5 Motivational Lessons from the Rocky Balboa Speech to His Son
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The Rocky speech that Rocky Balboa gives to his son in the final installment of the Rocky series is one of the most widely recognized scenes in all of the Rocky movies. I’m going to make the assumption that you are not a professional boxer or the son of one, however, that doesn’t render this speech useless for you.
In this scene, Sylvester Stallone (who plays the title character of Rocky) captures many key principles to achieving success in life. Everyone can learn something from this Rocky speech, regardless of what area of life you could use some extra motivation.
Here’s the video (in case you’ve never seen it):
In this article, I'll talk about this video and and 5 motivational lessons that you can take away from this Rocky speech.
(Side note: One way to motivate yourself is to read something related to your career or the business world. You can do this by joining over 1 million others and start your day with the latest news from Wall St. to Silicon Valley. This newsletter is a 5-minute read that's informative, witty, and FREE!)
What You Will Learn
Motivational Lessons from the Rocky Balboa Speech
1. Accept Personal Responsibility
When something doesn’t go exactly how it was planned or if you make a mistake, who (or what) do you blame? Do you have the courage to make the right choice when you are faced with challenges that have resulted from your actions?
Making excuses to dispel responsibility when you make a mistake will prevent you from creating any real changes in your life. In this Rocky speech, he points out his son’s tendency to blame others when things have gotten difficult for him, suggesting that doing this is the easy way out.
Alternatively, people who accept personal responsibility are able to acknowledge the outcome of their decisions without accusing other people of any wrongdoing. Being able to do this will help you evaluate the outcomes that have come from your actions and design a plan to prevent future mistakes.
Practicing behaviors that make you accountable will strengthen your sense of personal responsibility. Aside from just owning your mistakes, this means showing people that you are reliable when it comes to delivering on your obligations, and showing other people that they can trust you to do what you say you’ll do.
2. Be Resilient
There is one line in this speech that really encompasses resilience. This is when Rocky says, “But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
The key to coping with stressful times and coming out on top is resilience. Even more than knowledge or training, having resilience in the face of hardships and unexpected changes can be the determining factor in whether you succeed or fail. Having resilience helps you thrive, even during troubling times, and turn potentially catastrophic situations into opportunities for growth.
Resilience is developed through your personal experiences. Research has shown that overcoming stressful situations early in life can set you up to be more resilient as an adult. Also, children who have nurturing caretakers who support their sense of confidence can also grow up to have a strong sense of resilience.
If you want to build resilience as an adult, you can change your attitude by becoming actively involved in problem-solving when issues arise, remembering that change is always an opportunity for growth, and responding to stress in an objective manner. As long as you can change your attitude about adverse or unfavorable situations, you can demonstrate resilience.
3. Believe in Yourself
“But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain’t gonna have a life.”– Rocky Balboa
If you don’t believe that you can do something in the first place, you won’t put forth your full effort in trying. Believing in yourself can be a determining factor in your potential success, as it gives you the confidence that you need to endure challenges.
The one thing about believing in yourself is that you have to be the one to do it. While other people can support you in your endeavors, they cannot make you believe in yourself. Plus, you’re giving outsiders little reason to believe in you if you aren’t able to do it first.
Setting goals is an effective way to build belief in yourself because achieving the goals that you create often takes you out of your comfort zone, and once you realize you can tackle one challenge, you will move onto the next, and then the next, and so on. If your goals seem unreachable, break them down into smaller goals that you can accomplish. The more you accomplish, the more you will believe in yourself.
Lastly, build up a sense of motivation that creates such a strong desire to achieve your goals that you won’t even question whether or not you can do it. Your determination is so strong that you just push through any doubts. As you progress, your amount of self-belief will skyrocket.
4. Stay True to Yourself
Staying authentic to yourself can be hard. It is often tempting to follow the same path that most others are leading, as it likely offers instant gratification instead of a slower and steadier rise to the top. However, if you stay true to yourself and stick to your values and dreams, you will be able to achieve whatever “success” means to you.
Just because you see other people creating brands by following a formula, that doesn’t mean that this is the right thing for you. You have to figure out what feels right for your own process. Authenticity is challenging, but it is certainly respected.
When you spend your time trying to crack someone else’s code to success, you’re disregarding your own. You’ll never achieve your own peak of success by using all of your energy figuring out how other people got to that point. One of the main keys to success is to turn all of that focus back on yourself.
The first thing you have to do to stay true to yourself is to figure out who you really are. For example, do you hate sales, but feel like that is all you are equipped to do? If you hate selling things, stop trying to convince your boss and your clients that you really care about whatever product (or service) you’re selling and expand your skills and abilities to land yourself a new career.
Also, consider the person you are at work versus the person you are at home. How different are these two people? Most people relax and get comfortable at home, and then put on a front at work. Instead, try to embrace your true self at work to be authentic. Use your personality to engage in real conversations and build connections with colleagues through honest communication.
Whatever your goals are, you need to take the time to decide if the end result is really what you want or need. Bring all of your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures to the table. Not only will this help you be relatable to other people, it will help you ultimately lead a fulfilling life because you won’t be pretending to be someone whom you’re not.
5. Be Willing to Be Vulnerable
The term “vulnerability” often has a negative connotation, because to be vulnerable, you’re putting yourself at risk of experiencing some type of harm. This may make you think of your weaknesses, mistakes you have made in the past, or a professional threat of some sort. However, embracing vulnerability is actually crucial to success.
Everyone has their own vulnerabilities and aspects of their personality that can either be helpful or hurtful. But by hiding your vulnerabilities, you’re essentially denying a huge part of your personality and putting up walls to block other people out. When you are willing to be vulnerable, it will allow you to connect with other people on a different level, which can lead to increased productivity and collaboration.
Being vulnerable can actually be one of your greatest protections. When you let your guard down, it dissolves any opposition and resistance against you that may be coming from other people. It then becomes much less likely that these people would hurt you.
Being vulnerable requires taking a risk, but if you are never willing to be vulnerable, you will never reap the benefits that may come out of the risks you’re taking. Be willing to fail, be willing to get hurt, and be willing to get back up and continue moving forward.
Final Thoughts on the ‘Rocky Balboa' Speech
No matter what your goals are in life, these motivational lessons can help you achieve them. Start by considering how you can apply these principles to your own life to improve your current situation. Then, think of how those changes can lead to future success. And, as Rocky said, “if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth.”
Finally, one way to motivate yourself is to read something related to your career or the business world. You can do this by joining over 1 million others and start your day with the latest news from Wall St. to Silicon Valley. This newsletter is a 5-minute read that's informative, witty, and FREE!)
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.