Have you ever seen any of the movies in the Rocky franchise? If you haven’t, get a life. Those movies encapsulate the very essence of the American Spirit: rugged individualism and never giving up. Rocky starts out as nobody and ends up the champion of the world. What makes him so good at boxing isn’t his skills. In fact, he doesn’t have any more ability or strength than a normal fighter. However, what he does have is indomitable will. He won’t quit, even if it costs him his life, which means his opponent has already lost.
The greatest moment where this is demonstrated is in the second movie. Having face Apollo Creed once, he decides to go after it again. He goes in with no expectations except he won’t give up. Apollo still beats him to a bloody pulp, but Rocky ends up winning this time. What changed? If you watch the movie really closely, you can see when the tide shifts. He was getting pummeled by his opponent and still chose to get up when being knocked down. After so many times of seeing his opponent’s will, Apollo's temperament shifts to frustration and defeat. He realizes he can’t win because Rocky won’t stop coming.
Business and life are no different than a boxing match. Hopefully, you won’t be in a ring fighting for your life, however, life will give you some pretty good knocks. To quote Rocky, “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
In fact, let us be so bold to say that failure is a lie we tell ourselves. What is it really? It is a belief. A belief that we haven’t measured up. Instead, we need to see failure as a lesson or steppingstone. Yes, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted, but in reality, attempts throughout any journy rarely do. So what? The upside to things not working out is that you've now identified one more scenario that doesn't lead to the success you desire. Don’t do it again. Take note, readjust, and go a different route.
Of course, everything is easier in theory than application. How do we even start if we know we could get beaten down? Do what Rocky did. Give yourself no way out. To quote the famed boxer again, “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.”
Now, we aren’t saying you have to be willing to die. However, you need to have such a strong conviction in you to stay in the fight, that death is the only thing that will keep you from moving forward. Determination will get you in the ring, but only a deep-rooted conviction will keep you there until the job is done; as Rocky showed us. There has to be a moment where you "burn the ships", whether you have to get rid of easily attainable comforts or set a goal, that if not accomplished, leads to consequences. The Vikings burned their boats when landing on shore, leaving no other option but to move forward and complete the mission or drown trying to retreat. This isn't some rare trait reserved for heroes and legends. We all have a choice in how we respond to our circumstances, and the choice we make is what shapes us into a legend...or a loser. In fact, the very reason that you are alive today is likely that one of your ancestors had to make that choice.
Life isn’t a boxing match or a battlefield, but the fear hits us all the same. When you've latched on to the conviction that there's no way out but forward, that is when you'll move forward...someway, somehow. We each need that Rocky mentality when facing life: it will have to kill me to get me to quit.