On Being "Rocky"
"Everybody wants to be Rocky at the end of the movie."
I first heard this phrase from Dr. Kent Edwards years ago and I recall it whenever I am going through a phase where I gripe about how tough things are at any particular moment.
Anyone who is a fan of the original Rocky movie quickly understands what Dr. Edwards means by this statement. For those who are new to the Rocky concept - a quick tutorial.
Rocky is a movie about a down-on-his-luck boxer who is close to giving it all up as his career looks like it's going nowhere. He earns a meager living breaking thumbs for a Philadelphia loan shark, but dreams of making it big as a boxer. He's paid his dues. He has a good record fighting in smoke-filled arenas bringing home pennies to get his head knocked in. Rocky had it rough.
Then, he gets his big break. The world champion, Apollo Creed, offers Rocky a shot at the title and Rocky takes it. He makes the most of his shot and his goal is to "go the distance" so he can prove that he wasn't "just another bum from the neighborhood."
In 1976, Rocky was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three, including Best Picture. Still today, people run up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, standing at the top, arms raised high, sharing a moment of glory, like Rocky.
Everybody wants to be the Rocky who has given it all and stands there calling out for the love of his life, Adrian. Everybody wants to be the Rocky who inspires millions to be better, to keep trying. We all want to run up the stairs and bounce on the top with confidence and enthusiasm.
But none of us talk about being the Rocky that is filled with doubt and fear. We don't want to be the guy who runs half way up the stairs, grabs our side in pain and has to walk back down in humiliation. Nobody strives to be a gentle hearted thug who lives in the slums with only a dream to one day work his way out. We never want to be the guy who gets beat up night after night for the hope of a big break.
But Rocky continued to pay his dues with no promise of a future. He continued his dismal life, working for that big chance. He never gave up.
The fact is that nothing worth having is easy or fast. We all have aspirations that can be symbolized by Rocky's celebrations. But it always comes with work, and usually the work is not glamorous and is not celebrated.
Most of us have a vision of a strong practice that operates efficiently and allows us to build relationships with our patients. We dream of being stopped in town and being thanked publicly for changing someone's life. We spend the money that we know we will make and accept awards with honor from our various associations.
Many times, success seems to come naturally to others around us. They seem to have been given a big break or have a God given talent that gives them an unfair advantage. But the truth is that more times than not, the most successful just didn't give up when others did.
Sometimes things are tough and plans don't always work out like they should, but keep fighting. Things can change so quickly and sometimes we feel like everyone is out to get us.
Just know, Leadership OD is always in your corner.
Go the distance,
p.s. Rocky is now a Broadway musical and I was lucky enough to see a preview with my wife on Valentine's Day. (It is often called a "love story.")