Mike Tyson isn’t just the youngest heavyweight champion in history, he was also the most devastating fighter this planet has ever seen. He was a brute among brutes, a man that made the toughest of men fear him. He made guys that got hit for a living, afraid of being hit. How did he do it? He was born into what seemed to be the worst of circumstances for any kid, and then grabbed the one opportunity that life gave him as a youth and working ridiculously hard for it. Which is why everyone in the world knows his name and his story.
Having achieved all life has to offer, losing it all, and then getting right back, Mike Tyson knows a thing or two about life. He’s often praised for his fighting ability but one of his most underrated talents, is his wisdom and a genius way of looking at life. His philosophies can go toe to toe with likes of Aristotle, Seneca or Marcus Aurelius. Combine his gritty work ethic and unique brain, here is some Mike Tyson wisdom that will help you crush it in life.
“Discipline is doing what you hate doing, but doing it like you love it.”
Mike has a unique view on discipline. Many self-help gurus will tell you that you have to “do what you love” and that if you find your passion “you will never have to work a day in your life.” Well Mike is proof that it’s all nonsense and its bad for you. Mike Tyson found passion in progressing his craft and as much as he loved the sport and desired to rank among the greats, he also had a disdain for the monotony.
Many fighters agree that training gets boring after having to rigorously follow the same, grueling routine, day after day. Early on, Mike Tyson’s schedule was full of training all day followed by studying fights. Having to fight weekly and monthly he was in shape year-round. What he considered out of shape was still a notch above other fighters best.
Mike proves that doing the same thing every day and expecting different results isn’t insanity, it’s progress. He was quoted saying that many people say they want to be in his shoes but “if they were in my shoes they would cry like babies.” That’s because it took boring old discipline to get him to be the powerhouse that he is today. Eventually your passion will fizzle out, and that’s where discipline takes over to keep you going.
“Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”
Perhaps one of the most famous Mike Tyson quotes, this quote describes life as much as it does fighting. Most fighters come in to every fight with a strategy on how to take out an opponent. Many of Mike Tyson’s opponents had such strategies. They were going to “walk him down” or “out box him” by “flicking the jab and using our speed…” and then they got hit. Once their jab was countered and that right hand rocked them, their plan was rendered useless because they were rigid in their strategy.
This happens to most of us in life because when we plan, we assume things are going to go according to plan. Then when the proverbial punch in the mouth comes, we’re left in a desperate depression scrambling for yet another plan. As if we didn’t learn our lesson the first time. Of course, it’s important to have goals, the last thing you should do is move through life aimlessly. However, we need to leave enough breathing room in those plans for the unexpected. Better yet, instead of building a strategy to survive 12 rounds, demolish your goals the way Mike did his opponents. Don’t plan a time, give it one hundred percent with bad intentions behind every “punch.” You may be surprised to find out something you thought would take 12 rounds, only took half of the first.
“One of my friends once saw another guy’s (criminal) record and said, ‘Look, this guy is a born troublemaker, just a loser.’ I had to tell him, ‘No, that’s my record—and it doesn’t include my juvenile history.”
One of the most thought provoking things that Mike Tyson has ever said. It opens the eyes of those that grew up living a normal life and were handed opportunities as well as the eyes of those of us that weren’t. Mike Tyson is the perfect example of “where you start is not where you finish.” Mike didn’t have a lot of opportunities growing up. He couldn’t go to school because bullies made life hell for him and that turned into a life of running with gangs, robbing and selling drugs, at the tender age of 10. Consumed in that lifestyle, Mike was in and out of juvenile jail, which ironically is what led him to meet the world famous Cus D’Amato. He was given one opportunity, and he did everything in his power to take advantage of it.
Sometimes all it takes is that one opportunity to turn our lives around. Don’t ever let your background be the deciding factor of where you end up, and if given the opportunity to change course, take advantage of it. On the other hand, if you are in the position to provide an opportunity, look deeper than someone’s background to make your decision.
Another lesson this teaches you is to not judge, yourself or others. You will hear many people talk about “what it takes” in life and its usually just a few character traits dropped into annoyingly cliche silos. If you’re unlike anyone you admire, its completely okay. Blaze your own path and let those who are like you know its possible even if you do things differently. A lot of the bad things that came from Mike’s extreme personality were also responsible for the amazing things in his life. In his biography when his friend asked him why he doesn’t seek “professional help” to get “fixed,” he responded by saying(paraphrasing) “I’m afraid I won’t be Mike Tyson.”
“You can’t be disturbed by anything. There’s no emotion involved. You can’t feel sorrow, you can’t feel pity, there’s nothing you feel. The job has to be done.”
A lot of times we can get caught up in how we feel about situations and dwell on those feelings. The reality of the situation is most of the time we must proceed with action regardless. The only thing being accomplished with feelings is the draining of energy and time that can be used productively. Mike was no stranger to the roller coaster of life, yet always found his way back to the gym to compete at the highest level. From divorces, to lawsuits, to 3 years of prison time for a crime he didn’t commit, Mike always bounced back from all the turmoil in his personal life.
This also ties in perfectly with Mike’s quote about discipline. A lot of people spend too much time getting motivated and getting inspired, which leaves very little time for actual work to be done. Jerry West was famous for saying “”You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” This is a harsh truth that just about everyone who is trying to crush it needs to hear. You won’t feel inspired every day, and it’s those other days that count the most.
“We want to believe that we’re different than the average guy that’s working 9-to-5, that our thoughts are different than his. Our inspirations and desires are different than his, that’s why we succeed and he didn’t because we want to believe we’re different, but he just didn’t get the break that we had, or he wasted it on something else.”
Coming from someone as high up the ladder of society as Mike Tyson, it is refreshing to hear these words. The biggest thing in your world is probably your ego. Whether you know it or not but it runs your life daily. Your decision making, your thoughts and especially your relationship with others. If you’ve achieved a measure of success in your life, it is important to realize that luck and opportunity had as much to do with it as you did. When someone isn’t where you are it by no means makes them inferior or inadequate, which is why you should never underestimate someone’s ability due to their current position. Whether it’s your opponent in the ring, or an employee you want to hire, keep an open mind when evaluating their track record.
On the other hand, if you’re still trying to achieve your idea of success, don’t get down about others that have what you want. We are all offered different opportunities at different points in our life. Keep your eyes open for yours and when it comes don’t squander it. Mike has seen every spectrum of life that life in the modern world has to offer, and through it all he ended up with the conclusion that being humble is the key to sustained inner peace. That’s something that we can all learn from Mike.
Thank You Mike
For me personally, Mike Tyson was the first person I ever looked up to. At a very young age I became a huge fan of Mike and as I got older I realized that what he was in boxing, I wanted to be in whatever profession I pursued. He exuded excellence and even in his losses, you knew that the only reason he was on the other end of the winning side is because he didn’t dedicate himself to that moment. However, when Mike was focused, he was the epitome of mastery, a truly unstoppable force, and in my eyes, the greatest pound for pound fighter of all time. He continues to be a daily inspiration in my journey as an entrepreneur and I often borrow from his wisdom in different situations, and for that, thank you Mike.
Are you a fan of Mike Tyson? Share some of your favorite Mike Tyson Wisdom in the comment section below.
If you’re interested in reading more about Mike’s story, checkout his autobiography “Undisputed Truth” which, in my personal opinion, was one of the best autobiographies ever written. You can purchase the paperback or the kindle version below.
I’m Sean Dudayev, and this was my Tantrum.