I just watched the last movie of the Rocky
series, where Rocky, an "old man" comes out of retirement
and fights the world champion. In doing so, he teaches us something
about determination. At one point in the movie, in a conversation
with his son, he reveals part of the source of his incredible
determination. "Can you take the hit and keep moving forward?"
Stallone himself has demonstrated he can
take a hit and keep moving forward. His career is a demonstration
of the principle. He wrote the first Rocky movie only because
he couldn't get work as an actor. Then he pitched the movie and
insisted he act the main role. The story was good, so they shot
the picture and reluctantly agreed to let him act the main role.
That's how he got his break in the movie business: By taking
the hit (repeated rejection as an aspiring actor) and moving
forward toward his goal.
The real question is, of course, what makes
it possible to take a hit and keep moving forward? Is it willpower?
Determination? Even if it is, does that explain how it's done?
What makes it possible to remain determined in the face of setbacks?
That's the important question. The answer is: Your explanatory
style. That is, your style of explaining setbacks to yourself.
Learn more about that here.
What you believe about a setback makes
all the difference. If you believe the setback cannot be overcome,
you will be defeated. If you believe "where there's a will
there's a way," you will not give up.
And you cannot convince yourself to believe
something if you don't believe it. No matter how many times you
repeat it to yourself, if you don't really believe it, you can't
make yourself believe it. But you can look into your own thoughts
and discover something you believe that you've never realized
was false until you really took the time to look at it, and in
uncovering such a thing, your beliefs change, and when they do,
your determination recovers naturally. Learn exactly how to do
The principle Rocky repeats in the movie
is, "Nothing's over until it's over." When you can
dig up and reveal the flaws in your own pessimistic thoughts
about a setback, that principle will become your belief, not
by trying to believe it, but by finding out what pessimistic,
defeatist ideas you believe that aren't true. This process
sounds difficult to do, but it is not. It takes a little work,
but it is completely worth it.
If you have a difficult goal, or you feel
stuck, this is crucial information. It can get you unstuck. It
can keep you from getting demoralized. It can allow you to take
the hit and keep moving forward.
But even when you go through the trouble
of straightening out your thinking, you will accumulate pessimistic
beliefs again. Why? Because the media, communication, your own
brain, and reality all function as if they had a negative bias.
The world is full of demotivators, as Zig Zigler puts it. In
the movie, Rocky encounters each of these:
1. Media: News commentators make fun of him.
They make it clear he can't possibly fight this fight. He risks
death, and for sure he can't win.
2. Communication: The judges don't want to grant
him his fighting license. His son and his best friend are against
him at first and don't want him to fight. They think he's going
to lose, and they tell him so.
own brain: He knows he is "old." He has his doubts
about his ability. But he really wants to fight in the ring again.
4. Reality: Because of the way reality is rigged,
setbacks and weaknesses are more noticeable and memorable than
victories and strengths. The memories of failure, heartache,
and mistakes tempt Rocky to think pessimistically.
Those are the four ways pessimism worms its way into our
minds. But of course Rocky rises above them, and goes on
to fight. And he does it with that beautiful humbleness he has
made famous. A Shaolin priest couldn't do it better.
If you would like some inspiration, and
if you would like to see a realistic demonstration of crushing
pessimism, see the movie, Rocky Balboa.