Baseball has always been my favorite sport to play and follow. Football has always been one of my favorite sports to watch. Basketball seemed like it was my destiny, having always been a head or two taller than kids my age and now standing at 6’8”.
While I still admire all of these sports, I have found that life is actually more like the sport of boxing. Every situation we face is an opportunity to step into the ring. How well we have prepared before stepping into the ring has a huge impact on the outcome of the match. Once we put our gloves on and our mouthpiece in, it’s go time. It’s us vs. whatever we’re up against. Whether we win or lose the fight, a lesson is learned. Every fight prepares us for the next battle.
THROW YOUR HAT IN THE RING
The opposition could be anything from fighting the will to wake up to literally battling an addiction. Some people battle emotions like fear, anxiety, worry, or doubt. We face people every day who push our buttons or annoy us with their arrogance or judgment. We clash with things like weight loss, various health diagnosis, parenting issues, and relationship conflicts.
While the majority of our fights are not in the physical realm, we must still equip ourselves for the mental, emotional, and spiritual attack we’re about to face. With each instance, there are things we could do to prepare us to have a successful fight against whatever opponent stands across from us. One thing is undeniable. The fight WILL come. Let’s prepare ourselves for battle and throw our hat in the ring as we fight to win!
TRAIN LIKE A CHAMPION
Hopefully everyone reading this has seen at least one of the several Rocky movies. If you have not, please pause in reading this and go do yourself a solid by starting with the first (and best in my opinion) Rocky movie!
In essentially every Rocky movie, the main character, Rocky Balboa, is faced with some seemingly overwhelming obstacles. While he’s punch-for-punch a better boxer than most people will ever be in their life, every movie shows him going through a grueling training process.
If you’re like me, you can hear Eye of the Tiger playing in your head as you think about this. You can picture Rocky running on the sandy beaches with his perspiration-stained sweatshirt and sweatpants on. Your mind will transition to the scenes of Rocky punching the speed bag and going to town on the punching bag with Mickey spotting him and yelling, “They’re gunna run right ‘tru’ ya, Rocky!” And of course everyone remembers the famous steps Rocky runs up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Even after all of Rocky’s intense training sessions, you still see him getting his nose bloodied and face caved in during the early part of the fight. As they spray water into his mouth and face and bandage up all his cuts to make the blood stop flowing, Mickey is always there in his corner encouraging him to keep going.
Sometimes Mickey is even telling him to throw in the towel, but Rocky’s stubbornness and will to not give in keeps him fighting on. Rocky often has memories of his wife, Adrian, to help fuel him to keep getting up off his seat and back into battle as the bell rings to indicate another round.
In life, no matter how prepared we are, there will still be times where we get our nose bloodied, figuratively speaking. The fight is rarely easily won. Sometimes it will cost us something or even everything in some cases. It won’t always feel great, but each fight makes us battle tested. Get back up and get in the ring!
FIND YOUR MICKEY AND ADRIAN
While it was Rocky who did all the training and who threw all the punches in the ring, it was Mickey and Adrian who kept him fighting on.
Mickey was there to give Rocky the hard truth. He called Rocky a bum when his self-doubt started taking over. Mickey pushed Rocky to keep training and to keep fighting and he did it with a hard love. As hard as Mickey was on Rocky, he was always there for him to drive him on.
Adrian, on the other hand, was Rocky’s love interest and support system. No matter how punch-drunk Rocky got during his fights, Adrian was always there to soften and heal his internal wounds. Spoiler alert: Adrian was a big part of Rocky’s “why.”
We all need a Mickey and an Adrian in our lives. We need a Mickey to give us that extra push out of our comfort zones. It’s the Mickeys in our lives who motivate us by telling us the stuff that no one else will and continually push us to become a better version of ourselves. Find someone in your life who is a mentor, someone who makes you better by not sugarcoating things for you.
At the same time, I feel like we need to find a balance by having Adrians in our life. No, I don’t make it plural to suggest you should have multiple spouses or significant others. What I mean is we need to surround ourselves with encouragers. Fighting the fight can take a toll on our physical and emotional state. We need someone or a small group of people we can go to for motivation and encouragement to keep fighting.
We need people telling us the other side of the hard truths. Other people can be a better barometer for our progress than we are. They can remind us that we’re more than conquerors in this life. Adrians are there to love us through every up and down. They celebrate our success and they help pick us up when life knocks us down.
I encourage you all to find your Mickey AND your Adriane.
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
Just like in every Rocky movie, we aren’t going to win every battle we face the first time we go up against it. Sometimes we will get KO’d during one match, but how we bounce back from that knock-out will go a long way in determining the outcome of the next fight.
In doing research for this post, I came across story after story of famous and successful people we all know, but who didn’t rise to stardom instantly. Most of the time we see a famous athlete or a successful business person and it’s easy to think they got to where they are overnight. Sometimes we think that they were born successful.
I found that this is the farthest thing from the truth. Many times that CEO or that World Series MVP failed over and over in their life. The difference is, they got back into the ring every time and kept fighting until they reached the pinnacle of their chosen profession.
For example, I’m a huge Elvis Presley fan. Elvis has been dubbed “The King,” because of how good he was in his musical career. But did you know that Elvis failed in many of his music classes and was considered a social misfit by his classmates and teachers?
Elvis was actually a truck driver while he was trying to get his foot in the door of the music industry. He was told by his manager that he should just go back to truck driving and give up on the music thing. After years of never giving up and continuing to perfect his craft, he soon caught a break and the rest, as they say, is history.
