Support systems, fears and why you should keep punching

Rocky is a timeless film treasure we all have seen or at least heard of. This cinematic gift has been the source of motivation for people of all ages, all over the world! Before I was even on this earth, Sylvester Stallone’s film had affected my life. My Dad went to see the film in 1976 and afterwards, dedicated himself to fitness. Dad and I still work out together every Saturday. He’s been enhancing the lives of many as a personal trainer, all the while still working in our family real estate business. Our Saturday mornings are filled with quotes from every Rocky movie you can imagine. We laugh and repeat the same scenes over and over again and encourage each other through each workout. Looking back, some of those themes kept me going in life. Watch this clip for one of my favorite moments from the Rocky sequels.

As we dig into these, I wanted to focus on the original Rocky film, which actually won 3 Academy Awards and was nominated for 9. Rocky is a “David vs. Goliath” story about a boxer living in Philadelphia who is at the tail end of his career. The main protagonist, Rocky Balboa, is a working-class, blue collar guy who is just getting by in life. Often times, he’ll serve as the “heavy”, working for the local mob on collections issues. Rocky’s demeanor is tough as nails, but there’s a lot going on internally with this character.

On the other side, there’s Apollo Creed, heavy weight champion of the world. He’s at the top of his career and life couldn’t be better. Apollo’s next opponent ends up getting injured, so Creeds team needs to find a replacement asap. It just so happens that they decide to give a normal average everyday fighter the chance of a lifetime: the chance to fight Apollo Creed in an exhibition fight in front of the entire country. They hand-picked a fighter from Philly and Rocky has his chance to shock the world.

1. CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY: For the most part, everybody in town just thought Rocky was a bum. After all, he was pretty old in age for a boxer and served as nothing more than an enforcer for the local mob. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Most likely they have never done what you are planning to do. One’s pursuit of success can bring out the worst in others, because often times, it shines light on their own insecurities, fear and regrets. The good news is, there are people who will support you. Rocky surrounded himself with those who believed in him. His trainer, Mickey, was tough but pushed him beyond his limits. Adrian, the girlfriend, was Balboa’s rock. He leaned on her throughout the movie series and she was his voice of reason. The question is, who’s in your fan club? Who’s been there before? Who is going to push you to be better? Surround yourself with those people and keep the rest at a discretionary arms-length.

2. RUN TOWARDS YOUR FEAR: The night before the fight, Rocky could not sleep so he took a stroll down towards the arena and walked around the ring. It was a lot to take in. The ultimate challenge was here, staring him right in the face. After a couple of hours, he ended up crawling back in bed curled up next to Adrian, feeling afraid and fearful. That fear he felt was a good thing. He explained to her that he knew that winning the fight against the Champion of the World was a long shot, but if he could just go “the distance” and make it through that final bell standing, he will have won for himself. He ran towards that challenge in the face of fear, and didn’t look back. Fear heightens your senses and awareness; it keeps you alert and helps in better preparation. Some say where fear meets courage is the sweet spot in which mountains get scaled and rivers are run. Most of all, fear can be the birthplace of change, creativity and innovation. Don’t run from it, embrace it!

3. KEEP PUNCHING NO MATTER WHAT: No matter what anyone says, when you get knocked down, get back up and keep moving forward. Rocky gets the absolute beating of his life and even his trainer instructs him to stay down at one point. Rocky musters up enough strength to keep up the fight that final bell rang. Beaten, bruised and broken, he made it the finish line. It was a one in a million shot that he would be standing when it was all said and done, but he had accomplished what he needed to, despite being a “low life, washed up boxer, bum”. Never give up, because no matter how beaten you are, you could be just one more punch away from victory.

Who is the Apollo Creed that you need to face in life? Are you going to put your blinders up and run straight at him or keep running away? We all need motivation and we all need a support system to help us grow. Put the right pieces in place, lean on those that will help you and run as fast as you can toward your fear! You will be glad you did.