One of the most incredibly motivating and inspiring films of all time is without a doubt Rocky. Rocky is a film about people punching and hitting each other, but it has become much more than that. The Rocky theme tune is iconic and plays during pretty much any scene featuring people getting better at something. The film is adored by gym-goers all around the world and it is the ‘go to film’ for getting pumped.
But Rocky’s appeal lies deeper than the surface level masculinity, muscles and 80s rock. The key to Rocky’s influence lies in its message.
Because when Rocky goes up against and impossibly tall opponent, you know that it’s a metaphor. This is a metaphor for life and in our own lives, that opponent could be any obstacle. You know that eventually, Rocky is going to plough through that obstacle and you feel that in time, you could do the same.
If you watch the Rocky films more deeply, you’ll notice that they all share a few things in common. In particular, they all have Rocky in a rather bad place at the start. Rocky starts out destitute and alone and it is only by conquering these challenges that he is able to improve his lifestyle and his happiness.
What is this telling us? Simple: life is hard. And this is clearest in the excellent speech in Rocky Balboa ‘It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit’.
Here, Rocky is espousing stoic wisdom. Stoicism is perhaps the most bad-ass philosophy and its central tenant is that life is hard. Bad things will happen. There’s no benefit in being blindly optimistic: all we can do is to focus on dealing with the hard times when they come.
By doing this, we prepare ourselves for the storms that will come and we fortify ourselves against them. We are prepared for hard times and we are psychologically ready to deal with them. And because of this: nothing can surprise us and nothing can slow us down.
There is honor in surviving hard times. It makes us stronger, it makes us better. So, don’t shut out the hard times: thrive in them and allow them to make you stronger. That is stoicism and that is how you can ensure that you never face a challenge that you can’t handle.