Rocky’s Moral Compass

Ken West
2 min readAug 10, 2021

How one three-letter word changed his life

Photograph by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

There’s a great scene in the Rocky II movie where Rocky is facing his own reluctance and lost ambition about the upcoming match against Apollo Creed, especially after Adrian, his wife, is hospitalized.

He lacks moral certainty.

Morality and the knowledge that you are right, that the course you have chosen is the correct one, the right one, the noble one, is powerful.

Without this knowledge, one can lose the will to fight.

One needs the knowledge that one is right.

Now in the Rocky movie, Rocky is no philosopher.

He’s a man who suddenly has an opportunity way out of proportion to his previous situation.

The one person who he trusts and respects most in the world is Adrian, his wife, lover, friend… and moral compass.

So, when he goes to her in the hospital room where she is recovering after a premature delivery, lost blood, and a temporary coma, he presents himself and his ambition openly to her.

Up until now, she has been reluctant to accept the boxing life he has chosen. She doesn’t like it.

Yet, when he comes to her and talks about not fighting, she looks at him and says that there’s one thing she wants him to do.

“What’s that?” he asks.

“Win!” she says. “Win.”

That one word said by his wife, lover and moral compass gives him the final certainty that’s been missing.

It’s the spark that ignites his determination to fight to the end, no matter what the consequences.

Adrian has given Rocky the moral certainty that makes all the difference in life.


This was an excerpt from my recent book, Your Ego: It’s Your Salvation, Not Your Original Sin.