rocky's life lessons


Long before there was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, there was the true People’s Champ commonly known as the Italian Stallone or to his close friends Rocky, Rocco or just Rock.

I grew up watching the original Rocky and have seen every sequel since. It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since we were first introduced to this character. A man who had little skill but a lot of heart, coupled with fierce determination and the eye of a tiger – there would be little to not like about this guy. It’s the story of an underdog who never gave up and fought his way through all of life’s challenges to reach the pinnacle of greatness. Sure some of the sequels where better than others, but that doesn’t change the undeniable impact Rocky has had on millions of people across the world.

I figured it was time to pay homage to the man who made the song “Eye Of The Tiger“, phrases like “No Pain“, “Adrian” and of course his legendary training montages a Linked article highlighting his power and influence when it comes to igniting the hearts and minds of so many people…including myself. Here are 11 lessons Rocky can teach you about going the distance:

  1. A little luck isn’t a bad thing. For those who know Rocky’s rise to stardom, know that his first fight wasn’t based on skill or reputation but rather his name. Granted lady luck was on his side and opened the door for him but Rocky accepted it and openly took the opportunity to create what he saw possible. When opportunity knocks, make sure you listen. Many successful people today will tell you that a little luck played a big role in their success and that it’s okay. In the end, Rocky’s name got him a shot in the big leagues but his heart and spirit eventually won him a title.
  2. Know what winning looks like (to you). In boxing, you’d think winning means knocking down your opponent. For Rocky, in his first movie, it was about “going the distance”, which meant lasting all 15 rounds with Apollo Creed, the world champion. Winning shouldn’t be what others define it to be, it’s a goal you set for yourself. Define what will make you a winner and ignore preconceived definitions of it.
  3. Make the best with what you have. Rocky trained chasing chickens, pounding hanging meat in a locker and running miles in a pair of chucks. He didn’t complain, he looked at what he had and went to work.You can’t always expect to have the best tools (or people) to work with – learn to work with limited resources and focus on your outcome.
  4. Size doesn’t matter. It’s always easy to count out the underdog or smaller opponent. Just watch Rocky IV and you will know what I mean. Look at Spud Webb, the shortest NBA player to have played professional basketball and the slam-dunk championship. Sometimes it’s not the actual height but someone’s overall ability to succeed. Look at the countless success stories of people throughout time who were told they wouldn’t make it – Walt Disney, Oprah and of course Einstein. In the end it’s about your willingness to succeed being greater than your expectation of failure.
  5. Being different can be your greatest strength. Rocky wasn’t the greatest fighter, we all know that but he was also different. He was a lefty (or a “southpaw” as they say in boxing) and had to learn how to use this to his advantage to overcome his opponents. In the movie, he develops his right hand to throw off Apollo in their rematch. Overcoming his difference made him the champion. Never shy away from what makes you unique, instead learn to develop your differences and defy the naysayers.
  6. Motivation is essential. Rocky is always seems to be training erratically and unfocused until that pivotal moment he receives a motivating speech from his wife, his coach or some outside influence. Even the best of the best need someone by their side to motivate and support them. Always seek to include motivating others in your everyday tasks, give others the confidence and skills they need to become champions.
  7. Never lose site of the important people in your life. At one point,Rocky drops the ball and losses focus on what’s most important – his family. His consumption to win impedes his ability to see that he is losing his wife and family. At one point Adrian tells him, “you’re losing us, you’re losing your family.” We are all guilty of working extra hours at the expense of leaving our loved ones unattended but the key is in finding the balance between your corporate battles and being a champion at home.
  8. Overcoming life’s unknowns.Throughout the Rocky saga, his toughest battles and subsequently biggest life lessons happen outside the ring. Rocky deals with the loss and death of his long time trainer, his best friend and his wife. His entire support system that lifted him to greatness was taken away. Life is always going to challenge you, especially when you least expect it. You can’t avoid the unknowns in life, but you can face them head on and overcome them to achieve greatness.
  9. Practice humility. Contrary to what many will tell you (including your ego/pride), being humble isn’t a sign of weakness but actually a signal of great strength. Throughout the storylines, Rocky continually wins over the hearts of his fans through his words by saying what he thinks, being truthful and respectful to others – especially his adversaries. Rocky possessed a level of integrity and honored his word. Honor yours and let your actions speak for themselves.
  10. Put in the work. Success in life is rarely handed to you on a silver platter. In fact in order to achieve greatness, you must put in the time to prepare accordingly, be willing to sacrifice and find the inner strength to go the distance. Rocky is known for his prolific training montages where he punished himself and fought through the pain to ensure he was ready for the challenge. If you want to be successful in life you have to be willing to put in the work and maintain discipline in achieving your goals.
  11. Be open to criticism. No matter where you, what you do or when you do it – someone will undoubtedly be there offering up their opinion, feedback or criticism on how you performed. This is life and inescapable, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If Rocky weren’t open to hearing the criticism from his trainer Mickey (or anyone else for that matter) he wouldn’t have become the world champ. Rocky said to his son once: “it is not about how hard you hit, is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward, that is how winning is done!” and that is the point.

“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.” Rocky IV

Final Round:

Success in life isn’t always determined by how rich, smart, talented, or skilled you are; it isdetermined by how hard you can persevere through challenges. It’s important to know when to throw in the towel and that’s okay if you honestly have given it your all. Remember that if you fall, get back up no matter how insurmountable the odds may appear because quitting doesn’t make you grow as a person…quitting just takes you farther away from winning at life.

The Floor Is Yours: What’s your tip on being successful in life?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership, Joshua Miller /

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