“This time around I know what I am fighting for.”

- James K. Braddock in Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man is one of the great all-time movies about one of the great all-time stories.  It is about a mid-ranked fighter in the depression era America losing everything and then clawing his way back into the ring and into the championship fight. He is the ultimate underdog because everyone else down on their luck is identifying with his success.

In a way, he is not only contending for his family, but for every man and woman who is suffering.  When his wife Mae (who hates him fighting) shows up at their local parish to pray for Jim, the priest tells her that the church full of people are there to do the same. "They somehow believe that Jimmy is fighting for them," he said.

Have you ever wanted something more for someone than they wanted it for themselves? 

Have you ever contended for someone that didn’t seem like they had the same fight in them?

What we often encounter as coaches is that people have quit believing that things can change.  Many of them have tried a lot of things, sometimes even things that look like the things we are offering. Their disappointment and lack of hope is palpable.  Given how difficult how things are, how could they possibly turn around?

They have long quit dreaming of something far better and are fixated on just calming the storm and surviving.

Given the backdrop of a really challenging world and a lot of frustration and discouragement we are finding in leaders, we are having to spend more time trafficking in what appears to be an increasingly scarcer currency…


One of our coaches refers to it as “contending for them until they are able to contend for themselves”. I love that. I think it fully captures the heart we have for leaders and fully summarizes what work that requires.

When the storms are raging and all hope seems lost, someone better still be holding on to hope.  The people you lead at work or at home are looking to you and your leadership to guide them through the storm. If you feel like all hope is lost, you better learn to fake it. You better show the ability to get up from the mat and keep fighting.  Or you better find someone to contend for you until you are able to fully contend yourself.  Find someone who traffics in hope until you build up a reserve of your own.

At the end of the day, whether you know it or not, you fighting for change, for hope, is not just about you. They all believe you are fighting for them…or not.


  • Are you hopeful that things can change?
  • Is that hope driving you to fight through the challenges, the discouragement?
  • Are those you are leading drawing strength from how they see you fighting?
  • What happens if you lose hope, heart, or the desire to fight?