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Would you sell your dog?

Would you sell your dog?

By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

Belief. It’s one of the most important ingredients for success. Athlete, executive, coach, actor, clergy… you name it. It doesn’t differ by profession or pursuit. You must BELIEVE. In yourself. In your talents. In your team.

It’s easy to BELIEVE when things are going well. Not so easy when there’s trouble. There you are, staring at adversity, feeling alone. Man, your belief is really tested. And that’s when you need it most. Some of you know this because you have lived it already. For others, it may be just around the bend.

How is your BELIEF right now? Your confidence? Your swagger?

One of the greatest stories of BELIEF comes from Sylvester Stallone. His story really is amazing.

Sylvester Stallone was a starving actor and screenwriter in New York City in the early 1970s. He had many, many auditions, and most of them ended in rejection.  Eventually, Stallone ran out of money, and found himself in a desperate situation that just kept getting worse.

And on the evening of March 24, 1975, Stallone was watching a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and a boxer named Chuck Wepner. Wepner was getting slaughtered, but he wouldn’t go down. He kept fighting back. Stallone kept watching as this guy got beat on by Ali, and still refused to quit.

It was that fight, on that night, that inspired Stallone to sit down, start writing and continue writing for more than 24 hours straight, without taking a break. Almost without pause, he completed the script to Rocky.

Now, this is where the story gets real good.

Stallone tried to sell his script, and again, he got nothing but rejections.

By this time, he was so poor that he ended up having to sell his best friend, his dog, just for money to buy food. Devastated, and not a lot richer because he only got $50, he kept trying to sell the script.

Finally, someone loved the script and offered him $100,000. For a starving and desperate man in the 1970s, that’s a lot of money. But he declined. Part of the deal Stallone wanted was that he, Sylvester Stallone, had to play Rocky Balboa in the movie. That wasn’t part of the offer, so Stallone said, “Thank you… but no thank you.”

A few weeks later, another offer came in even higher. Same story. They didn’t want Stallone, since he wasn’t a proven actor.” Stallone said, “Thank you… but no thank you.”

The offers kept rising until eventually they peaked at nearly $400,000. And he declined again and again.

Now think about this. The guy is poor, so poor he was forced to sell his dog. He wondered where his next meal would come from. But he was holding out until someone offered him the chance to play the lead role in his movie.

Finally, Stallone accepted an offer. Payment of $25,000 for the screenplay and the chance to be Rocky. Yes, that was it – $25K. One sixteenth of the largest offer, but Sly BELIEVED in his script, in himself, and in the potential he saw. He took the lower offer because it gave him the chance he was looking for.

Remember, as the saying goes, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”

Now check this out. The first thing he did after receiving his $25,000, was to go back to the person who bought his dog and try to buy him back. It ended up costing him a whopping $15,000, and a part in the movie to close the deal. The temporary owner and the dog were both in Rocky. For those of you who remember “Butkus,” that was Sly’s infamous dog – bought and sold because of Stallone’s financial trials and tribulations.

Amazing story. Amazing power of BELIEF.

We all know what happens in the Rocky movie. It remains one of my favorite movies of ALL-TIME. As a matter of fact, for any of you who have ever trained at Fitness Quest 10 or taken a class with me at a fitness conference, there is a very good chance you have heard  “Eye of the Tiger,” “Burning Heart,” “Hearts on Fire,” “No Easy Way Out,” or “Gonna Fly Now.” I love those songs!

The first Rocky won an Academy Award in 1976. At the awards ceremony, Stallone read aloud all the rejection slips for those who said his film wouldn’t work. Those rejections fueled his fire for years when no one else BELIEVED in him.

The story of Sylvester Stallone is a story of triumph. Of persistence. Of hard work. And BELIEF.

So, how about YOU? What about your BELIEFS? What are you working on to create massive success and lasting legacy? Would you go so far to “sell your dog” because you BELIEVED you would someday succeed and be able to buy him back?

I guess that’s the real test. How far would you go when you believe in yourself and your idea? Sly sold his dog. Others sell their cars and mortgage their homes. Some quit their “day” jobs on nothing more than BELIEF. Could you really do it? Could you really believe like this? What about when everyone around you said, “No… it’s impossible. It will never work.” How far would you go?

No matter what, who or how many – no matter the adversity, the disbelievers or the naysayers, keep believing. Find a way to achieve the dream in your heart. Because it is true, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”

And that is BELIEF!!!

Peace and love,



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