“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
I was recently reminded of this line by the former heavyweight champ and impressed by its plain-spoken wisdom. Soon after, I came across a similar message in the movie, The Shape of Water, “life is just the shipwreck of our plans.”
These words speak to our human experiences. We dream and hope, plan and prepare … then along comes something dark and unforeseen and we’re left devastated. Tragedy, illness, broken relationships, accidents, addictions, mental health struggles, physical violence, mental abuse, loss of employment, financial stress. Things we are sometimes born with, or that happen to us or our loved ones along the way.
Over my 25 years in law, I have worked with thousands of clients dealing with their personal shipwrecks, struggling to stay afloat.
Who are these bad people who do these awful things? Well, I don’t quite see it that way. They are just human, mostly decent people with goodness in them, but struggling and making mistakes, likely going back to absorbing several of life’s Tyson calibre punches in their lifetime.
As a criminal defence lawyer, we love winning the case, proving our client was not guilty. But, often my favourite cases are the ones that resolve with the clients emerging as better people and in a healthier frame of mind. Those who benefit from meaningful counselling, mediation, community service, working hard to make reparations or just taking the time to come to terms with the past and ponder the future. We use the experience of being charged by the police and going through the court system as the “rock bottom” moment and seek to “rise up” from it. It is always darkest just before the dawn.
Nothing better than when a client shakes my hand upon the case’s successful conclusion, “thanks for everything, and I promise I’ll never need to see you again!” Not great for business, but good for the soul. Over the years, I’ve come to see my role as helping lift my clients rise up, dust themselves off and prepare to get back into the fight of life.
Mike Tyson boastfully spoke these “everyone has a plan” words when told that his upcoming opponent, Evander Holyfield, had a plan to beat him. But ironically, Holyfield did execute his plan, dominating the early rounds of their match. And Tyson’s response? He bit half of Holyfield’s ear off, was disqualified and ruined for years. Clearly, Mike Tyson needed a better lawyer at that critical time!