Keep Moving Forward: Lessons From The Rocky Franchise – PT. II
The year was 1979.
It was a big year and important time in pop culture. Sony Walkmans were all the rage, allowing people to take their music with them on the go for the first time. Atari is starting to make headway into the home market, on the verge of changing how arcade games were played forever.
1979 is also the year that we finally see a sequel to the original Rocky. Starting where the first chapter ended off, Rocky II was less about trying to conquer a dream, but more about keeping that dream alive.
“Because I Can’t Sing or Dance”
After going to war with Apollo Creed, considered by many to be the most dangerous fighter in the world, Rocky lives to see another day. He ends up in a hospital, along with Creed, receiving necessary treatment for their respective injuries.
Upon his release, Rocky is forced to consider his remaining career options. Adrian wants to keep him out of the ring because of the beating he took at the hands of Apollo–having suffered severe, near-permanent eye damage. He spent most of his money and finds himself doing commercials to try to make ends meet. But he knows he’s a fighter, and it’s all he knows how to do; it’s the only job he’s qualified to do, and it’s the only thing he wants to do.
Creed’s been going through issues of his own, dealing with the aftermath barely winning what was should have been an easy fight, and by decision no less. He’s trying everything he can do to goad Rocky into a rematch. Balboa finally accepts the fight, despite Adrian’s objections.
This presents a new challenge for Balboa: balancing his dream of being the champion with his family life and his obligations as a husband and soon-to-be father. With all of this heaving heavily on his mind, his training suffers. Then, due to an altercation with Paulie, Adrian suffers complications with her pregnancy and is rushed to the hospital. He diverts his attention from boxing to the health of his wife and unborn child.
“You’re Gonna Eat Light! You’re Gonna Crap Thunder!”
All this time, he missed out on training for the fight, and the clock was ticking. Rocky’s priorities, however, were clear: his family. Once Adrian gave birth to a healthy baby boy, he was finally ready, with Adrian’s blessing, to give his training his all.
When we have goals we want to achieve, our priorities have to change, even if it’s for only a brief period of time. That’s when we have to decide what’s most important; you have to decide what matters most, to you, right now.
Lesson: Reaching specific body composition goals, for example, require specific sacrifices. It can take over your life, and possibly alienate friends and family if you let it. Make no mistake, trying to reach a goal will disrupt life as you knew it, but as you get better, you’ll eventually learn how to balance reaching your goal with meeting your obligations.
It’s almost important to note that Rocky already knows what works for him. The training montage for this movie is basically the same as the last, with a few more exercises. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, looking for a new routine, and he executed his training flawlessly.
“YO, Adrian! I Did It!”
Pushing Creed to his limits once again, Rocky survives another 15-round war. This time, however, he emerges victorious.
At the end, we finally get the payoff we were waiting for: Rocky becomes the champ.
His last fight with Creed brutal and the training was rigorous. This time, Balboa had new challenges and responsibilities, all of which require his time and attention. And he was now facing a dangerous opponent who didn’t just want to defeat Rocky but wanted to humiliate him. Achieving your goals is one thing, but maintenance is quite another.
Lesson: As time goes on, life imposes greater and greater demands on our time. Responsibilities at work continue to expand; serious relationships take up more time, as they should; eventually, parenting becomes the most important thing in your life. Learning how to balance all of these things while still pursuing our goals is the only way to maintain the fruits of our hard work.
Keeping his goal in balance with his day-to-day life is what separated Rocky, the contender, from Rocky, the champ.
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