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  • James McNeil

What Mike Tyson, Winston Churchill, and Robin Hood can teach us about overcoming obstacles

Mike Tyson is not known for his quotes, but he has one that captured my attention. I admit I had heard another version of the quote until I looked it up for its veracity, so here’s the original Tyson quote. “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.”


While this may sound completely counterintuitive to an author whose mission is to help people overcome obstacles like this, the quote spoke to me for a completely different reason. The more I looked at it, the more I started wondering about something.

Why aren’t we planning to get hit?

Now bear with me. I know that sounds crazy, but there’s a point to the question. Imagine yourself entering a boxing match with Tyson (or literally any other well-known professional boxer). You’ve trained for years to be ready to step in the ring. You’ve got your trunks, your shoes, your gloves, and your routine. Would you honestly expect to not get hit? Do you think your professional opponent is going to stand there and let you punch him like a giant punching bag?

Of course not. He’s going to hit back. And it’s likely going to hurt. A lot. One of Tyson’s earlier trainers said that he punched with “bad intentions” so you know a punch from Tyson will hurt. So why would any professional boxer let that take them by surprise? Why wouldn’t we plan for it?

It is here that I can transition this from the boxing ring to your life. You’re probably not training to be a boxer, and you’re probably not expecting to face a powerhouse like Tyson in the ring. But you are facing a challenge. If you’ve ever dealt with suicidal thoughts especially, you’re facing a huge challenge.

In the book, Finding Your Personal Mission, you can find strategies to help you overcome the obstacles that lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations. You can find ways to transform your mind to overcome these, but you need to understand something. Somewhere along the way, these obstacles will fight back.

You will metaphorically get hit, and it’s going to hurt. If you’re expecting smooth sailing, this could completely derail your attempts to transform your mind and overcome these obstacles. However, if you plan for these hits to come and know that it’s not going to be smooth sailing, you’re not planning to fail; you’re planning for the step after you’ve stumbled. You’re giving yourself the courage to continue after you fail. And as Winston Churchill stated, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

You will face stumbles on your road to putting suicidal thoughts and ideations in the rear-view mirror. You will fall, and it will hurt. You will miss your shot, and you will fail. But just like Robin of Loxley in the Mel Brooks classic Robin Hood, Men in Tights excitedly exclaimed, “I get another shot!”

So do you.

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