What Rocky Balboa taught me about self-worth

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

The original Academy Award winning Rocky came out in 1976. I was 2 years old. The film and it’s sequels have been a part of my life as long as I can remember.

As a high school wrestler I watched Rocky I – IV dozens of times each. And I thought I knew what they meant to me. I was inspired by Rocky the athlete, the underdog who went the distance, and ultimately became a champion. I did that. I know Rocky helped me achieve my own goals as an athlete.

Now, 38 years into my life, I’m still inspired by Rocky Balboa. But it’s different for me now. I think I understand Rocky better now. The man.

Self worth is personal. The world doesn’t define that for you by your accomplishments.

My favorite scene from all of the Rocky films has always been when Rocky goes to the arena in the middle of the night, the night before his first big fight with Apollo. There, alone in the ring, Rocky comes to terms with the reality of his upcoming fight. He’ll be fighting the best. A man out of his league as an athlete. He shouldn’t be there at all. But there will be a fight. And Rocky must come to terms with how it will change his life. After spending time alone, he goes home and sits on the bed beside Adrian.

Rocky: I can’t do it.
Adrian: What?
Rocky: I can’t beat him.
Adrian: Apollo?
Rocky: Yeah. I been out there walkin’ around, thinkin’. I mean, who am I kiddin’? I ain’t even in the guy’s league.
Adrian: What are we gonna do?
Rocky: I don’t know.
Adrian: You worked so hard.
Rocky: Yeah, that don’t matter. ‘Cause I was nobody before.
Adrian: Don’t say that.
Rocky: Ah come on, Adrian, it’s true. I was nobody. But that don’t matter either, you know? ‘Cause I was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if I lose this 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.

I wondered why Rocky didn’t have confidence in himself. But now I’ve come to understand that winning in life is relative. Winning wasn’t what Rocky needed. He just needed a chance. He needed a chance to stand up after being knocked down. Again and again. He needed a chance to still be there when the bell rang. Just the chance was enough. And survival.

I think that’s true in life. You won’t always be the best at what you do. You won’t always be given all of the best things in my life. But if you’re willing and ready, there will be a chance for you at some point. Seize the opportunity and take from it what you need, whether it’s winning, or simply being there. Still standing.

Strive for greatness. And fulfillment. Whatever that means to you.

I love you,

– Daddy


Thurs: 8 mile trail run

Fri: 3 mile road run

Sat: 6.5 mile trail run

Sun: 4.5 mile road run

Mon: 3.5 mile road run / Lifted weights

Tues: Swam 1000