Are You a “Real Contender” in Life?

We all have heard the stories of those special people that started life at the bottom of the ladder and yet somehow miraculously climbed from the bottom all the way to the top! It’s not only great to hear about those events, but it’s pretty inspirational, too. I mean, we know it’s tough to make it under good circumstances and yet some people overcome what seem to be insurmountable odds and gain such lofty heights despite those disadvantages. So how do they do it? The first thing that all those people do to get into the winner’s circle and become champions is that they have to become “real contenders”.

To succeed in life, you need to become a real contender. Here's more about the mindset to adopt and how it relates to your financial health.

An Example Both Fictional and Real World

If you’re a movie buff, you probably love the ones about the guy or gal who overcomes all the odds. Remember “Rocky” the 1976 film (and then the 1979 and 1982 etc.)?  Currently numbering 7 films in the series, they not only entertain but they really do make you think about an underdog who makes it to the top. Rocky may not be a real character, but the star, Sylvester Stallone is a real life “Rocky” all by himself. After all, he was basically an unknown in Hollywood when he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a film that no one ever expected to be a success, let alone become a historic franchise about good ole’ Rocky Balboa and whose stories have grossed over $1.3 billion dollars worldwide over the past 40 years!

Stallone worked his rear end off against big odds and he became a real contender for the big prize by doing all the right things. Hard work, setting real goals, networking, planning, and re-evaluating plus not taking a lot of no’s for an answer. He believed in himself and no matter what you think about Stallone or the Rocky franchise, there is no denying what it has become. And becoming a contender and then winning the world championship (creating the “Rocky” franchise that is) makes his story so important and so very memorable.

Can Just Anyone Be a Contender?

The amazing thing about being a contender is that anyone who is breathing has the opportunity to contend. The matter is pretty simple. Every day you are alive you make decisions that can either put you on a road to contention or just continue to remain lost and not in the game at all. All that matters is whether or not you consciously choose to follow what is sometimes a difficult path and are willing see it through to completion to reach your goal. It’s not always easy and sometimes a little scary but necessary to get where you want to be. Just ask Sylvester Stallone.

When we wake up in the morning and make choices, it goes a long way in determining what kind of day we will have. Will it be a day of exploration, training, dedication, and expanding our horizons, fully productive, or will be a rest day, a day we take the easy way out and stop along the way and change direction at every breeze that blows by us? We make those choices ourselves and frankly most of the time we chose the path of least resistance and rest (not that we all don’t need rest days sometimes). That’s the reason that there are so few Rocky’s around and so many others who just never contend at all. Instead of going for the championship belt, they sit around and watch others compete, contend, and achieve their dreams and wonder why it isn’t them.

Why Do We Tend to Be So Damned Lazy?

I honestly never quite understood why so many people are content to tread water through life. I know people like that and I’m certain you do, too. You would just assume that at some point living in your comfort zone would become a complete bore and you’d actually want to step outside the lines and find out what life could really be like if you took a few risks, worked hard, and set yourself some real goals. But so many of us allow laziness to take over and we become content with sitting in front of our TV’s and make no attempt at self-improvement. You have to actually break a sweat if you want to be a real contender in life.

Ernest Hemingway, who during his life was a pretty good example of someone who contended and became a champion in his chosen field, once said this:

“There is nothing noble about being superior to your fellow man: True nobility is being superior to your former self!”

The point he was making is that you are here to improve yourself. Improve yourself, your circumstance, and the world itself if you can. And you actually can if you try.

Our Circumstances Are Just a Starting Point

It’s pretty easy to say that there are those among us who are born into terrible situations. For example, those in the so-called “third world” have little food, water, or any creature comforts like we do and often live in a hopeless situation. Despite that condition, many of those people overcome the odds and make a good life for themselves and even others, too, with a big effort. Their misfortune is that they were born into those circumstance and our fortune is having been born into our circumstances. We must realize that we are no better than they are and that being so fortunate doesn’t mean that we don’t have to make any effort to improve life because we just don’t have to work as nearly as hard as they do every day just to survive. It doesn’t take much to understand our responsibility in life is to try and improve ourselves and the world in some way, no matter what our original circumstances may have been.

Is Building Your Financial Wealth One of Your Goals in Life?

You may want to build yourself up and be a wealthy person and many of us spend all of our waking time doing just that. But if you stop and think about it, you can get there and you can also lose your wealth in a heartbeat, too. Easy come and easy go, as some say. There are wars, natural disasters, people die, and people make really bad money decisions and more. But if you develop goals like improving yourself and not just your finances, you can recover from anything that is a roadblock in your life. If we all spent each day concentrating on our own individual self-improvement potential, the financial goals you set will come to fulfill the financial goals you need and the world would be a much better place to live in.

Achieving Personal Goals is Not a Bad Thing!

Let me make this clear. Having the desire to pursue financial wealth isn’t a bad thing. However, to be a real contender in anything, you must develop the skills and abilities necessary to compete with those who are already at the top. But being an entrepreneurial champion isn’t solely dependent on being a quick thinker. You must be a leader, too.

Developing your leadership skills makes you an example to be followed. The skills you develop and build with “sweat equity” are meant to be shared with other people, hence the expression “pay it forward”. Others can learn by your example and when you lead you can achieve all of the goals you seek and not only master them, but you learn to master yourself as well.

If you are to become a real contender and an eventual champion, then you need to develop a better understanding of the world and more importantly of yourself and you need to share it. Once you establish your goals and begin to step out of your comfort zone and stop being lazy or contented, you can start the process of sweat and tears that is the requirement to achieve the goals that you want in your life.


One thing I have learned from my own life is this: no matter what, achieving your goals and living a life of excellence and improvement always takes sweat and tears and that’s something that will just never change. But it is worth every drop of sweat and every tear when you become a champion.

Where are you in the quest to be a “real contender”? In your life, do you dream big and act on it? Or are you “blowing in whatever direction the wind blows”? What advice can you give to others from your experiences that will help them contend and get on their road to being a champion, making life better for themselves, and for those around them?

17 Comments

  1. As much as I hate to admit it, Tom Brady falls into this category. (NY Giants fan) Look at his backstory, he worked his tail off to achieve what he has.

    You can’t beat hard work, effort, and determination. It’s something I’ve talked with my three children about, always giving their best in everything they do.

      1. He’s great, but also had some super big help from the refs to make him what he is. Rules literally changed for that man. I prefer role models who are great in spite of not because of.

        Obviously not a New England fan. 😛

        I like the bootstraps philosophy. It’s what my husband and I have done. But I also think we have to be careful as there are a lot more obstacles in some people’s lives than others and that we all define success differently. Maybe those people sitting in apparent mediocrity have an awesome family life and just don’t give a darn about finances. Or maybe they’ve worked hard and haven’t met a juncture of opportunity. Both can happen, and, in my humble opinion, don’t mean that they’re necessarily lazy.

        1. Thank you so much Femme Frugality. You said just exactly what I wanted to say. I don’t believe all poor people are there because they want to be. They work hard but they can’t manage to get out of that cycle.
          So many people that have “made” it are not happy. To me life isn’t just about money and how far you can go to the top. I put my family and God anyday before a fistful of money!

          1. Making it is not just about your finances, you are right. There are numerous examples of wealthy people who are just plain miserable. I do believe, however, that no matter what your circumstance, trying to achieve whatever your goals are should be a major focus. Putting in extra effort when necessary can make a big difference, not only in finances but in your personal happiness as well.

        2. FF, I agree that we don’t all start in the same place and we define success differently. I just feel it is important no matter what your circumstances are to work as diligently as you are able in order to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. I don’t think lazy is necessarily about results, it’s more about those who have advantages and rely on those alone.

  2. Steveark

    I always felt like a contender and in fact I achieved every career goal I set. I achieved more financial success than I hoped to or needed and retired earlier than I thought I would. My life is pretty full with interesting part time well paid side gigs and volunteer work. But I do miss sometimes how it felt when I was killing it and competing to win the prize. I’ve already won and am wondering if I need to just enjoy where I am or find another big battle to fight? Ditto on Tom Brady, I’d like to dislike him but darn, he’s really good and really got there the right way. He’s just always beating my teams!

    1. First, I’d like to say congrats for having accomplished your career goals. Even in retirement, I wouldn’t necessarily just sit back on my laurels. You’re the kind of guy who has something to offer as an example to others and you can and should. It will probably feel just as good as it did when you were working. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I love this article!!! The only thing missing was the ability to play the Rocky soundtrack while reading through this post. Don’t worry I popped up another tab so I could jump on Youtube and listen 🙂

    Great article and definitely one of my favorites that you’ve written!!!

  4. I really liked doing the quiz at https://movingupusa.com/ that quantifies approximately how far the starting line we each start from. It’s great perspective on how far we can get away from where we started, but also acknowledges the impact of where your starting line is on your journey.

    I had always been a bit of a cage fighter mentality in pushing my career forward – I would do everything it took from double overtime for weeks and months to taking over management duties that were being neglected by incompetent managers in order to gain the skills and experience I needed to tackle even bigger mountains. Now I’m pausing at the top of one of my peaks to enjoy the view for a while.

  5. Awesome post. I agree with you, Gary…Yes of course if we believe on our self’s and focus on the goal then we’ll achieve many things. Each and every person is a real contender in the present competitive world. If we have a clear picture about the subject means what we are doing and if we have a full grip on that then obviously we will be the best competitor to the opposite person. Finally, every person needs a coach in their life at any situations our soul is our best coach.

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