Be Better, Do Better
One of the greatest moments of sports movie history is when boxing neophyte Rocky Balboa, in Rocky II, after taking an unbelievable beating from Apollo Creed, gets off the mat with a supreme act of will to defeat the current world champion by a knockout and is given the microphone. He humbly thanks his opponent, his trainer, his wife, and his team before he proclaims, “Yo, Adrian, I did it!” This affirms that his herculean efforts to win were not his alone but the result of committed training and the hard work of his team. Who can forget his runs through the neighborhoods to the top to the plaza steps in Philly? It gives me chills just to think about it. Rocky embodied the concept of Be Better, Do Better.
When Rocky’s story began, he was a third-rate local boxer with bad habits – smoking, drinking – and limited career opportunities. He made a living being “muscle” for the local loan sharks who mostly collected gambling debts. He saw himself as “just another bum.” However, fortune in the guise of a mousey girl, Adrian, and trainer, Mick, who saw his inner strength and love of life, came to Rocky, and he embraced the opportunity. He imagined a better future and prepared for it with determination and expert guidance. He won a fight to become the heavyweight champion of the world by “becoming” a better person.
School is about challenging you to Be Better, to dig down and use your inner resources and the support of your mentors to Do Better, as Rocky did. This is a formula for success; if you work hard to become a strong, moral, more determined person and are open to your teachers’ instruction and mentorship, good results will follow.
To summarize my thoughts about our new theme, please enjoy the fifth, sixth, and last stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s greatest poem, “A Psalm of Life:”
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Blessings as you strive to Be Better, Do Better!
Lindsey R. Gilbert, Jr.
President & Head of Menaul School