I want to start out by telling you this is a going to be an out and out glowing review of Sly Stallone’s “Rocky” films in the context of the underlying message and will even include a clip from “Rocky Balboa”. That said, you can read on if you choose. I am also taking a page from my buddy Nate Rigg’s book and providing full transparency into my personal life.
So here it is. My oldest son (who just graduated from high school in June of this year) has decided to join the US Navy. He has talked about this since he was about 13 or 14 so it is really not a big surprise. The challenge is that even though we knew it was a goal, actually beginning the process and signing the paperwork is really where the reality hits you. Zane and I have had quite a few very meaningful conversations in the past 60 days regarding life and what lies ahead for him. They have been the mature types of conversations that I think every parent really wants to have and feels great when they actually happen. During these, I think he was able to begin to process the weight of his decision and really begin to sort out what he wanted as opposed to what others wanted for him.
As we sat in the recruiter’s office last week and he signed all of the paperwork (which by the way took over 90 minutes), I continued to walk through the next steps in my head. Zane has always expressed a desire to be a Navy SEAL. This was the main reason he selected the Navy in the first place. For clarification, SEALs training is said to be the ardous training in the military and only about 30% of those who start actually become a SEAL. I began thinking about this and wondering what will happen if he is unable to achieve his initial goal of becoming a SEAL. I need to be able to prepare him for this without tempering his enthusiasm and confidence in his ability.
It was during this time I found the clip from “Rocky Balboa” that you can view at the end of this post. It is able to provide the most succinct advice for life I have ever heard in less than 2 minutes. The message in the clip is actually the foundation of all 6 Rocky movies…the person who can take the most punishment and keep moving forward always win. In those movies, Rocky was never the best fighter or the most skilled. His single advantage was his heart and his willingness to face sometimes insurmountable odds for the chance to prove himself. In each movie, he was battered and beaten soundly only to fight back and overcome the adversity to win. In “Rocky Balboa”, Sly finally clarified his message. This is the where the moral is that the outcome is not nearly as important as the effort. The real battle is often fought just to get the chance to take the shot. In fact, if you do “win”, the next morning can seem a bit disorienting as you try to figure out what’s next. As the quote goes, “Success is never final and failure is never fatal.”
This is the message for Zane (and all of us really). We should always focus on continuing to fight to get our shot at the dream…whatever that is. What will define you is your ability to keep moving forward regardless of the setbacks suffered. If you have never overcome adversity to achieve a goal, then did you really achieve anything? At some point, our culture shifted from admiring “fighters” to admiring “winners”. Don’t get me wrong, winning is not a bad thing but it most certainly is not the only thing.
The ending of “Rocky Balboa” says it all when Rocky leaves the ring before the decision is announced. He doesn’t care who they say won because he had already accomplished his goal…he fought his fight. Maybe that is the real lesson. We should always have our own definition of success and not allow others to define it for us. If we do that, we win.
Whether or not Zane attends SEAL Training or becomes a SEAL makes no difference to me. What I am proud of is that he has taken the steps to put himself in the position to strive for his goal. He is focused and knows what it will take. So long as he can look himself in the mirror and know that he gave 100%, he will be a success.