My seven-year-old son, Cooper, and I had a Rocky marathon in December and it changed his life.
For Christmas he got a speed bag which he regularly tries to tear out of the wall with his vicious punches. He figured out how to play Eye of the Tiger on the piano with one finger. We walked in one night to find he’d pushed the two couches together, put on his gym shorts, taken off his shirt, and queued up the Rocky theme on the stereo. Guess who was fighting that night?
We all remember being inspired by Rocky, but what hits me after watching the effect he had on Cooper is how important it is to have champions. Rocky was a champion, yes, but how much of that was because he was surrounded by people who were championing him?
Rocky had a coach, a supportive wife, the members of the gym where he worked out, and a crows full of cheering fans (by the end of each movie, anyway). He didn’t do it alone, in other words. People got him fights, went to bat for him when he was on a losing streak, planned workouts, watched out for his health…all of which helped turn him into the champ he was.
When I wrote the story for The Blind Side for WORLD a couple of years ago, I was impressed with the number of people who were integral for Michael Oher’s success: Two loving and generous adoptive parents, loving siblings, Miss Sue his tutor, coaches, teachers, his principal, to name just a few. Without them, more than likely Oher would have never gone on to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and worth millions of dollars.
Throughout history, influential men and women have achieved great things, but they haven’t done it alone. Winston Churchill, William Wilberforce, Ernest Shackleton all had advisers, assistants, financiers, friends, and coworkers who were willing to stand by them when the going got tough. Without these champions in the background, who knows what battles might have been lost, if/when slavery would have been booted out of England, or what lands might have gone unexplored had these men stood alone with only their ideals to keep them company?
As I’ve been finishing up a book I’ve been working on for months, I have been reminded of the many writing champions in my life: The friend who sent some essays to a well-connected writer who then connected me with editors who were willing to read my work based on that recommendation. The coach who helped me work through my fears of publication. My husband who has read more pages than any man should have to. Even my children have been champions, patting me on the back when I’m discouraged, telling me the writing is good when I am about to toss it in the fireplace.
If the likes of Rocky and Winston needed champions, why should any of us play Lone Ranger and try to go it alone?
On second thought, maybe playing Lone Ranger is okay. Even he had Tonto.