45,000 Minutes!

Rocky Balboa had been bullshitting for weeks. He was going through the motions, kidding himself that he was ready for his upcoming defense of the heavyweight title. And true to himself, Mickey, Rocky’s grumpy old trainer, told him like it was. “For a 45 minute fight,” he yells, “you gotta train hard for 45,000 minutes! 45,000!” He goes on to tell Rocky that he wasn’t doing nearly enough to be ready for a rematch with Apollo Creed, to whom he’d lost a close decision just a few months earlier. The message Mickey was trying to pound into his pupil’s head was simple. To go along with his rare combination of size, speed, and strength; Apollo now had extra incentive and motive, namely his desire to prove to the world that his beating of Rocky was no fluke. And Mickey knew he had to get Rocky ready.

Now I have to admit that I love the Rocky series. Yes, it’s extremely predictable, full of corny scenes, and far from cinema royalty. But I contend that within it are several messages to embrace, many life lessons to be learned.

And in telling Rocky to get his ass in gear, Mickey reveals to all us of one of the fundamental laws of success. That whatever it is you want to achieve, the price to pay is large. If Rocky wants to win the bout that lies in front of him, he has to train for 10 hours every day, for 10 weeks. Just like a wide receiver has to catch 100 passes so that he can adjust to any pass he might see in a game or a basketball player shoots 100 free throws after every practice so she can relax when forced to make the game-winner.

But what about you and me? How does this apply to us? Like a lot of the lessons I’ve learned through sport, it’s actually pretty simple. The moments we have to stand above the crowd do not come around regularly. In fact, they are few and far between. You may be asked just once or twice to present to your boss and show him your prowess as a professional. Maybe you’re an actor or model and only get a two minute interview or casting call per week. Or maybe the one day you are running late to the office and decide to grab a cup of coffee is the one day you bump into the cutest guy you’ve ever seen. The truth is our lives are filled with moments like these, full of chance meetings and luck encounters. Like the old adage goes, though, lady luck lives at the intersection of preparation and opportunity. And like the train at the station, if we ain’t there, it damn sure ain’t waiting.

So what does this all mean for us? It means we must continue to bust our butts. We must continue to improve ourselves. We must continue to hone our abilities and work on our crafts, whatever our crafts are. And we must do all of this without knowing when we’ll get a chance to use them. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. It might not be this year. It might not even be soon, or as soon as we would like. But it will come.

And you better be ready. Because, again, the train stops for no one. Accept it or not, there is not a huge difference between the achievers and the non-achievers. Sure, some people are given a head start in life, allowed to have some advantages. But the biggest reason winners win is because when the time comes for them to step up and prove themselves, they are ready. They’ve done their homework and are ready to take the test, whenever the test is given. They don’t stop working on and improving themselves when the test is rescheduled. In fact, they prepare even harder so that they are even more ready. They don’t hide behind the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” slogan, then miss the opportunity to impress the one person that could change the course of their life. Instead, they make sure not to leave any stone unturned. They might hope and pray for success, but they go to work, as well; shortening the metaphorical distance between them and their goals even though they don’t know how large the distance is.

The lesson then, courtesy of Rocky’s crabby trainer, can help all of us. And to drive it home one last time, I’ll compare you to a baseball player. You spend hundreds of hours working on your swing and analyzing pitchers. At the end of the day, though, you may only get three or four at-bats per game. In those at-bats, moreover, you may only get one or two “good” pitches to hit. That is not a whole lot of chances for success, not much opportunity for achievement. But that’s the game. And now you know it. So, step your butt into the batter’s box. And when the pitcher throws one of those few pitches your way, send it back over his head to wear it belongs. Over the left field fence!


About bbluford
I am an executive finance professional with a love for process and application development (MS Access, Excel, Quickbooks), mostly as it relates to Accounting and Business Functions. I also love to write and share ideas with other people in this world. I'm an admitted Gym Rat who works out excessively. The best summation of me is that I love to teach and to learn.

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