It’s The Fight In The Dog.

I love a good Cinderella story.

I’m talking about stories you hear of the guy who perseveres, works ’til he bleeds, and keeps failing until the day he makes it. I love that guy. Gotta tell ya, I have a ton of respect for the kind of person who goes for what they want, and never gives up. That’s a pit bull.

Rocky Balboa is a boxer from gritty ol’ Philadelphia. He’s a knee-breaking collector for a living. When he randomly gets the once in a lifetime chance to fight the Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed, he hesitates, because no one had ever gone the distance with Apollo, plus he’s kind of a low life. But The Rock, despite his fear, decides to go for it; he wakes up at 4:00 am, downs about 15 raw eggs, and jogs the dingy streets in his stinky grey sweats. He pounds raw meat at Paulie’s work – it flattens his knuckles. His gravelly-voiced trainer Mickey barks at him, “Rock, ya gonna eat lightening and crap thunder!!” He gets no respect from the fancy promoter, who got the colors wrong on his shorts for the posters (an actual mistake by the props department). By the time Rocky gets in the ring with The Champ, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s man vs man; they fight for their lives. And in the last brutal round, Rocky can barely see because his face is so mangled, and Adrian runs toward the ring and her beret falls off. And The Italian Stallion actually goes the distance. It’s a split decision, which goes to The Champ. Rocky loses. But Adrian loves him.

Maybe you don’t know this, but the making of Rocky is it’s own rags-to-riches story. Written in three days by Sly Stallone himself, the main inspiration was Chuck Wepner taking on the legendary Muhammad Ali on March 24, 1975. Stallone had $106 to his name. But he believed in his script, and in himself, even though everyone refused to let him play the lead. He pushed, ended up with the role and a measly budget of one million, and they shot the film guerilla style in 28 days. Everyone got Oscar nominations, Rocky won best picture of 1976, and it became one of the most profitable films of all time.

A door opens to me.  I go in and am faced with a hundred closed doors.  ~Antonio Porchia

American baseball legend Babe Ruth. I’m sure if I were a guy, I could easily rattle off his stats off the top of my head. I do know this: In 1923, The Bambino broke the record for most home runs in a season. That same year, he also broke the record for highest batting average. He once held the lifetime home run record of 714, which Hank Aaron broke in 1974. To this day, he’s #3. But the Home Run King held another record: He had 1,330 career strike outs – a record he held for 29 years until it was broken by the great Mickey Mantle. That means in 21 years with Major League Baseball, he struck out 24% of the time. That’s twice the average at the time. Pretty ironic, considering he’s only the greatest player in the history of the game. Not bad for a kid who grew up in a reform school. So what does this tell us? Babe Ruth himself said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” You just can’t get anywhere, friends, if you don’t try. They say The Slugger actually changed the game of baseball and how people enjoyed it by swinging at almost every pitch in an effort to make a home run. That’s passion. And fearlessness.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett

John F Kennedy Jr. Could you have been any hotter? Hot, Hotty, Hot. John-John, the son of JFK and Jackie O, was the pretty much one of the first people whose entire life was chronicled in the media, Truman Show style. There’s the iconic image of him at his father’s funeral, his third birthday, where he famously saluted the flag-draped casket, wearing that little light blue coat. Of course America’s little prince grew up into a full-blown babe on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, playing frisbee in the park and dating Daryl Hannah. He was a lefty, loved acting, and graduated from Brown. Eventually he started the political/celebrity magazine “George”. What could go wrong with such a charmed life? In 1989 John failed the New York State Bar Exam; then he took it again, and failed again. They called him the “Hunk That Flunks”. Hillary Clinton didn’t pass her first time either. Luckily for him, the third time worked out. Somehow all this made him even more irresistible.

Oh Cher. It was 1986, and Cher was a little pissed about her Oscar snub for her turn as Rusty Dennis in Mask. So she showed up in the most ridiculously inappropriate Bob Mackie outfit ever. Lady GaGA ain’t got nothin’ on this woman.Of course she later won an Oscar for playing the widow Loretta Castorini in awesome movie Moonstruck (also starring Nicolas Cage as Ronny Cammareri, my favorite character he ever played). Not only that, she had the number-one tour of all time by a female artist in 2005, holds the record for the longest-spanning career on Billboard’s Top 100, and has sold over 100 million records. Things weren’t always so easy: She spent time in foster care as a kid, was dyslexic, and was way too “ethnic” for the times. But she had pipes, and Sonny Bono made her a star. But after The Sonny And Cher Show ended in 1978, Cherilyn Sarkisian and her career were on a quick slide toward obscurity. She pretty much became a joke, and people openly snickered when they saw her name beside Meryl Streep’s in Silkwood, for which she got her first Oscar nod. How many times can you knock this babe down? Doesn’t matter, she’ll get up every time.

Don’t be discouraged.  It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.  Author Unknown

R.H. Macy failed seven times before his department store in New York City became a success. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Beethoven was called “hopeless”. Van Gogh sold one painting in his life for the equivalent of $50. The Great Gatsby was rejected by 136 publishers.

Fact: Diligent meditation can cure some illnesses. Ask a Buddhist.

Ever heard of Harry Potter? There’s only 400 million books out there. In 1993 J.K. Rowling, from Gloucestershire, England,  was clinically depressed, suicidal, and on welfare after a messy separation. Then on a train one day from Manchester to London, she spent four hours devising her hero in her head, because she had no pen. She later said it was a blessing, because things may have turned out much differently. She typed out the first book Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone on an old typewriter. She says:

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008.

It was rejected by 12 publishers. Fools. Now she’s a billionaire. The Harry Potter brand is now worth an estimated $15 billion. The last 4 books in the series have all set records for being the fastest selling books of all time. They’ve been translated into 65 languages; I can’t even name 65 languages. And according to Wikipedia, she loves The Smiths.

We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Music and Moonlight (1874)

Mark Twain said it best: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Now go be a pit bull.