When the film, “Rocky Balboa” came out, at least one entire generation of young people were struck silent by speech that Rocky gave to his son.
In the film, the son had been developing a sense of resentment, and maybe entitlement, for some time, and finally unleashed an outburst on his father. In his immortal response, Rocky said things such as:
“Life’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very mean, nasty place and I don’t care who you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let. You, me, no one is going to hit as hard as life – but it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Part of the reason why this message resonated with so many people is that we all know that life has the power to beat us down. All of us suffer and experience setbacks and disappointment. But, the path to greatness is through the fire – a road of total personal accountability.
From time to time, we all “get rid of things.” Maybe you read an article like this one; https://setapp.com/how-to/create-change-and-delete-apple-id-on-your-mac and decided to switch up and pare down your digital tools. Or maybe you finally left a job that’d been stifling you for too long.
The ancient myth of the Phoenix is that of a creature which burns itself to ashes and then rises from the ashes, reborn. You can look at this as a metaphor for growth and self-development – the pursuit of the difficult path that leads up the mountain.
Here are a few reasons why, in life, you have to metaphorically burn off the deadwood, and rise again, and again.
It’s only when you admit that you are not perfect, that you can become better
Burning off the “deadwood” of your own assumptions, behaviors, habits, and expectations, implies at the very least that you know and admit that you are not perfect. This is difficult. Actually, it’s extremely difficult, for many of us.
Our egos naturally want to defend themselves, and admitting – even to ourselves – that we aren’t completely godlike can sometimes be extremely painful, and can seem to collapse our entire sense of self-confidence and self-worth.
In reality, though, if a false sense of grandiosity was keeping you from making actual steps towards the best version of yourself that lies ahead, letting that arrogant impulse burn off can, ironically, be the key factor that lets you grow to new heights, and pursue a legacy and degree of greatness you might never have considered possible before.
In this sense, humility may be a key to growth. Because when you’re too arrogant, you hold yourself in one place, out of the fear that you’re going to make a fool of yourself and be exposed.
If you don’t let little bits of yourself burn off from time to time, you risk going up in flames altogether
Everyone, no matter who they are, and no matter how well they have things put together, is going to do stupid and unproductive stuff from time to time.
We are all human, and part of what that means is that we make mistakes and then have to adjust, compensate for them, and learn for them, in order to become better versions of ourselves, rather than worse ones.
So – there are always going to be little bits of yourself that you need to burn off from time to time. Routines that aren’t serving your best interests at all, and that might actually be dragging you down. Belief systems that may help to give you a degree of comfort and satisfaction in the here and now, but that restricts you from achieving your full potential, over the longer term. Et cetera.
If you burn these bits of deadwood off in time, you’ll experience a bit of discomfort, and then you’ll quickly begin growing, improving, and “rising from the ashes” like a phoenix.
But if you refuse to let those little, negative bits of yourself burn off, you risk going up in flames altogether one day, when you’re more made up of bad habits, actions, and beliefs than good ones.
It probably barely needs to be said – but the firestorm that hits you when you’re in that situation can really take you out, like virtually nothing else. Better to do it the other way.
If you keep bumping up against failure, the solution may be somewhere you haven’t dared to look yet
You know that quote that’s apparently from Einstein? The one that goes “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
Well, there’s an important statement that should go along with that quote. “If you keep bumping up against failure, the solution may be somewhere you haven’t dared to look yet.”
A big part of the reason why we so often keep doing the same unproductive things over and over again, is because they are familiar, which therefore means they are “safe.” On the other hand, really trying something new means putting yourself out there, facing the unknown, and maybe landing up in a bad situation as a result of it.
By allowing the rigid and stubborn part of yourself to take a back seat, so that you can be “reborn” after a failure, may well be what it takes to find a path beyond that plateau you’re stuck on.
Failure and imperfection are inevitable – but the heroic pursuit of improvement is a choice
Once again; failure and imperfection are inevitable. Being a human means getting knocked down – just like Rocky told his son.
It’s not optional that you’re going to be hurt and disappointed from time to time. But it is optional whether or not you’re going to take up the heroic pursuit of self-improvement.
Resentment and self-pity are mostly deadwood. Letting them burn off, and making the choice to improve yourself instead, can be a very powerful thing to do.