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  • Writer's pictureRich Honiball

Everyone Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth: The Punchline

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." – Mike Tyson

Yes, I was having one of those days. 

A couple of weeks ago, the best-laid plans on Saturday turned ugly on Sunday when we realized there was more to do than we had expected. Yes, I am talking about my daughter’s homework, and yes, the hurdle became even more daunting as we dug deeper. It felt like getting punched in the mouth.

Recalling the quote later, I searched for an image to accompany this eventual post. Plenty of pictures of Mike Tyson standing over a fallen warrior. Then I read the story behind the quote and realized I had missed the punchline (you see what I did there, right?).

Tyson was responded to a reporter’s question as to whether or not he was prepared to fight Evander Holyfield, who was known for putting together a strategic fight plan. Tyson, a “bruiser” responded “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” in a dismissive way, basically saying, plan all you want, when I punch you, you’ll go down. Holyfield was knocked off course by Tyson’s bruising punches, but because he had a plan to start with, he was able to react and modify it, and against 15/2 odds, he won the fight by TKO in the 11th round. 

Huh. Not what I had expected.

It took us a couple of days, but we gained some ground, setting aside what we had originally planned to do. Like eat. Sleep. Yes, ok, I am exaggerating just a little bit, but if you are parent and have faced “The Wall” of homework (a little Game of Thrones reference there), you know what I mean.

We did go into the weekend with a plan, we just realized midway through that we did not have all of the information that we needed. As a result, we hadn’t mapped out our time as well as we should have. So, when we got the sucker punch, we hit the canvas. Hard. The learning for our daughter, and for us, is to try and surface as much of the information needed up front, and to plan out our time more productively and efficiently. How have we done over the last couple of weeks? Progress, not perfection, but we keep pushing forward.

It isn’t easy. I can talk to the 15 year old about the importance of time management and the pre-planning necessary to get the job done, then as a 51 year old go to work and make the same mistakes, reacting to the latest crisis or fire drill, not investing in time management and pre-planning. The irony, the less we plan, the more fires we eventually have. So, I am taking a dose of my own advice!

We will get there. I just keep thinking of this quote from The Art of War:

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first then seek to win” - Sun Tzu

I hope you “plan” to have a good day…and if you see Mike Tyson coming, DUCK!


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