What is it you will fight for? What is it I will fight for? I have been reflecting this week on what is the difference between the people who achieve an incredible level of health, happiness, abundance and success, and those who don’t. I have said it many times before, is definitely not talent, intellect, age, experience, money, luck or circumstances, as many people think it is. Okay then, what is it? It is what we are prepared to fight for. In the words of Russell Crowe, playing the boxer James J. Braddock, in the movie ‘Cinderella Man,’ it is milk!
This movie is my all-time favourite movie, and after a great night out with two inspiring friends this week, the movie came up in conversation, and we started talking about a specific scene, which I love. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would absolutely encourage you to watch it, but as some context, I will give you a little background to the scene in question. The movie is based on a true story of the life, the struggles and ultimately the unlikely and inspiring success of boxer James J. Braddock. The movie is set in New York and New Jersey in the 1920’s and 1930’s, right at the time of the Great Depression.
Before the depression, James (Jim) Braddock, was an up-and-coming boxing hopeful, who had never been knocked out. His wins were mounting, his status was growing and his prospects for becoming the heavyweight champion of the world were improving. Then the Great Depression hit. He suffered injuries, he lost a lot of money and he, his wife and his three children found themselves living in a hovel, barely scraping enough money together to survive. After an embarrassing fight, where he re-broke his hand and the fight was called due to the crowd unrest, Jim’s license was revoked by the boxing commission. In other words, he couldn’t fight professionally anymore.
From that point, things really spiralled. Jim and his wife Mae couldn’t pay the rent and couldn’t even pay for milk. In fact, it got so bad that Mae had to farm the kids out to extended family because they couldn’t keep them healthy. Jim ended up working on the docks, borrowing money from friends and even lining up for financial support from the government, all to get the kids back. Then, out of the blue, an opportunity to fight in a one-off professional bout came up and Jim jumped at it. He was old, injured and a rank outsider, but somehow, he miraculously won the fight. This started a run of wins that led to a fight that would make him the number one contender for the heavyweight championship.
It was a tough fight, and he was getting beaten badly. At one stage, a powerful punch to his face, knocked his mouthguard out and sent him reeling. As he stumbled to get his mouthguard, with blood dripping from his face, he reflected on the things he had experienced over the past few painful years; the lack of money, the sick children, the empty beds after they had been farmed out and the empty milk bottle with the note ‘past due’ on it. He picked up his mouthguard, put it back into his mouth, looked at his opponent and smiled, with a smile that said, ‘I am here, and you are going down.’ Jim went on to win the bout and set himself up for a shot at the world title.
I know this is a long-winded story, but it’s worth it, trust me! At the press conference before the title fight, one of the reporters asked Jim a question that was on many people’s minds. He asked, ‘Hey Jim, how do you explain your comeback? You couldn’t win a fight for love-or-money. How did you turn it around to be here?’ Jim replied, ‘Well, I had a run of bad luck, I was injured and was fortunately able to overcome my injury and get back into some form. And now, most importantly, I know what I am fighting for.’ The reporter asked, ‘Yeah, what’s that Jim?’ Jim looked at him, looked at his wife and said, ‘Milk!’
My question to you, as you read this, is, do you understand the significance of that statement? Jim went on to defy overwhelming odds to win the heavyweight championship of the world. Why? Because he knew what we was truly fighting for. It wasn’t fame, it wasn’t money and it wasn’t a nice house or car. He was fighting for his family and being able to give them milk, provide them with food, and keep them healthy and safe. This, my friends, is the secret to achieving anything you want. You need to know, deep in your heart what you are fighting for.
What are you aspiring to at the moment? What are you working towards? What are you struggling with? I know for me, when the goal was superficial, I struggled. When I worked for money and status only, I couldn’t gain momentum. When I trained my body for validation and recognition, I found it difficult. When I was not clear on what I was fighting for, I found it hard to stay focused, avoid distraction and persist when things became challenging. When I identified what I was really fighting for, the rest just seemed to fall into place. The worked wasn’t a chore, the mistakes became lessons, and the challenges became opportunities.
In this week’s podcast, ‘You get what you expect,’ with Carol Cooke, you will hear the incredible story of a fighter who overcame 42 years, four sports and the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis to finally fulfill a dream she was fighting for. She was a 9 year old with the dream of being an Olympian for Canada and it was finally fulfilled at 51 years of age when she was selected in the 2012 Para-Olympics to represent Australia. She has gone on to win three gold medals in 2012 and 2016 and is on the verge of her fourth gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Games. At the age of 60, the dream is still alive and the fight still inside her.
My question for you is, what is your milk? What will move you to defy the odds and do what you have been unable to do to this moment? Success, in any area, is not as complicated or difficult as most people make it out to be. It will take focus, it will take effort and it will require perspective and resilience, but it will not be a chore or a hardship if you know what your milk is. So please, spend some time reflecting, thinking and asking yourself the right questions, and then, start fighting for your milk!