Overcoming Obstacles

4 Ways an Entrepreneur Can Beat the Odds like Rocky Protege Adonis Creed

Creed's first fight with his nemesis Viktor Drago provides real lessons for business owners.
4 Ways an Entrepreneur Can Beat the Odds like Rocky Protege Adonis Creed
Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
Guest Writer
Founder of The Digital Wonder Woman
5 min read
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It's been over four decades since audiences were introduced to the "Italian Stallion," Rocky Balboa.

Since 1976, loyal audiences have followed the hard knock life of this fictional embattled hero, while new audiences discover the series as it continues to reinvent and evolve. With eight movies in the saga, Rocky IV is the backstory for Creed II.

Related: The Big Lesson Business Owners Can Learn From Rocky Balboa

In the fourth installment, former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who loses the belt to Rocky in version two, comes out of retirement for an exhibition match against the taller, bigger, stronger, Russian-trained, Ivan Drago. Creed dies in the match. Later, Rocky picks up the gloves, fights Drago and wins. Thirty-three years later, Ivan Drago returns to avenge his decades-old loss, which sets the stage for Creed vs. Drago, kid edition.

For two hours and 10 minutes, Adonis Creed, son of former heavyweight champion Apollo, manages life and its disappointments as he prepares to fight the son of his father's killer, Viktor Drago.

The title match comes too soon in the movie for the big audience payoff, but this preliminary fight is the catalyst for the real lessons. Creed fights. Creed loses. This is where entrepreneurs can pick up the story to create their own knockouts and beat the odds in business.

Do the inside work and prepare.

Creed is broken after the first fight with Drago. He's mentality in a place where loved ones can't reach him. Though he reigns as the current heavyweight champion, he chooses to fight an opponent he's never seen without proper preparation. After the loss, he takes time to work on himself and make the next decision with his whole self versus his ego.

As an entrepreneur, have you ever forged ahead with challenges without proper training and guidance? Did you face setbacks? Did you take a few personal days? You have to do the internal work, the mindset work because your whole person comes into your business. If your head is not in a good place, your decisions won't be. How fast you deal and bounce back from internal conflict is a sure sign as to whether you'll be standing at the end of each round.

Related: 10 Movies Every Entrepreneur Needs to Watch

Have the right people in your corner.

Because Rocky refused to train Creed for the first Drago match-up, Creed sought a new trainer. While the new trainer did a good job of training Creed at his current level, he could not give Creed the guidance he needed to level up. Rocky later explains to Creed his natural fighting style was no match for this new opponent. Creed needed to do something different to face this new challenge.

This is a good illustration of a strategist versus a stylist or knowledge and experience versus good-at-the-job, but not tested.

There a place for both types of mentors. Your job is to figure out what type of guidance is needed at what stage in your business. In the end, both mentors were able to lead Creed to victory. Choose mentors who provide a road map, but who also give you the space to succeed in your way. Who you have in your corner matters.

Know your value.

When Creed accepts the second fight, he does so in spite of almost losing his life in the first one. He does so after learning his newborn daughter can't hear. He believes his legacy is worth the risk and he believes he can beat Drago and ultimately, he does. The story of Rocky and Creed is the hero's journey you've seen many times. It's the story of people who are called to adventure and who triumph over adversity. The transformation doesn't come easy and it usually comes with high stakes.

You have to know what you're made of. Raw talent is not enough. To make it as an entrepreneur, your value is constantly tested. External factors constantly have you on the ropes. When you remember why you're in business and you are relentless, change happens. 

Related: 7 Lessons From the Boxing Ring

Have a story to tell.

Promoter Buddy Marcelle tells Creed early in the movie, "The belt is not enough, you need a narrative that sticks to the ribs."

What's your story? Where do you come from? Why do you do what you do? Think beyond the rags to riches or overnight success stories. Use your experiences to create narratives to make people sit up, take notice and champion you. Once you give people a reason to care, they become invested and help make your brand memorable.

Your life as an entrepreneur probably won't be as predictable as a movie script, but if you show up, do the work, reinvent and evolve as needed, audiences will stand and cheer for you, too, and you'll come out a winner.

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