If you have been reading these Tips for long, you know that I am a huge fan of the Rocky movies, starring Sylvester Stallone. Six different Rocky movies were produced with Rocky Balboa being the final one. (More recently, the two Creed movies carry on the same theme of failure and success.) Each film is very interesting and Stallone’s portrayal of the character so memorable that I have sometimes forgotten that Rocky was simply a fictitious character created for the movies. One day I even caught myself thinking, “Was Muhammad Ali the heavy-weight champion before Rocky Balboa or after him?!” It just goes to show you how the human mind works; we can see something so many times that it becomes real to us.
I was recently watching an anniversary edition DVD of the movie, Rocky, in which Sylvester Stallone was being interviewed about how his memorable character came into being. He explained that he wrote the first script at a particularly difficult time in his life. He had no job, no money and the only acting he was doing was small parts as a gangster or playing an “extra” in a movie. His life and career were going nowhere. But, he had a dream in his heart and he was not willing to give up. He believed he could make it as an actor if he did not quit. He was always looking for an opportunity. You might say he was hungry!
One day, when Stallone was leaving a movie set, he mentioned to one of the producers that he had written a story about a boxer. The producer said, “Well, that sounds pretty interesting. Drop it off and I’ll take a look at it.” A few days later he dropped off the script and although it was in rough form, those who read it enjoyed it very much. He soon received an offer of $25,000.00 from the producer to buy it. That was a lot of money, especially to someone who was “broke” and often slept in his car. The only meaningful thing that he had in his life at that time was his dog, Butkus. He would feed his dog, even when he couldn’t feed himself. So, an offer of that much money seemed like a fortune to him.
In his discussion with the producers, Stallone mentioned that he wanted to play the part of Rocky. They laughed and told him that would be impossible. They already had in mind four possibilities: Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, and James Caan, all of whom were stars at the top of their movie careers at the time. Although Stallone knew of those actors, he told them that he still thought he would be the best one to play the part. He was told they would think about it and get back to him.
When they called few days later, their offer was $100,000.00! Again Stallone turned them down, insisting that he play the part of Rocky.
The next call came with an offer of $150,000.00. He turned it down. Then $170,000.00 and again he refused the offer. Then $250,000.00 – a quarter of a million dollars! Even though he knew what a difference that much money could make in his life, he had a dream and he was looking for an opportunity. This was not it, so once more he turned down their offer.
In a few days, the offer jumped significantly – $330,000.00. In the interview Stallone said that at the time he couldn’t even count that high and that he couldn’t imagine seeing that much money! But, the lengthy discussion ended when he again told them that the sale was contingent upon his playing the lead role.
At their subsequent offer, he almost gave in. It was for $360,000.00. He said the only problem was, if the movie and the story he had written about Rocky turned out to be a success, he would never be able to live with himself, knowing that he had given up on his dream and the opportunity that he desired so intensely. “No,” was his answer.
A week later, they called him and asked him to come in for an interview. When he came in and sat down, they told him they would make him one last offer and he could be assured that this would be their final offer. They offered Sylvester Stallone the grand total of – zero, nada, nothing. They told him all previous offers to purchase his script were off the table, but they would allow him to play the lead role. He almost jumped out of his skin!! This was the opportunity for which he had been waiting!
So, Sylvester Stallone played the part of Rocky Balboa in the first Rocky movie for free, and the rest as they say, “is history.” Though he made absolutely nothing for his script, his career was launched and his life has never been the same. Neither has ours. The movie, theme song and many of the other characters have become part of our culture all because one man was looking for an opportunity.
What are you looking for in your life? Do you simply get up every day and deal with life as it comes or are you trying to make a difference in your life, your family, you company, or your business? Do you have secret dreams and visions and goals that you want to accomplish? Are you trying to live life in a proactive manner, making it better for yourself and others, or are you simply doing just enough to get by each day, hoping for enough energy to crawl into bed at night? I don’t know about you, but I find this thing called life to be an interesting experience. It may be crazy to live with dreams and hopes and visions, but to live without them is madness!
Take a lesson from Sylvester Stallone and his character, Rocky Balboa; stick with your dreams. Look for opportunities and do not give up until you have accomplished what you believe is the reason for which you were created. Everything in life is better when you are living your dream and fulfilling your destiny. I trust, hope and pray that is your attitude toward life – not only this week, but forever!
Da da toda da toda da da da da! (To the sound of ROCKY!)
Tip: Look for an opportunity!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm