I really, really enjoyed the first Creed movie. Seeing a continuation of the Rocky movies and a new hero emerge was epic. It was poetic, even.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) was aging. He couldn’t fight like he used to. He didn’t want to fight anymore.
Enter Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan). The last name might not sound familiar to Rocky fans but we soon discover Johnson isn’t a Johnson. He is a Creed.
This revelation brings about all sorts of craziness. Creed fights “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) and loses but won the night.
He now returns in Creed II to a bigger threat. One that could end his career… or worse.
Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) is a rising boxing star in Russia. And, if the last name of Drago sounds familiar, it should be. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is the one who put Creed’s father in the grave. Now Drago’s son is gunning for Creed.
There’s so much going on in Creed II. It’s more than a boxing movie. It is a life movie.
More than that… It’s a Reel Leadership movie. Creed II is full of leadership lessons anyone paying attention can pull out.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Creed II
1. Loss isn’t permanent:
Creed lost his big fight. He went down in defeat. Like any good boxer, Creed didn’t stay down. He got back up.
His loss was temporary. There was no permanence to his loss.
He knew he couldn’t stay down forever. He had to get back up and fight.
We all lose. We lose customers, friends, coworkers, and team members.
Loss is painful. It will lie to you and tell you that you did something wrong. It will also tell you to stay down on the mat. Don’t get up.
You cannot listen to the lies loss tells you. You have to get back up.
Don’t let your loss be permanent. Get back up and lead another day.
2. Bianca (Tessa Thompson):
It’s just another fight.
Bianca had the right attitude about boxing. Each fight was just another fight.
Creed, on the other hand, got wound up. He felt each fight was something more. It was a chance to prove himself again and again.
I think Bianca had the right mindset. She knew a fight was a fight. A loss, a loss. A win, a win. Life would continue.
This is the mindset leaders have to have. We have to be willing to take a loss. We have to be willing to take a win. And then we have to be willing to move forward.
3. Rocky Balboa:
Are you here to prove something to other people or to yourself?
Creed had a lot to live up to. His father had been a champion boxer. This continued to weigh heavily on Creed.
Rocky saw this. He saw Creed may have been trying to do more than prove something to himself. He saw Creed trying to prove something to the crowds.
This was dangerous territory Creed was heading into. When he shifted what gave him value to those watching him box, he created a black hole he could have fallen into.
Leaders have to be cautious of trying to prove themselves to everyone and anyone. Leaders don’t have to prove themselves to others. What they need to do is prove it to themselves.
We can get off course because we begin to focus on what will make others think we are leaders. This isn’t the right mindset. We have to prove to ourselves that we’re leaders. Then we can lead others.
4. Find what clears your mind:
Creed went to the gym. There, he was hitting the punching bag.
He didn’t do this to train. He went there to clear his mind and blow off steam.
For him, hitting something was a release.
What’s your release? What helps you to clear your mind?
Leaders have to find a way to release all of the mental pressure they carry on a regular basis. If you don’t, you’re going to burn out.
5. Others will see things before you:
Bianca and Creed went to see his mother, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad). They had gone to tell her they were engaged. Mary Anne saw something they didn’t know.
She surprised them when she said she knew what they were there to tell her. She knew they were pregnant.
Talk about a shocker to Bianca and Creed. They didn’t even know they were pregnant.
A pregnancy test later and it was confirmed. They were going to be parents.
As a leader, we aren’t on the ground floor. We’re getting the mile-high view. We also miss seeing things right in front of us.
Listen to those you lead. They’re on the floor, doing the hard work. They’re also seeing things you’re missing.
Your team members need to be your eyes and ears. When you listen, they will help you see what’s going on.
6. Leaders often don’t feel like leaders:
Creed didn’t feel like a world champ. He felt like he was a pretender. Like there was something more he needed to do or prove.
Know who also didn’t feel like a world champ? His father, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Apollo never felt like the world champ. Rocky confirmed this.
