Mike Tyson, the heavyweight boxer, was quoted as saying, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Regardless of what you may think of him as a boxer or a person, it was a great observation.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about boxing or business, the truth is that we all have a plan for success until we get hit with a setback. Many people will give up after being hit with a failure or an obstacle. And some people will persevere and continue to take a beating. But there are people who will take a step back, correct their course of action, and find a way to succeed.
Let’s talk about what causes people to give up or to persist on a losing course of action, and then discuss what to do in order to reach our goals.
Generally, there are three issues that cause people to either give up or persist with a flawed approach. The first issue has to do with having an attachment to how our goal should be achieved. When we start out to accomplish something, we develop a plan of action. We do this as individuals and companies do it as well. Then, of course, we put our plan of action into motion. And things go well – until they don’t. If or when things don’t go as planned, we choose among three courses of action. Some people will consider the effort (and often themselves) to be a failure and then quit. Other people will continue with their course of action and persist even though they aren’t getting the results they want because, after all, “winners never quit and quitters never win”. And a small number of people will pause, release their attachment to the plan they’ve chosen and make corrections. Giving up on a course of action is not the same as giving up on a goal.
Having a strong attachment to the process with which to achieve a goal often undermines our success.
The second issue contributing to a lack of success has to do with self-doubt and inner conflict. Some people, when faced with the inevitable obstacles which present themselves, begin to doubt themselves, their abilities, and their self-worth. This self-doubt begins to impact how they think and act, eventually causing them to give up.
The same thing happens when a person has an inner conflict around some aspect of their success. They may have a fear of failure or a fear of success. They may have issues around money, harboring negative feelings about having money – even though they set goals to make money. Or they may speak confidently about their ability to succeed, but privately feel that they’re “faking” their abilities.
Regardless of the nature of the inner conflict, the result is the same. Our inner conflict prevails and causes us to either give up or to sabotage our own efforts, causing us to resign ourselves to accepting mediocre results.
Allowing ourselves to be controlled by self-doubt or inner conflict almost always undermines our success.
The third issue that causes people to give up is a lack of passion and resolve. Often people do things because they’re “supposed to”. They do things and set goals because someone tells them they should or because they themselves feel they “should” do it. They pursue goals because it makes sense and is logical. But logic and passion are very different things.
Pursuing a goal because it sounds good or looks like a good opportunity seems smart on the surface. But when a person works towards a goal they don’t really care about, almost any setback will derail them. In contrast, someone pursuing a goal they’re passionate about will find a way to achieve their dream. A passionate person will always do better than someone pursuing a “logical” goal. One of the most famous examples of this principle is the invention of the airplane. Two men (Orville and Wilbur Wright) who were passionate about inventing a flying machine succeeded, where a team of experts (led by Samuel Langley) with all the logic, brainpower and equipment money could buy did not.
When an obstacle presents itself to someone with passion, they persist until they find a way through it, over it, or around it. But when that same obstacle is presented to someone pursuing a goal because it sounded good, they often view the obstacle as a sign that the goal can’t be reached and give up.
Pursuing a goal that sounds good but doesn’t matter to us almost always falls short of expectations.
So how do you succeed after you’ve been “punched in the mouth”?
- Keep your resolve to reach the goal, but release your attachment as to how you’re going to reach that goal. By releasing your attachment to the process and staying flexible, you allow yourself to achieve your goals faster and easier.
- When faced with inner conflict, acknowledge the conflict, find a way to release it, and replace it with a belief that will allow you to succeed. Inner conflicts often define our life, but once we replace them we redefine ourselves.
- There are many, many ways to make money. There’s no need to choose a path you don’t personally care about or enjoy. Spend time reflecting on what matters to you and what you enjoy doing, and then choose a path which embodies both.
By pursuing goals that matter to you, staying flexible as to how to reach those goals, and coming to terms with inner conflicts, any individual or company can weather a “punch in the mouth” and succeed.