Everybody’s got plans…until they get hit.
“Everybody’s got plans…until they get hit,” are the wise words of Mike Tyson, the former undisputed world champion heavyweight boxer. Tyson spoke this now famous quote in reference to reporters asking him how he planned to handle an upcoming opponent in a boxing match. Yet, this quote has wisdom that extends well beyond boxing making it of my all time favorites.
We all have plans. To lose 10 pounds. To run a 5K. To never yell at our kids. To cook healthy meals. To be a patient manager. To watch less TV and read more.
Then we get hit. Cupcakes show up in the staff room. Our workout partner cancels your run. Our child rolls his eyes at you when you ask him to take out the garbage. Our partner forgets to pick up the groceries we asked for. An employee shows up 20 minutes late to our meeting, Starbucks in hand, with absolutely no concern for the time. TNT runs a Law and Order SVU marathon.
Yet, all of us, not just boxers, need to know this: if you are going to step into the ring, you are going to get hit. For boxers, It’s the nature of the sport. For anyone setting a goal, it’s the nature of taking on anything that is challenging.
The key is that we need to know how to take a hit and have a plan to get back into fighting posture as soon as possible. In fact, we can beat (pun intended) this analogy to death by actually looking at how a boxer takes a punch to get some valuable advice on how to bounce back from the inevitable punches that get thrown at us when we set a goal.
Open your eyes. It’s natural to want to shut your eyes when you see a punch coming, but doing so means you fail to see what is happening next (another punch). Don’t stop stepping on the scale because you went off track on your diet plan.
Keep your balance. Just as getting thrown to the ground in a fight is never a good thing, falling down because of the punch life lands on you isn’t helpful in getting back on track. Stay on your feet.
Establish your ground and defend it with hard counters. Pivot so that you don’t get countered. Fight back to regain control of your goal always keeping in mind that pivoting might be necessary. Remember why you set the goal in the first place and acknowledge when plans change that might require you to move in a different direction for the time being. Maybe timeliness is very important to you, but it would be unkind to reprimand the tardy employee whose child is in the hospital.
Keep your mouth shut. Literally. In boxing fighting with an open mouth leads to broken jaws and teeth. In some cases, when we are thrown off by a punch of life, we tend to say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. No, your son is not always an uncooperative and ungrateful excuse of a human because he rolled his eyes at you.
Don’t always wait for your opponent to finish punching before you start punching back. Interrupt his combos and hit him! If your diet goes off track, punch back. Slipping up by eating one cupcake does not mean you need to also stop at the store on the way home and buy a gallon of ice cream. Just as you don’t wait to throw a punch until your opponent is done hitting you, you don’t have to wait until Monday to start your diet again.
Stay relaxed. This is hard as your lizard brain will want to send you into fight, flight or freeze mode, but keeping all parts of your brain in on the strategy for exiting this fight will help you reason through your dilemma. Yes, your urge might be to scream at your absent minded partner, but will that be good for the long-term health of your relationship? Maybe phoning in for Chinese is a better call?
Roll with the punches. You know that you are going to get hit so by spinning your head or body away from the punch you decrease the damage. You know that you are going have times when your running partner cancels, so if you cannot motivate to go running on your own, at least go for a walk.
Learn the combos. Every boxer knows that a right cross follows a left hook and vice versa. Know that if you get hit with one, you can brace for the other. If you know that sitting and watching Law and Order is likely to increase the chances that you will want a bag of chips, get a plan in place to substitute the chips for a healthy alternative. No sense in letting the second punch land when you know it’s coming and you can prepare to block it.
Watch for the strong punches. A good boxer doesn’t try to block each and every punch coming his way. He knows that there is little point in covering his face for a jab, completely missing the left hook headed straight for his chin. Let go of some of the little things a teenager can do that is irritating to you (like rolling his eyes) in order to achieve the larger goal (his compliance with his responsibility of taking out the garbage).
Take it one punch at a time; one round at a time. It circles back to Tyson’s quote; plans will change as circumstances change. So have plans but keep them flexible because no matter what we think is going to happen or what we plan to have happen, inevitably we are going to get hit.