What Would Mike Tyson Do?

Feelings are enslaved by our emotions, and our emotions are enslaved by our feelings.

Mike Tyson, Joe Rogan Podcast #1532

It is a bit like asking, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”

The quote from Mike Tyson was during a conversation with Joe Rogan, about the importance of emotional intelligence and the lack of but constant search for it today. This may sound strange coming from someone like Mike Tyson, a.k.a Iron Mike. A heavy weight boxing champion, kid from the ghetto, guy with a rap sheet. He is formidable and acutely aware of human nature- seeing it at its extremes, and finding next-level harmony and excellence.


I have become a fan of the sport of boxing and more recently, MMA. In studying it, what I have learned is that its all business in the ring. The focus is on the task in front of them. The cliche, “its not personal, its business,” has never been truer in this instance. No trash talk. Just serenity. And when the match is over, the mindset never shifts – in victory or defeat, you don’t let up on the work and preparation. Discipline.


What fascinates me about Mike Tyson, after listening to him in interviews and watching his matches, is his presence. A man built like a brick, who has charisma that towers over his largest opponent. He’s more than his story – troubled youth turned champion turned jailbird. Taken in by a legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato. Mike learned winning wasn’t just in technique. Salvation from a childhood going nowhere. Now, he had a mentor and father figure guiding him. Tyson studied early conquerors, kings and rulers, watching videos of the boxing greats before him. A comprehensive education in the approach to the ring. The work paid off. Iron Mike was the Heavyweight Champion.


Success doesn’t exist without failure. The lessons matter. Life gives you the education should you choose to study, but even the best students slack sometimes. Fame and hard-partying lifestyle led to lawsuits and charges alleging him of rape, of which Tyson lost and was sent to jail. His mentor passed away, and the iron mindset that enabled him to be a champion, had him scrambling with the emotional roller coaster failure can present.

Formidable is as formidable does.


And so he does. Tyson wasn’t down for the count for long. Along the journey, he found peace within himself. The roller coaster of bad decisions has him recognizing that emotions and feelings can and will paralyze anyone. The path to emotional intelligence is self-awareness and assessment. That is not possible if your life and the decisions you make are ruled by feelings that trigger emotion.


Let’s not pretend that we don’t all have an ego. Why is this such a dirty word? Ego is born and nurtured through our social connections and environment. It is what drives our ambitions and general kindness towards others, as we are not so sociopaths. In excess, narcissism, is a virus to the ego.

Cuss shaped and nurtured Mike’s ego to make him a champion. Tyson’s failures nurtured his humility and in truth, found a man never looking back, only forward. Watching interviews of him, people also ask him about his past, and yet Mike only focuses on the now. Today, Tyson has the appreciation of family and faith to ground him as he gets back into the ring, into the business of cannabis and raises children with love and values that he lacked as a child.

There is a Phoenix in all of us. Every time I find myself steeped in emotion, I ask “What would Mike Tyson do?” and I know the answer.

Get his book, The Undisputed Truth, here.

What I am listening to: Joe Rogan podcast episode 1532

I'm a writer and a lover not a fighter, except if I really want something.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: