The headline of this email was a quote from boxing legend Mike Tyson. At the height of his career, he was the most dominating boxer the world had ever saw…
Until he wasn’t.
He got cocky, stopped training hard, and in a championship fight against Buster Douglas he got punched in the mouth, a lot.
After Douglas defeated him, he was never quite the same. Other opponents — who used to be deathly afraid of him — now realized they could beat him.
Tyson let his arrogance get out of control — both in the ring during fights and outside of the ring — and lost the drive, tenacity, and practice that got him to the top.
He handled success quite well — I mean, who could handle making $400 million poorly (at least from a contentment point of view — but the minute his master plan went awry, he wasn’t able to recover.
If you watch him in interviews now, he’s very humble. That’s what defeat does to you. And he’s not humble in a defeated way, rather he realized the error of his old ways and seems to be in a place where he doesn’t take the good for granted anymore.
What does this story have to do with me and you?
You can draw parallels to your own life through his story and with the sentiment of ‘getting punched in the mouth’ in general.
Will You Get Up From the Canvas?
We all have our plans for the future, dreams, desires, and goals, but what do we do when life throws us a curve ball?
It’s easy to be positive when everything in your life is going well, but a storm is always looming, regardless of how successful your life is or isn’t.
I used to believe that life was supposed to be good, like it was owed to me. I don’t feel that way anymore.
I’m not a pessimist — far from it — but I’ve accepted the fact that no matter how much I plan, something bad will inevitably happen.
I can’t speak to exactly what I’ll do when a storm hits, because storms are unpredictable, but I try to remind myself as often as possible that bouncing back after those moments matter most.
I don’t know the meaning of life, I don’t have all of the keys to success, and I don’t know how your life is going to turn out.
I don’t even know how my life is going to turn out.
I do know that I want to live a good life, and I’ve seen enough examples of people finding meaning in tough moments to believe it’s a key trait in living that good life.
Stop expecting to win handily. Train hard and learn how to bob and weave. Know that even with hard work, life will throw a haymaker.
Get off of canvas when it does, and finish the round.
Don’t do it just because you want to win. Do it for a more important reason.
My New Philosophy on Winning and Losing
You want to win. I want to win. We all want to win.
Everybody has a different level of competitiveness, but nobody likes being a loser, no matter how much participation trophy culture tries to convince you otherwise.
We compare ourselves with other people. We compare ourselves with our past and future selves to see how we’re growing — and we hate moving backward.
Deep down, we all believe in that mythical future where we find the ‘ultimate win’ and we can be done with the struggle. Even though my life is quite good, I still imagine this magical future too.
But lately my mindset has shifted towards genuinely wanting to increase my ability to take a punch. I want a ‘good chin.’
When you’ve failed a few times before (which I definitely have) and keep going anyway, you start to realize that failure isn’t the end of the world. You still don’t want to fail. Failing still sucks. But eventually you start to pride yourself on the ability to overcome it.
There’s something deeply satisfying about trying to achieve mental mastery, control your emotions, and persist through tedium, obstacles, and long range plans.
It’s like when you went to the gym just so you could look good naked, then you get excited to put on more weight each day. Weight creates stress, but it’s the type of stress you come to look forward to because you know it will make you stronger. And you begin to care more about being in shape than looking like your in shape.
I still want more and more of the trappings of success because I’m a human being. But flexing my creativity and resiliency muscles has become a fun journey in and of itself.
You’ll come to find that, too, if you start making a real commitment to facing your fear, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and climbing the Mt.Everest that is trying to control your thoughts.
Getting to that point takes a lot of work. A lot more work than one blog post can teach you how to do. But read this one, act on it, read another, act on that, read a few dozen and act on those — all the sudden you’re a different person.
What are you going to do today to have your ‘all the sudden’ moment?
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Originally published at medium.com