If Mike Tyson Can Change, Anyone Can. Here's How Daily Affirmations, Confidence and Humility Transformed the Boxing Icon
Tyson opens up about his new cannabis startup, the importance of confidence and the power of affirmations.
Mike Tyson is a boxer, entrepreneur, podcaster and pop-culture icon who became the youngest heavyweight champion in history, at age 20, and the only heavyweight to hold and unify the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in succession.
Described as the “most ferocious fighter to have ever stepped into a ring,” Tyson won 16 of his first 28 professional bouts via first-round knockout. He’s been the subject of public fascination, then controversy, and now esteem, ever since.
Unlike most entrepreneurs, Tyson was an expert in the hurt business. His uncanny ability to administer pain inside a boxing ring made him a global superstar, even after he began to inflict punishment on himself.
It’s what makes his evolution so remarkable. If Tyson can change, anyone can. "You know how many people from Brownsville think they can't do this stuff? I have to give them the belief that they can," Tyson told me.
Last fall, Tyson stepped back into a boxing ring for the first time in 15 years for an exhibition against fellow boxing great Roy Jones Jr. Now, Tyson has re-entered the world of commercial cannabis in partnership with Columbia Care for the launch of Tyson 2.0, his new cannabis brand.
I had the privilege to speak with Tyson about Tyson 2.0, hear about his passion for cannabis, learn about his leadership style and hear about the role confidence and affirmations have played in his success. Watch or read on to learn more.
Tyson’s childhood was traumatic. He began robbing and fighting kids — and their parents — on the streets by the age of 12, and when he wasn’t on the streets, he was in and out of prison.
In spite of this, after his fateful introduction to boxing legend Constantine "Cus" D'Amato, Tyson knew he’d become heavyweight champion of the world one day. He met D’Amato when he was 14 years old and accomplished his goal of becoming heavyweight champion by age 20.
Tyson credits this extraordinary feat in part to daily affirmations, a practice taught to him by D’Amato. “I believe in developing confidence through the Emile Coue system. Coue is the father of affirmations. Cus read him a lot,” Tyson says.
Pioneered by French psychologist Emile Coue in the early 20th century, affirmations are statements you say to yourself to overcome self-sabotaging, limiting or negative beliefs.
The practice has been shown to facilitate learning, improve sports performance and boost confidence. And confidence, Tyson says, is essential if you want to succeed in life.
“I’m a strong believer that confidence breeds success and success brings confidence. And if you use confidence and apply it correctly, [you] will supersede a genius. There’s nothing more powerful than confidence.”
Chad Bronstein has the unique privilege of being the Tyson 2.0 chairman and co-founder alongside Tyson, so I asked him what his biggest takeaway has been working with him every day. His answer might surprise you if you haven’t been following Iron Mike over the years.
“For me, it's Mike's humility,” Bronstein said. “Everyone knows who Mike is. He's a legend, [but] he doesn’t act that way. I've learned how real Mike is. I think that is one of the few things that separates the greats of the moment from the greats of all time. When they have that humility, where they can empathize, relate and have that presence of mind to recognize they're infallible, just like everyone else.”
Entrepreneurs love to talk about capital. But the kind I hear the least about is PsyCap, or psychological capital, which is just as — if not more — important. PsyCap is defined by Oxford as "efficacy, optimism, hope and resilience" amongst your team.
Practicing humility as a leader is one of the best ways to foster it. Leader humility, when sincere, promotes healthier interactions in the workplace, and creates an environment where peers and subordinates feel more appreciated for their contributions.
Although humility isn’t as practical a takeaway as daily affirmations, and isn’t as obvious a takeaway as self-confidence, it's essential, and it can be learned. If Tyson can practice it, so can you.
Find your medicine
I’ve suffered from ADHD my entire life. I appreciate the optimism some have about it, but my personal experience has shown the disorder is not a “superpower.” It’s debilitating.
Stimulant medication has proven to be the most effective treatment, and my experience aligns with the research outcomes. But cannabis, like most issues concerning mental health, carry a stigma. This stigma is why potential beneficiaries avoid or delay seeking treatment.
But Tyson has no qualms about speaking his truth — he always has and always will — especially about cannabis, and how his regular usage has changed his life. His regular use of the drug has played a big part in his evolution, and it’s why he’s so passionate about it.
“I haven’t been to jail. I haven't been in an argument. [You] haven’t read about me doing anything... and that was every day before the medicine. I just can’t believe who I am right now. I talk to my wife about it all the time,” Tyson says. “It’s a trip that I’m not the bully I once was.”
“I want the people who knew me in the past to see me now, to see the proof of the medicine. Once you take [it], you look at yourself differently, you look at humanity differently, and you know you’re here to add to humanity before you leave this earth.”
"I'm not here to be no big shot. I'm here to inform people like myself that we have a product that can prevent us from being our old selves — self-destructive, masochist, whatever it is — and in my experience, this is what prevents me from being in that state of mind."
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor