be competitive, because he knew that what Rocky Balboa said was true:

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done.

My dad knew that life is hard, and that in order to succeed in anything, you have to develop a mindset and personal conduct that is serious as blood and tough as mother fucking nails.  He knew that success requires a killer competitive attitude and an unparalleled will to win.

Developing a competitive mindset and character is a necessity of being successful.  It doesn’t mean you focus on other people’s losses.  It means you have the will to be the best no matter what you’re doing in life, whether you work on the Stock Market trading floor—or you’re just sweeping it.

Because here’s the reality (and I will repeat this so many times because it is the mother fucking truth):

Our whole human existence and experience is set up for competition.

You look at a fucking video game made for a two-year-old:  It keeps score. Life on planet Earth is not kindergarten. It’s kill or be killed.  The world is not a playground. It’s a battleground.  It’s not syrup and sweetness. It’s survival of the fittest.  In the real world, nobody gives a shit about your feelings, your self-esteem, or your need for significance.  The real world deals in facts, not feelings, and what matters is action, execution, and results.  The reality is, history forgets whiners, but remembers winners.  Bottom line: The nature of real life demands that we see the pursuit of greatness and success as a competition—and only tough minded, hard-working, straight-shooting people win that competition.

That’s what my dad was trying to teach me.  That’s the message he was trying to drive into my head every single time we shouted out the Frisella family battle cry:

Kill!  Kill!  Kill!

Have you check out The MFCEO Project episode Competition Drives Excellence?

  • Ruben Taylor

    Thank you for this Andy.

    I have always been a pretty passive guy; I dropped a sport I was dominating in because I wasn’t used to having ‘competition’. I think reading this, especially in such a succint way, has shown me that I have to compete and I can’t let down because of the competition.

    Keep on hustlin’!