Today’s blog post is the fourth in a monthly series that I plan to post for the rest of 2012. I hope all the readers of this blog find as much inspiration, value, & encouragement in these as I intend there to be
October’s ** movie recommendation from the vault for eagles ( those who soar! ) & rascals ( those climbers who strive to be part of the 5-10% riding the success curve of LIFE ) is 1982’s ‘Rocky III‘, written by the star of the series himself, Sylvester Stallone.
As with the previous posts, my perspective with this review/recommendation is to tie the script in with the 13 resolutions for LIFE and/or the 8 cornerstone F’s, along with a short take on the movie itself. Due to the movie having been released nearly a quarter century ago, there’s nothing original to be said in the latter 😉
In this 2nd sequel to the ground-breaking original from 1976, we find Rocky at the top of his game. He has won the Heavyweight Championship from Apollo, and he and Mickey, his original and current manager, are seen in the opening montage, along with Adrian, while Rocky is on a domestic and international tour, defending the title and remaining undefeated throughout. Survivor’s iconic song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgSMxY6asoE is playing in the background 🙂
Fast forward from here to Rocky’s first in person encounter with his nemesis in this film, Clubber Lang, played by, a debuting to the big screen/celluloid star in the making, Mr. T. Clubber is clearly the guy with hunger and passion, and his purpose is clear: He wants the title, and he will go through whatever it takes to get it. Rocky, on the flip side, is basking in the peace and affluence of being on the peak of the mountain-top.
We see what happens when there’s a clash of hunger v. satisfaction “as is” – Rocky is pounded mercilessly, and loses – badly. Along the way, as the narrative advances, Rocky is re-introduced to his former adversary/foe, Apollo Creed, and he and Apollo build a relationship and bound together as friends with aim at common goals: to regain the title and rediscover Rocky’s hunger and original passion, his courage, and raw determination. And, with this movie being as popular and long-lasting as it is, we all know the end result: Rocky, against all the odds having been stacked up against him by the critics, cynics, and even his own subconscious mind for a time, wins, and wins going away. The final 5-10 minutes are stand up and cheer all the way! 😀
How does Rocky’s dream, struggle, and victory storyline tie in with the 8 F’s of LIFE? Let’s look closer:
Family – Rocky & Adrian had their first child, a boy, in the first sequel a few years hence. He is now growing up, and Rocky feels a pull on himself that did not exist before: He now has two very important cornerstones in his life that transcend boxing, and his mentoring/coaching relationship with Mickey (and later Apollo).
Faith – Rocky always says a prayer in the corner before his bouts. Like with many athletes, including much more recently, Tim Tebow, this grounds him properly before he goes off to make his living in the center of the ring.
Friends – Mickey, while a tough nosed trainer, has become a trusted friend to Rocky. Rocky grew up under his tutelage, after all. Rocky also forms a concrete bond with Apollo Creed as the film moves forward after Clubber won their title bout.
Finances – Rocky started in the original movie with very little money, and by the time of this second sequel, his success in the ring had brought him riches that seemed to have no end: endorsement deals from all corners, title bout monies from promoters worldwide, and merchandise sales from his public training! ( the latter thanks to the entrepreneurial Paulie 😉 ) However, it is clear that the money took the edge off of his hunger, determination, and willingness to be a student. This cost him far more, at least for a good chunk of the film, than what he had gained.
Fitness – The training montages from the Rocky films are legendary. This sequel did not disappoint one bit! After Adrian reached Rocky’s soul with her admonition on the beach, it was like the ‘Italian Stallion’ was reborn! His heart (EQ) reconnected with his mind (IQ), and the will to win returned (WQ).
Fun – Rocky knows how to have fun. The initial training at the gym before his title loss was hilarious in many ways; not to Mickey, mind you, but to the fans who came to see the champ up close.
Following – Leadership is character in motion; Rocky’s character is battle tested throughout the series, and in a special way in this sequel. Having lost his original fire in the belly (hunger), not to mention his humility, he had to rediscover them both after experiencing failure. Failure is simply an event; every leader knows this. However, until Apollo came along, let alone his wife’s from the heart (to heart) talk, Rocky identified his loss to Clubber as a failure = he as a man, and as a father/husband. His success that won him the title originally was based on failure after failure, including mistakes!
Freedom – The financial windfall after defeating Apollo in the sequel gave him plenty of freedom through wealth: wealth is composed of time and money. However, it came at a steep price – he paid it in spades, and once he found his purpose ( the convergence of potential, passion, and profits = hedgehog concept, all credit to Jim Collins ), this type of freedom was grounded not on a foundation of mud and sand, but rather on concrete.
The 13 Resolutions apply rather neatly to the narrative as well –
Purpose has been mentioned numerous times; Rocky’s character ( integrity x courage ) was put through the furnace of struggle. His attitude needed a lot of work, and his friend and wife helped him immensely to fix it at the core. He struggled with vision, due to issues that too few of us understand: the subconscious mind is so much more powerful than the conscious, and for Rocky, the former was in a war with the latter, and when this happens, the person almost always doesn’t get what he wants. He needed to understand the immense value of PDCA’ing, including grasping that his scoreboard/card was missing some key elements. Along the way, he built a deep seated friendship with Apollo, and grew closer to his wife, who clearly is his friend and confidante as well as his spouse. Undoubtedly, his finances improved markedly by being a champion, however, he let the affluence get to his head & heart, which whittled away at his will to win. Leadership includes so many features, inc. the willingness to change, to have priorities in line, and to be interdependent, and practicing team-work. Along the way, Rocky learned how crucial each of these are to being a winner both in and out of the ring. He also had to learn how to be a better man, which often comes by truly grasping conflict resolution skills; triangulation, avoidance, and silence are each poor substitutes for truly getting to the heart of what’s dividing one person from another. His thinking was also lacking both before his startling defeat at the hands of Clubber Lang, but also after during the initial training with Apollo. Systems thinking shows that circular reasoning, such as knowing something needs to be different (behavior/understanding) to face a new foe (a threat, competitor, et al.) and responding defensively will simply not work. Unquestionably, we saw that Rocky’s adversity quotient was lower than one might expect from having a World Championship belt around his waist; so it took a crushing defeat, a return to basics, bonding with his wife, and a new friend to bring his equation of IQ + EQ + WQ up to the standards required to again be victorious. Last of all, Rocky’s legacy was put in serious doubt due to his response-ability after winning the belt. He didn’t realize that Mickey was accommodating his protege, which dulled his passion and iron will. Of course, this led to failure and defeat, and in some measure, took Rocky back to his roots through the eyes of Creed, his new mentor. In the end game, though, his legacy was restored to its former glory, and his fans went wild after he took Clubber and pounded him into the mat 🙂
While some see this movie as simply a sports flick, there is so much more below the surface. As usual, a sensus plenior / metaphorical perspective produces so much more lessons than a sensus solum / surface level one. Thank you so very much for reading, and as always, shares & comments are most especially welcomed. Namaste! 🙂