In the 1976 movie Rocky, there’s a scene where Rocky Balboa and the Lucky Seven bartender are watching Apollo Creed’s interview, when the bartender calls Apollo a clown. Rocky responds by defending Apollo and asks the bartender “when did you ever take a shot in your life?” to which the bartender replies “Shot? What Shot? I have a business to run!”
As I celebrated my 22nd birthday the way no young adult should, in an intensive care unit with an unexplained bacterial infection, I had a lot of time to reflect on life, friends, and the transition out of university into the real world. Especially being in a co-op program, the notion is that you’ve built up enough work experience and have an appropriate degree to transition into an entry-level job somewhere. I also thought of the much-debated question of whether to work or travel once out of school. Ultimately, though, all these thoughts culminated in thinking of examples in my own life that related to the Rocky scene –people I knew who either did or did not take a shot in their lives, and how that impacted the life they now lead.
The movie also sums this idea up pretty well. When Rocky is given a shot at fighting Apollo for the world heavyweight championship, he takes it. And while Rocky doesn’t believe he can beat Apollo, he believes that should he go the distance with the champ, then in the first time in his life he would have accomplished something. On the flipside, Rocky’s friend, Paulie, never takes any shots, never works for anything, and spends his life working in a meat freezer. Need I say more.
Immediately upon my discharge from the hospital, I was offered a very lucrative entry-level job offer that a lot of my classmates would die for. After some consideration, I politely turned down the opportunity. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.
My co-op university program has been nonstop for the last five years. I have accumulated two years of relevant work experience in this time, while growing my network to the point where I am comfortable in its ability to create opportunities. All the work is done. While the realists will disagree with me, I believe now is the most valuable time in a young adult’s life. Ultimately, time is now yours, and risks are minimized more than they will ever be in your lifetime. If you know what you’re passionate about, or want to travel, or want to discover more about yourself, or have an idea that you want to bring to life, why not take your shot? Out of all the people I look up to –my parents, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs- this is their defining quality and why they live such a fulfilling life. They took a shot, and went the distance.
Life is too short to waste on things, people, and experiences you don’t love. As my one mentor says, “you have your entire life to work for an insurance company. Now’s the time to reach for your star.”
So there it is, in real time. Check back with me in a year or two to see if I regretted my decision. I will likely say no, because at that time I hope that both you and I will be closer to realizing our star. Until then, rock on!