“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” Mike Tyson
TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about strategy setbacks. We all have to soothe the bumps, bruises, blisters and burns associated with negotiating the often rocky landscape of our evolving strategies on the way to successful solutions.
But what happens when you hit a wall with your strategy? Or as Mike Tyson aptly summarizes – what happens when you and your plan get punched in the mouth? As much as your strategy may be well-being, it’s at this point that we must clarify core principles to break through.
What do you do when your best laid plans, your carefully tailored approach, your curated strategy stall? I have found 3 approaches to help navigate these difficult times.
1. Realize and accept that you will eventually get punched in the mouth. It will happen sooner than you think. It will happen multiple times. “Any time you think you have the game conquered, the game will turn around and punch you right in the nose” (Mike Schmidt). Denial of this truism will cause you to hold faulty strategies and you will fail to see the emerging landscape. Don’t bother with the padding…
2. When you get hit, be receptive and flexible. This is counter-intuitive because the first reaction is to get defensive. The ability to be receptive allows you to discover what details you missed. Then, flexibility allows you to adapt your strategy to the new conditions. Being flexible does not mean quitting on your plan. “Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick” (Bruce Lee). Be open and receptive but remain committed. This is counter-intuitive but is of immense advantage.
3. The ability to take a punch is good, but the ability to avoid one is best. Your ability to navigate assaults is a defining property of your defensive strategic framework. “In the battle of existence, talent is the punch; tact is the clever footwork” (Wilson Mizner). Your strategy is your footwork – it will provide you with the needed defence for when you under duress, and it will allow you to counter when an opening occurs.
In chemistry, a transition state is a temporary high-energy configuration existing between two stable forms. The transition state corresponds to the highest potential energy along a reaction path. It is often violent and tumultuous but the potential energy allows for the formation of new stable forms. Think of these periods of your life – times of setbacks and shock – as transition states and look for ways to harness the potential energy to form an improved baseline.
MEDICINE & MACULA: Check out our most recent publication, Retinal Injury Secondary to Laser Pointers in Paediatric Patients. Our study describes children who had laser-related retinal injury to the macula due to the mishandling of the laser pointer devices.
Thank you Pediatrics for publishing our study! Check out the study here.
GRATIS: There is no shame in taking a punch, and there is much character growth in our ability to transition into an improved form during the difficult transition states. However, there may be times where you find yourself constantly under assault. If this occurs, you may have to punch back. Unfortunately, this is the only currency some understand.
“You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it’s good for one’s self-respect to be a punching bag.” Ed Koch
My best to you,