Mike Tyson is one of the most notorious athletes ever. His fights were always exciting, sometimes very illegal and the comments that he made before or after the fights were incredibly entertaining. There are plenty of videos out on the internet filled with just his quotes. A large portion of these were violent and absurd.
However, there was a moment when he said something so profound that it would leave most philosophers envious. To paraphrase, that comment was, “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” At first glance, this comment might seem like another random act of vocabulary. But, when you strip away possible knee-jerk reactions towards violent speech, you are left with something deep, profound and symbolic.
“Everyone has got a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. This statement describes everyday life all to well. “I was going to ask my boss for a raise, but once I heard him speak, I caved”, “I was going to tell Becky Sue how I really feel about her, but when I looked in her eyes, I lost my will to speak”, “I was going to do well on the test, but once I sat in that chair, I froze”, etc. What does the boss’ voice, Becky Sue’s eyes and a cold chair have in common? They are the metaphoric “punch in the mouth” that Mike Tyson speaks of.
You can practice and prepare all you want, but until you learn how to take that punch to the mouth, your plans will vanish and you’ll revert back to what is familiar or safe.
This is true when you’re trying to evolve in improv. There are plenty of games that can be performed better when utilizing learned techniques and strategies. But, "the heat of the moment" punches you in the mouth and this strikes you with the urge to perform well. It is at times like these that you have to train your mind to pause a beat and stick to the game plan. Otherwise, you’ll be relying on habits that keep you safe, you’ll inhibit your evolution as a human being and Mike Tyson will probably want to eat your babies.