Cinematic Life Lessons: Rocky

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If you’re passionate about film, you’ll know the power it has to inspire. Film Sprites PR was founded thanks to a flash of cinematic inspiration in the wake of a tragedy, so we know how powerful it is too! We wouldn’t exist without filmmakers and their films.

In addition to bringing you PR and digital marketing hints and tips, we’re going to be sharing a semi-regular feature that examines classic films and the life lessons you can glean from them. Whether you’re a filmmaker, an entrepreneur or a film fan, we’re sure there’s something to inspire you.

We’ll say this in advance to save frustration: SPOILER ALERT! Yes, there will be spoilers. You have been warned. Today we’re examining the Oscar-winning underdog film Rocky.

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The story of the filming of Rocky is an underdog story in and of itself (check out the trivia tidbits on IMDb and you’ll see what I mean). Given the success of the finished film, that’s enough to inspire anyone in their endeavours! Here’s a few lessons you can glean from Rocky, no matter what your ambitions may be:

We all start somewhere: Everyone remembers the iconic scene where Rocky Balboa sprints through Philly and up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum before raising his fists in triumph. But remember the first scene of him attempting to do the same thing? By the time he gets to the top step he’s winded and crouched over. At this point in his training, Rocky’s got the strength (he’s KOed a few guys in his career)…but he doesn’t have the stamina. And that’s exactly what he needs to take on Apollo Creed. Like Rocky himself says to Adrian the night before the fight: “It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”

So during that first morning of training, Rocky could’ve got to those steps, been hunched over, winded and exhausted and gone: “this is not worth it. I can’t be bothered.” But he didn’t. He kept training. Every single one of us, regardless of who we are and what we’re attempting to do, has to start somewhere. We don’t just pop out of holes in the ground, fully formed as a successful filmmaker/entrepreneur/sportsperson, etc. Here at Film Sprites PR what looked like an overnight success when we first opened in 2014 was just the half of it. Before that time there had been 2 years of training, networking and other things happening behind the scenes before anything could move forward.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re ‘at’ on your path- just start.

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People may underestimate you: people have a tendency to underestimate others, especially if you’re not hefting around a massive amount of awards and/or accolades. But you know your inherent worth, your talent and your value to others. Look at Rocky- he loses his locker at the gym to a younger guy, and even when he’s on the news, brutally pounding on beef carcasses in the frozen meat locker Apollo Creed can’t be bothered watching because he doesn’t consider him a threat. If he had considered him a threat and had watched, he might have been able to avoid the broken ribs he would sustain in the fight; not to mention the wound to his rep because he didn’t KO Rocky like he had with so many other opponents. Rocky was able to take the stones that people threw at him and build a fortress. He trained as if he wasn’t an underdog and he surprised the heck out of people.

It doesn’t matter what people think of you- it’s all about your own belief in your capabilities. If you’re on board with your belief, your talent and worth shines through and that’s when you get people to realise that you’re a champion. Like Mark Twain said: “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

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Value the people who were there for you from day one: remember when it was announced that Rocky would be taking on Apollo Creed, meaning massive exposure and a huge payday for him? All of a sudden, people came out of the woodwork to help him when they wouldn’t before. Adrian’s sleazy brother Paulie is immediately looking for ways to capitalize on Rocky’s “fame”. And then there’s Mickey, who unceremoniously threw Rocky’s things out on “skid row” after 6 years, but then comes to Rocky’s apartment, simpering and showing him faded photographs and newspaper cut-outs of his own glory days. Even though Rocky would take on Mickey as his trainer and cut Paulie some slack with sponsorship on his robe, it shows that there are people who will turn up when they sniff out an opportunity. In fact, they’re probably among the people who underestimated you!

That’s why regardless of your dreams, goals and ambitions you need a rock-solid support team from day one. Fill it with people who know your ability, see your future potential and love you for who you are (and not who you know or what you can get them). Have people in your life who remain separate from your career ambitions, like family. Let’s face it- family doesn’t always understand what you’re doing, but if they’re supportive of you as a whole they’re there whether you are up or down. Seek mentors in your field. Find like-minded friends. Stay true to who you are and don’t be taken in by the false flattery of people who only show support when they see you “winning”.

Have visual reminders of your goals: now, you don’t need to have a vision board of sorts (although you could if you like that process- it’s entirely up to you!), but having some visual reminders of your goals around you serves as a touchstone for when your energy and determination may be flagging. Rocky’s got his wall of reminders too: a poster of Rocky Marciano, a magazine cover with himself on it, etc. Here’s a true story: an acquaintance of mine is married to a successful author who has penned many books (and has now had his book adapted into a film). A long time ago to cheer her husband up, my acquaintance got a special keyring made up for her husband that had the name of his now successful book etched onto it with the words: “New York Times #1 Bestseller” underneath. And yes, he achieved that goal.

Now go forth and be the champion you are.