The young man was all cried out.

After a childhood spent bouncing around the country, following his parents through one desperate scramble for survival after another, he had finally seemed to find a way out. He’d blossomed into a talented football player and his skills on the field had landed him a scholarship and a spot on the University of Miami football team.

But injuries sidelined him. What’s more, he was surrounded by even more talented and skilled players, and it was hard for him to stand out.

He dropped out in his first year with a .7 GPA and a broken heart.

But his coach dragged him out of his despair and back to campus, and Dwayne Johnson dug deep and found the courage to turn his situation around. He ended up being part of the national championship winning team and played in the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Most importantly, he graduated with his degree in criminology and physiology.

He went on to an outstanding career as a professional wrestler, and pivoted to become one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood.

His path to success has been littered with highs and lows, and Johnson struggled through setbacks and depression. It takes moxie to hit rock bottom and come back stronger than ever, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has it.

Moxie puts in the work.

Ask anyone who has ever worked with him, and they will quickly tell you the key to Johnson’s success is his legendary work ethic. Decades into his career and as he closes in on the age of 47, he still rises at 4 a.m. daily to start his day in the gym and is typically on set or otherwise working for twelve or more hours a day.

For a time, Johnson offered a free app to fans that would allow them to keep up with his schedule. He would wake them at 4 a.m. with a song or other carefully curated alarm. Snooze button? Umm…no. No snooze button. Users could also use the app to set goals, and would receive perioding motivational messages and updates from Johnson himself.

It’s as if Johnson has enough drive to motivate not only himself, but everyone around him. The encouragement overflows though his social media channels. The themes are clear: keep going. You can do it. Outwork everyone else and you’ll be rewarded. Better things are ahead.

It takes moxie to encourage others, and Johnson has it.

Moxie knows when to close one door and open another.

Johnson didn’t make the NFL after college, but he did land a spot on a competitive Canadian league team. He chased his dream north, only to be beset once again by injuries and other challenges. He struggled to get by, crashing on a discarded mattress on the floor of a two bedroom apartment he shared with two other players.

When he was finally cut from the team, he had to turn to his parents for help. It was another low point.

Then he received a phone call from his old coach in Canada, offering him another chance. It was a pivotal moment. Should he give his dream one more go, or turn his focus to another path?

Johnson had an unusual choice before him. He happened to be from a long line of professional wrestlers, including his grandfather, father, uncles and cousins. It wasn’t a glamorous existence. His father, Rocky Johnson, had bounced around the country for years scraping together a meager existence for the family. But the scene was changing, and wrestling had blossomed into major entertainment. Should he take a chance on professional wrestling?

His father tried desperately to dissuade him from wrestling. He was convinced it would be a huge mistake and would ruin any chance at football. But Johnson persisted, and convinced his father to show him the ropes. His father conceded, and began coaching Johnson.

Going into the family business turned out to be one of the best decisions Johnson ever made.

He became a wildly successful professional wrestler known as The Rock and built on that foundation to launch a rich, successful and varied career as an entertainer.

It takes moxie to let go of one dream and pursue another, and Johnson has it.

If moxie doesn’t have its own voice, it borrows someone else’s.

“Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?”

Even if you aren’t a fan of professional wrestling, you likely have heard The Rock’s most popular catchphrase, and can picture the signature look that goes with it: the intense gaze accentuated by one eyebrow arching upward.

Key to The Rock’s success in the ring was his ability to toss off memorable trash talk and legendary one-liners.

Surprisingly, that was not likely a skill he honed on the football field. When he played football, had a reputation as a quiet, polite, respectful guy. But his team mates do recognize the fast-talking, quick on his feet character he’s come to embody. The Rock seems to be a composite of the many colorful characters Dwayne Johnson encountered throughout his football career.

Perhaps that’s why it takes no time at all to scratch the surface of The Rock and find that warm, gentle soul underneath. It takes moxie to create an entire persona, and yet remain so grounded in your own sense of self.

Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?

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