Everyone likes a good sports movie.
Whether it’s Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, or Raging Bull. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series is in a category all its own. Set to reprise his role for the seventh time, Stallone still had some staying power.
There is something about the Rocky franchise. The movies run the Gamut from instant classics, best picture winners, bombs and back again. But how many movie characters have their own statue?
The guy went into hostile Soviet Russia and left with the fans chanting his name. If he can turn the Russians during the height of the Cold War then he has the ability to inspire anyone, just see for yourself.
“Life ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can GET hit and keep moving forward”
The sixth movie in the series: Rocky Balboa is way better than it deserves to be. Following the law of diminishing returns of Rocky V expectations should have been. Having said that – even if the movie was lousy it would have been worth the price of admission alone for this speech.
Everyone faces adversity – no one is handed anything in this world. Those who make excuses are cast aside by their own attitudes. Those who make it are the ones who can take the punches, take the rejections, take the doubts and keep trying, regardless. Ten times, twenty times, fifty times. When you count it all up, with Rocky’s fighting style (or lack thereof) he took far more punches than he threw. But he kept moving forward.
“I see three of them out there”
“Hit the one in the middle.”
Already reeling after the first round of his fight against the much stronger Ivan Drago – Rocky eyes start to play tricks on him. He’s unaware of the simple solution until Paulie tells him which of the three to hit.
Unconventional? Yes. Against doctors’ orders? Definitely. But an effective strategy. Sometimes when we’re down of behind or facing an insurmountable task, we can make things more complicated than we need to. Sometimes we panic. So we need others, that outside perspective to calm and simplify. Because when you think you’re defeated, they can show you that you’re not.
“You know a lot of people come to Vegas to lose – I didn’t”
Attitude is everything. If you go into a situation expecting to lose – chances are you will lose.
Thinking you might be able to win is one thing. Knowingthat you can win is a whole other animal.
“Why do you want to fight?”
“Because I can’t sing or dance”
Rocky may not have been brought into the world to be a boxer but he found something he was good at and something he loved. You may not be a pro athlete or achieve fame or whatever it is you wanted to be when you were younger – but you can be the best at what you do.
“Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I wasn’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”
For his fight against the World Champion, all Rocky wanted to do is last. To make it to the final bell. 15-0, or whatever the score would have been, didn't matter.
It is up to you to set your own goals and define your own success. Just because it’s something no one else has ever done, doesn’t make it impossible. What are your goals? Is it your bank account? Is it your happiness? Is it employing others or creating something new? The definition, like it was for Rocky, is different for every person. Some people want to win the fight but Rocky just wants to survive and go the distance.
Rocky doesn’t say “So people will see” or “so everyone will know,” he says “I’m gonna know for the first time in my life that I wasn’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”
The only person he has anything to prove to is himself.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.”
Okay, back to this speech. When s*** doesn’t go your way, how do you react? Rocky’s son chose to lay down and let his situation (famous father – high expectations) dictate his outcome. The tough survive, the good die young and those who allow themselves to get stepped on will get stepped on.
Accept the meanness and the cruelty in the World, because all that matters is how you react to them. Don’t wish things were different. Shake it off and do not get down and if you do get down (it happens), do not stay down. Get back up.
“I’m going to tell you something straight from the heart, Paulie, and I mean this – you ain’t down and you ain’t a loser. You just a jealous, lazy bum.”
Rocky’s brother-in-law has a lot to say, none of it worth listening to. He’s mad at the world – Rock knows better than to listen to any of it – and instead puts Paulie in his place.
This is “haters gonna hate” brought to a new level. While there’s a lot of great places to get information and honest feedback out there, there’s also a lot of noise and one needs to be able to separate the real advice and input from the jealous or the bitter ones. You can either put them in their place or pay them no mind.
“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”
Sticking it out when you think you no longer can. Shutting out the voice in the back of your head that says “quit” when you are fatigued – physically or mentally – will put you miles ahead of the competition. Think about what putting an extra 15, 20, 30 minutes of your day into your passion can do. How that time adds up in a month or a year. Each time it makes a difference, you will not notice it right away but it will reveal itself to you over time.
“Until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”
Speaks for itself.
“You’re gonna have to go through hell, worse than any nightmare you’ve ever dreamed. But when it’s over, I know you’ll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it. Do it!”
The above quote isn’t spoken by Rocky, but by his trainer Duke. Which shows a couple of things:
Go through hell and find out what’s on the other side.
“You see, fear is a fighter’s best friend. You know, but it ain’t nothing to be ashamed of. See, fear keeps you sharp, it keeps you awake, you know, it makes you want to survive. You know what I mean? But the thing is, you gotta learn how to control it. All right? ‘Cause fear is like this fire, all right? And it’s burning deep inside. Now, if you control it, Tommy, it’s gonna make you hot. But, you see, if this thing here, it controls you, it’s gonna burn you and everything else around you up. That’s right, you know?”
Rocky was never the most succinct or eloquent speaker, nor is Rocky V the best movie in the series but the point here is valid. If you’ve never seen the movie, don’t rush out based on this quote.
Fear. There’s fight, and there’s flight, and then there’s a deer in the headlights. In fighting and in life, one needs to channel their fears as they can make you great or they can make you cower in a corner. Do not ignore your fears, use them to motivate, but use them positively.
“All we can do is just go with what we are.”
Rocky didn’t have the speed or skill of Apollo Creed, the cockiness of Clubber Lang nor the strength of Ivan Drago. He wasn’t going to beat them at their own game.
You need to be what you are. You are different than those around you and you need to take what makes you unique, what makes you different than your co-workers or your competition and make it your biggest strength.
“See this guy here? That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face. I believe that’s true in the ring and I believe that’s true in life.”
As Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, looks in the mirror Rocky lets him know who his real opponent is. Not the man across the ring from him for any given fight – but Adonis himself. You can be your own best friend and your worst enemy. That’s the thesis statement throughout the Rocky series, you are your biggest opponent whether you know it or not. The power and ability to succeed (or fail) is all within you.
“No, maybe I can’t win, maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he’s got. But to beat me, he’s gonna have to kill me, and to kill me, he’s gonna have to have the heart to stand in front of me, and to do that, he’s gotta be willing to die himself and I don’t know if he’s ready to do that.”
As his opponents, came to find out you basically have to kill Rocky to beat him. He’s got a thick head both literally and figuratively.
You give your all for what you believe in. Whether it is ignorance or stubbornness, it’s also effective. Believe in your cause and in yourself and no one will be able to stop you.
“Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.”
Truth. *Drops the mic.*
This was 95% about passing on inspiration and the other 5% was an excuse to re-watch all the Rocky movies.
Whatever you want in this life, do not give up. Keep fighting. Keep moving forward, keep believing, keep standing back up.
So you can sit back one day and look around and say
“Yo, Adrian, we did it.”
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November 11, 2019