A Punch in the Face


“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson

I like to make plans and help others do the same. As comforting as it is for me to know how I will make it from point A to point B, it’s equally frustrating when others don’t. It’s easy to feel like my way is right and somehow they are doing it wrong.

Success is often granted to those who complete their plans. It is awarded with a diploma, a medal, a wedding ring, salary with benefits, good health, or for a boxer, a title-belt. I imagine most boxers feel pretty accomplished while training when the environment is controlled. Even unexpected punches are not intending harm. I imagine these athletes feel pretty good about their skills—that is, until they step in the ring and get punched in the face.

For a while in my life, I felt pretty good about my ability to plan for successful outcomes. But then came a series of punches. Ironically it wasn’t the expected punches of personal sickness or death of family that hit hardest. I was left reeling when the plans I made for others, the hopes and dreams I had for them, were dashed. At first I diagnosed their failure, bitterly thinking, “Why couldn’t they stick to the plan?” I frantically tried to take control, make a new plan, re-calibrate—all to no avail. From my perspective things looked dark and were getting darker.

But then came a speck of light in a paradigm shifting thought: Maybe they’ve been punched in the face a little more than me; maybe I need to learn something from them.