Fortitude, Personal Development

Life Lessons from Rocky

Our family recently watched all 6 Rocky movies. It had been long enough since I’d seen any of them that I forgot much of the story. Of course I remembered Mr. T as Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed, and Ivan Drago, but I totally forgot about Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips along with much of the good story telling about real life. I was surprised at the positive messages in these boxing movies. I don’t care for boxing at all, in fact I think it’s a barbaric sport, but I can’t deny the positive life lessons taught in these movies. Read on for my insights from these movies in hopes that they will encourage you as they do me.

We Are All Overcomers

A central theme in the Rocky stories is heart or fortitude. Fortitude is the mindset that you will not be defeated no matter the obstacle, sacrifice, suffering, and pain. The body will only go as far as the mind will allow it. That’s why I like to say, “Healthy living starts between your ears.” Rocky had his mind right even if his body was never like that of his opponents. He won because of his heart. He would never give up. That’s mental fitness and fortitude.

You and I are not striving to overcome the physical beating a boxer takes, but we all have our personal battles. Maybe it’s defeating a doubt that we can’t do/ be something. Maybe it’s fear that we will fail, or never measure up. Maybe there’s a bad habit we wish we could conquer. Maybe it’s a bitterness or resentment that eats at us. We all have something to overcome. Rocky reminds us that we are overcomers and when our driving force to “win” is stronger than the excuses and obstacles, we can do amazing things. https://youtu.be/D_Vg4uyYwEk

No Regrets

In the 6th movie, Rocky is old and long retired living a quiet life as restaurant owner in Philly. Without spoiling the story, he gets this “itch” to fight again and he can’t shake it. Fighting is what he’d always done. Boxing is what brought him the most joy and satisfaction, how he was known, how he identified himself. Despite his age, there was still a fire in his belly to fight again. He called this fire “stuff in the basement.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et_Bdct1T0U

It seems strange that he would want to fight again because it really is crazy, but are we any different? I’m not. Life is short, health is not guaranteed, and I believe we all have a secret desire to not have regret. We don’t want to regret NOT doing the thing we always wanted to do, but were too afraid to go for it. We wonder, “Could I have really done X?” Rocky asked this question and he went for it, despite all the odds and obstacles. Despite what other people thought of his goal, Rocky went for it. I believe he is challenging us to do the same. https://youtu.be/KFLgYy2VHV0

What is your “stuff in the basement?” The thing in your heart that kind of eats at you to do, but you keep pushing it back down for all the list of excuses you’ve come up with over the years. Maybe it’s time to “let the beast out.” It doesn’t have to be an audacious physical goal either. Maybe it’s to do your part to restore a broken relationship, or confront a loved one, or to change jobs, or move away. I don’t know what it is, but you do.

Love Fiercely

I was not expecting to learn about marriage and family from Rocky, but it’s in there. Watching Adrian love and support Rocky is convicting and heartwarming at the same time. Man, she loved Rocky fiercely. Despite his flaws, which are many, she was always there to love, encourage, and support her husband. I’m convinced that Rocky would never have won any fights without the knowledge that Adrian was in his corner no matter what.

They yelled at each other. https://youtu.be/SDe3qE_aw8Q They argued. Mostly Adrian was right. But they reconciled quickly and let love rule their relationship. It’s beautiful. I love this quote:

“Adrian has gaps, I have gaps, but together…no gaps.”

Rocky Balboa

He knew he needed Adrian and he loved her deeply, cared for her, and always wanted the best for her no matter what. Marriage is meant to help complete the individual through mutual sacrificial loving. It’s how God designed us. Flawed as they are, Rocky and Adrian demonstrate this love well.

Family is important to Rocky and Adrian. He often talked about “home team” particularly with his son in Rocky V. When Rocky lost sight of his “home team,” Adrian was there to draw him back and the family was strengthened for it. Rocky even loved Paulie, Adrian’s drunken loser brother by forgiving him often when Paulie treated him or Adrian poorly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp80snqeI3w, and even when he squandered their fortune. Because Paulie was family, Rocky did all he could to love him despite his flaws and failures. A great example for us all.

Work Works

In all the movies, Rocky’s training plan was old school, fundamental, blood, sweat, and tears hard work. He didn’t have the fancy facilities or equipment, latest techniques or technology, or cutting edge gurus on his team. He didn’t take steroids or chemical supplements to improve his strength or stamina. The guy just worked. Hard. The Russian Drago in Rocky IV had all the stuff and he still lost.

I can’t get past this illustration applying to today’s multi-billion dollar health and fitness industry. All the gimmicks and gizmos, machines, pills, and chemical concoctions that promise to make you look like a superhero with minimal time and effort. Baloney. What really works is work. Doing the hard work consistently over time and having a team around you to support, care, encourage you along the way. Dang, sound a lot like Team Quadzilla. Just sayin’.

So there you have it: My take on the Rocky series and some of what we can learn about winning at life. What life lessons from Rocky resonate with you?

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