How about the famous author Stephen King? Ever heard of him? He is widely considered the greatest living writer and one of the best of all time. He has authored over 60 books in his life and continues to pump out novels at the ripe old age of 72!
King’s first published novel was a book entitled Carrie. The book was originally rejected 13 times by publishers. According to litreactor.com, one of those publishers added a note to their rejection letter that read, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
“By the time I was 14 the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.” -Stephen King
After this, Stephen King packed up and went home and was never heard from again….NOT!
After all those rejections, he finally found two publishers who offered him advances to write his novel, one in hardcover form and one in paperback. Carrie went on to sell over a million copies in the first year after being published.
King has sold over 350 million copies of his books to date!
I also learned a lot about Vincent van Gogh. All I really knew about him was that he’s one of the most famous painters of all time and he cut off his own ear. Van Gogh actually had so many critics in his earlier days of painting that he often burned many of his pieces of work out of frustration.
Vincent van Gogh had only sold one painting his entire life. I say “his entire life” because he was so frustrated with his failures that he actually took his own life. Not long after ending his life, van Gogh’s paintings started gaining worldwide critical acclaim. His many paintings now sell for millions of dollars and are hung in just about every art class and museums around the world.
ON THE ROPES.
Elvis, King, and van Gogh were all faced with the same challenges and all battled the same criticisms and failures. They all also chose between two very separate paths.
While Elvis and King chose to never give up and to keep perfecting their skills and talent, van Gogh gave up on himself before his dreams could ever have a chance at coming true. I’m certain that one difference was that Elvis and King had found his Mickey and Adrian. Elvis Presley and Stephen King had people in their corner telling they they needed to get better and they had people in their corner telling them to keep going.
Elvis, Stephen King and Vincent van Gogh became wildly successful and famous. Two got to reap years of success from the seeds they had sown, while one never even knew he made it big.
Like I mentioned earlier with the Rocky movies, each battle you face in life is often a stepping stone for the next fight. Each fight prepares you for what could be coming next. If you give up and don’t continue to fight on, you’ll never gain the strength and perseverance you’ll need for the next fight you’re about to face. This can cause a future of losing or it can turn you into a prized fighter with a killer instinct.
Once you defeat one battle, it’s so much easier to knock it out the next time you face it. Usually you’ll be able to defeat it before it even presents itself. Conversely, giving into failure will make it that much easier to give up the next time you’re faced with an obstacle.
Some people have given up so much because of failure that all they see is defeat, like van Gogh. It’s important to never let one failure turn into a life of failure because you started to believe failure is inevitable.
It’s also important to change your mindset about failure. Instead of seeing failure as a loss, see it was a lesson learned. Instead of seeing failure as, “Great, I failed again because I’m a loser,” start seeing failure as, “Awesome! I’ve found out what not to do, so next time I’ll be ready and try a different strategy!”
I’d be a fool if I didn’t touch on the spiritual battles we face every day. It’s vital to know and understand that there is an enemy out there in this world. That enemy has many names and they aren’t always satan, lucifer or devil. The enemy is often disguised as many of the issues and battles I’ve mentioned above. His sole purpose is to seek, kill and destroy. He is a liar. He is a master of confusion. And he’s fighting to capture your soul.
One amazing thing about being a follower of Christ (commonly referred to as a “Christian”) is that Jesus fights a lot of battles for us. We will never comprehend or know of all the times he’s defeated enemies for us until we are in heaven.
If you’re fighting any battle, whether it be some sort of abuse or addiction or anything else, if you feel it taking you under, reach out to Jesus. He will either step into the ring and fight the fight for you, or he will be there fighting alongside you.
There’s a famous story in the Old Testament book of Daniel. It’s a story of three boys who refused to bow down to the King of Babylon. The King essentially made all his people bow down to gold statue of a Babylonian god. When the three boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and defy their God, King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace.
The three Jewish boys had faith that their God would save them. When the King looked into the fire and saw four figures, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the Son of God, he pulled them out of the fire. The King then saw how great their God was and made a decree that the God of Israel was to be worshipped. As for the three boys, they were all promoted to a higher office by the King.
You see, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego called out to God for help, God sent them help. The help didn’t come via God pulling them out of the fire or even making the fire go away. God’s help came in the form of the Son of Man who got down into the fire with the boys and stood with them in their fight. If God had just removed the obstacle, the King would not have seen the Glory of God and the boys would not have won and been promoted.
How many times do we question the faithfulness of God to help us in our battles because he doesn’t take the battles away from us? We think that God has abandoned us in our time of need, when really he’s there and ready to fight alongside us.
Sometimes we would just prefer God sprinkle some fairy dust on our situation and make it magically disappear. But God is not a fairy or a magician. God is Sovereign and just. His ways are greater than our ways. He will never leave us nor forsake us, even in the midst of battle.
RING THE BELL
There’s only a few guarantees in life. One of those guarantees is that you will be in a fight most every day of your life. While not every duel is a title fight on pay-per-view, every day presents itself with an opportunity to fight to become a better version of yourself.
Train everyday to help fight your specific struggles. The outcome of each battle will be reliant on how well you’ve trained before the starting bell rings.
Find your Mickey and Adrian in your life. Whether they be actual people or support groups you find. You need a mixture of both to create a balance in your life.
NEVER. GIVE. UP.
No matter what challenges you face or what setbacks you have to endure, change your mindset to see each one as an opportunity to strengthen your core and press on! Like I stated in my post “The Story of Your Life,” don’t stop reading until the end of your story. Don’t be a van Gogh!
Become a prized fighter. Fight and fight and fight. Don’t stop until the fight is over. Don’t stop until you WIN!
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.” -Rocky Balboa