I believe I can say, without refute, that Rocky IV was one of the greatest historical documentaries of all time regarding the Cold War conflict. However, today let us discuss its prequel, Rocky III, wherein we observed the case of Clubber Lang. As is typical of my style, my intent today is to vilify the hero and make a hero of the villain.
He doesn't make it easy
For my readers who are either too young to remember Rocky III or not awesome enough to have watched it, the movie takes place after Rocky has taken the heavyweight title and, with it, the resounding fame, fortune and love. His face is on pinball machines, lunchboxes, and postage stamps, he is in advertisements, he poses for autographs, and in general is the center of much praise. We observe that Rocky is receiving the reward for his hard work.
But where, during this time, is Clubber Lang? In a dungeon of a gym, with rusted and torn up equipment, hammering away on himself and anyone in his path. He toils relentlessly, singularly focused on one goal; to beat Rocky Balboa. He lives it, breathes it, eats it, sleeps it. He pushes himself to the point of breaking, because he knows that’s what it’s going to take to win.
Wait...who is the star of this movie again?
Ask yourself this though, dear reader; during this training, do we ever see Clubber Lang bragging to anyone about his accomplishments? Is there a scene where, after completing 30 pull ups off of some rebar, Mr. Lang takes a photo of himself to share to the world? Do we see him calling his friends and family to tell them what an awesome training session he had? Are there high fives all around with his crew for every single accomplishment he achieves?
And when the time comes, in their initial match-up, who fares better, Rocky or Clubber? Why? Because Rocky already GOT his reward. He was absolved of the onus to work any harder, because he already had all the praise and glory that came with his work. Clubber Lang, on the other hand, had yet to receive his reward, so he went out and took it. And he did so violently, with murderous intent and unbridled furiousity (which apparently isn’t a word, but I’m using it). As Jack Dempsey spoke of, he went out there with “bad intentions”.
And Jack might know something about bad intentions
THIS is the lesson young trainees NEED to understand; you only get your reward once. With the social media explosion we have today, EVERYONE wants their reward, and they want it now. For every insignificant accomplishment everyone “achieves”, they have to share it with the world and accumulate likes and thumbs up and retweets and whatever other insanity is perpetuated online. However, this doesn’t boost your self-esteem; it dilutes the quality OF your accomplishments. When you start getting praise for small things, there is zero need for you to accomplish anything greater.
Clubber Lang refused to seek out validation for his training because that defeated the point. He didn’t want to be the baddest man in the gym; he wanted to be the baddest man in the world. He wanted to put everything on the line, and make it so that the only time any of his effort was worth it was when he took the heavyweight title. Can you fathom the pressure? Can you imagine training hours on end, day after day, months at a stretch, losing friends and family, bleeding in training, going insane from isolation…and then losing? For all of that to be worth NOTHING? When we put the reward for our actions at the end of the journey instead of along the way, we CREATE that pressure, and in doing so provide the fuel necessary to achieve something significant.
It's amazing what you can do under the right pressure
Rocky already GOT his reward. The public swooned over every action that he took. The man literally stopped in the middle of training to take a photo with the adoring public that was spectating his training. Are those the actions of a man looking to win? Are those the actions of a desperate man, whose only source of happiness comes from victory, or is it instead the act of one who is complacent, fat, slovenly, and happy?
If you already GOT your reward, you don’t deserve another one. That’s just plain greedy. You have to decide when you want to get your reward. If you’re posting every meal, every set, every workout, every PR, etc etc, then that’s when you get your reward. If you slave away by yourself, putting in the work, keeping your nose to the grindstone, refusing to share with the world, etc, then when the time comes to perform you get to put that ALL on the line. I assure you, the one who hasn’t gotten their reward yet is going to fight much harder than then one who has.
Sometimes it's worth holding out for a better reward
And if I may, let us address the insanity of competitors sharing their success in training online. What manner of insanity IS this? In war, would you share with your enemy your strategy? Your troop numbers? Supply info? ANY intel? Then why would you share this with your competition? Why would you want them to know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are? It used to be, back in the day, athletes would try to HIDE their info from the opposition as best they could. Hell, people got in trouble in the NFL for filming the practice of another team so that their team could learn from it and get better. Now we have competitors just GIVING it away. What is this madness? All so that you can get some likes on facebook?
If given the choice, I’d rather knock out Rocky than have 13 people like a video of me doing chin-ups on facebook…but maybe that’s just me.