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I’ve always loved going to the movies.

As a kid, it was an escape from the rough neighborhood I grew up in, a chance to relax and forget about school work, and a glimpse into other worlds. At the movies, I could wrap myself up in someone else’s story for a couple of hours.

When I was seven, I saw a movie that changed my life: Rocky.

Yes, Rocky. The raw egg drinking, chicken chasing, Art Museum step running underdog that never gave up. The movie’s tagline told me all I needed to know: “His whole life was a million-to-one shot.”

He proved everyone wrong.

The story hit me harder than a southpaw’s right hook. Here was this guy fighting for the one thing he always wanted, and no one thinks he can win. But he works his ass off, and when the time comes, he surprises everyone. The story behind the movie is just as inspiring.

Sylvester Stallone not only played the iconic Rocky, but he also created him. With just $106 in his bank account, Stallone wrote the first draft of the movie on a pad of paper in only three days.

Once the final screenplay was ready, he had to fight to win his role and, when he finally did, was given a minuscule budget and a 28-day time frame to shoot the movie. Somehow he was still able to make a classic.

What is it that makes the movie and the story behind it so inspiring? It’s this thing we call grit.

Grit is the passion and perseverance of pursuing long-term goals. Angela Duckworth has spent much of her life researching the topic, and when I spoke with her a while back, we discussed how people with grit focus on the things they can change. Their head may be up in the clouds, but they keep their feet firmly planted on the ground.

When you think about it like that, it’s clear Rocky (and Stallone himself) was a gritty guy.

Rocky had talent, but that didn’t make him a famous boxer. By day, he worked as a debt collector, but he continued to work towards his goal of one day making it big.

He continuously pushed himself to be better.

He transformed his life when almost no one else thought he could. He took risks and faced fear head-on.

He surrounded himself with people who helped him become better.

And he won.

You’re a combination of the five people you hang out with the most. Don’t hang out with losers that bring you down. Surround yourself with other passionate, hardworking, gritty people. They will inspire you, encourage you, and help you back up when you fall.

Of course, the only person that can really push you further though is yourself. Others may inspire you, but you must pick yourself up and start moving.

I believe that we are inherently gritty as individuals, but with each passing generation, we are getting lazier and lazier.

We aren’t supposed to eat pounds of junk food or sit on our ass all day. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. For thousands of years it’s been an uphill battle. Today, we want everything handed to us on a golden platter. The problem with that is that we always want more. When you don’t work hard for what you want, you don’t feel any sense of accomplishment if and when you do get it.

When you work hard for your goals, you’re rewarded ten-fold. 

Rocky knew this. Stallone knew this.

Next time you’re about to give up, remember this:

“It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

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