I'm no boxing fan, but I've always loved this quote from Mike Tyson:

Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.

I was thinking about that in connection with a conversation I had with Tim Grover, who worked for over a decade as Michael Jordan's personal trainer. (The 6-time NBA champion, not the actor).

"There's not a single individual I've ever met, outside of the field of professional bodybuilding, who doesn't fall off the wagon on their diet," Grover said. "But how long are you staying off the wagon? Do you bounce right back on? Or does a cheat meal turn into a cheat day? Does a cheat day turn into a cheat week, or a cheat month?"

The more I thought about this, the more I realized how many areas of life this applies to.

Like, what if you're trying to:

  • Build a business, write a book, or finish a project...and someone calls your work trash?
  • Teach yourself how to sketch, or code, or do anything else...and you run into a wall?
  • Quit sugar, smoking, or another addiction...and you fall off the wagon?

Regardless of your situation, often when we get "punched in the mouth," we play mind games with ourselves.

We say something like:

Oh well. Since I fell, I might as well just stay down here and enjoy it. I mean, if I'm going to go down, go down for the count, right?

Obviously, that mentality is self-defeating.

But you can combat that mentality by using your emotional intelligence--the ability to understand and manage the emotions that could otherwise be holding you back.

So, what should you do if you get punched in the mouth?

You get back up.

Sometimes you'll manage to spring right back to your feet. Other times, it'll take a day or two.

But it's not staying down for the count. It's not throwing a pity party for yourself, or getting swallowed up by negative feelings.

Instead, it's reminding yourself that this too will pass. That you're a survivor, and you're not going to give up.

Take action.

Go somewhere; change the scenery. If you've run into a wall, take a break and do something else. If someone's hurt you with their words or actions, walk away.

If you're facing temptation, run away.

And if you need help, go and get it.

Reflect and learn.

Once you've been knocked down, you have a choice.

You can:

  • leave yourself open for another hit; or,
  • analyze what happened, and try to figure out how to protect yourself.

Use the following questions to help you learn from the situation:

1. What led up to the "punch in the mouth"?

2. Was I caught off guard? Did I walk into a bad situation? Or was something building up to this for some time?

3. What would I do differently if I could change something?

4. Most importantly, what can I do now to help me move forward?

Write down what you learn in a journal, and try to make adjustments to reduce the number of times you get "punched."

Because everyone gets punched in the mouth.

The difference between winning and losing in life is...

The losers stay down. The winners get back up.

(If you enjoy the lessons in this article, be sure to sign up for my free emotional intelligence course, where each day for 10 days you get a similar rule designed to help you make emotions work for you, instead of against you.)