Leaders, it’s okay if you don’t feel like a leader. Many of us go through long periods of doubt. We question whether or not we truly carry influence with others.
You can doubt or not feel like you’re a leader. What you cannot do is give in to the doubt.
Your feelings will mess with you, man. Put them in check. Tell yourself everyone feels like they don’t belong. Then get back out there.
7. Leaders fight through pain:
Drago and Creed met in the squared circle. Creed went out punching. Then he got caught in Drago’s fury.
Drago began to pummel Creed. He sent punch after punch into Creed’s rib cage. It appears Drago broke Creed’s ribs.
Creed didn’t let this stop him from getting back up. He felt pain. He felt agony. And he knew he had to get back up again.
Leaders have to fight through the pain, as well. Leadership pain is different. Leaders will feel alone, broken, sad, and angry.
You can’t let the pain you’re feeling stop you from leading. There are people who are counting on you.
The pain you’re feeling will be temporary. Keep fighting.
8. Great leaders apologize for their mistakes:
Rocky had chosen not to be in Creed’s corner during the Drago fight. He thought it was too risky.
Because of this, Creed was badly injured. He almost died, like his father. Had Rocky been there, he could have thrown in the towel.
Rocky knew this was a mistake. He went to Bianca and apologized for not being in Creed’s corner. He needed her to know he was sorry.
Great leaders don’t let their mistakes slip by. They recognize when they’ve been wrong and they apologize to those they’ve hurt.
Be ready and willing to apologize. Your team needs to know you’re sorry when you make a mistake. They also need to know you’re human, like them.
9. Mary Anne Creed:
He’s gotta heal from the inside out.
Creed was battered on the outside. Worse, he was broken and bruised on the inside. His mother recognized this.
She knew Creed’s healing process was going to take time. He had physical and mental wounds to heal.
Leaders, you’re going to face brutal betrayals, despairing failures, and mental anguish. Your pain will not come from the outside. Your pain will come from the inside.
Be ready to work on your inner self.
Your healing will be internal. Your struggles will be internal.
You can make it. You can heal.
10. Rocky Balboa:
You gotta ask yourself what is the valuable stuff.
Rocky had championships and wins under his belt. He knew what it felt like to be a champion. He also knew there were more valuable things than titles and championships.
All of the things Rocky had earned in life would fade away. Even the memory of his title wins. What would remain were the things he did right in life.
You have to figure out what are the valuable things in your life.
Many leaders will chase after the wrong things. They will give up their family for more business success. Or they will chase down the next business deal at the expense of a business relationship.
You have to know what the valuable things are in your life. Chase after them.
11. You may have to change your leadership style:
Creed had his own boxing style. When he went against Drago, his style didn’t work. It allowed him to be trounced.
Rocky saw this. He encouraged Creed to change his style. To look for something that would work against Drago.
We all have our own leadership styles. You probably know your Strengthsfinder results, Myer-Briggs personality type, and whatever the latest fad is.
It’s all well and good to know how you are naturally wired. However, you will have to be ready and willing to adapt your personality and strengths to suit the situation in front of you.
You have to be willing to work within the environment you’re a part of. If you don’t, you’re going to get knocked out.
The violent chess match continues.
Drago and Creed had a rematch. The announcer saw it for what it was. Their rematch was a violent chess match.
Each boxer was trying to predict what the other would do. They had to think multiple punches ahead.
Leadership is like this. Leadership is a chess game.
As a leader, you have to think multiple steps ahead. Mark Miller had a great book that talks about this.
Be ready to play the long game. Think ahead. Get ahead. And make your move.
13. Rocky Balboa:
It’s your time.
Creed won his match against Drago. He asked Rocky to come into the ring. Rocky declined.
Rocky knew his time had passed. Instead, it was time for Creed to shine.
Great leaders know when to pass the torch. They know they have to pass the glory as well.
Know when your time as a leader is up. Be willing to pass the leadership baton to the next leader in your organization.