Persist Until They Can’t Resist

“Quit making excuses. What we’re really talking about here is commitment. Until you make a commitment to your dream, it’s not a commitment at all. It’s just another fantasy.” – Rudy Ruettiger

I had the great pleasure of getting to meet and spend time with Rudy Ruettiger who was made famous by the 1993 movie Rudy. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s amazing.

This is a true story about persistence in the face of incredible odds.

The third of fourteen children, Rudy struggled in school because of dyslexia. He dreamt of playing football for the University of Notre Dame – even though he didn’t have the skill or size of a typical player.

After his fourth try – and putting in the work for two years to improve marginal grades – Rudy was accepted to Notre Dame. He even talked his way onto the student council before he was admitted.

Once there, he worked hard to earn a place on the practice squad – just showing up until they let him on – but never got past warming the bench, until the last game of his final season when his coach called him onto the field. Magic happened – everything he’d dreamed about and worked so hard for: He made three plays and, in the final seconds of the game, in a single, astounding tackle, he sacked Georgia Tech’s quarterback. Jubilant, his teammates carried him off the field.

Rudy used the same persistence, years later, to get a movie made about his experience at Notre Dame. At one point, his persistence got him banned from campus. It only took 10 years. At one point, he was on one of many trips to Los Angeles to get the film made, to meet with someone in the film business. When he was stood up, Rudy tracked him down at his house to make sure he got to make his pitch.

“Don’t let people steal your dreams.”

His dream, by any standard, was insane: a 5’7” guy who wanted to play football on a college team, and then make a movie about it. That movie, by the way, is considered one of the top football movies ever made.

In spite of the odds, Rudy always acted as if his dream was going to happen, no matter what. When everyone said he was dumb and stupid – that he couldn’t do it – he focused on what he could do. That work ethic and attitude helped him to find a way outside the normal path.

All too often, it isn’t other people who stop us from achieving our dreams – it’s us.

The Challenge

  • Look at your team: where do your logical, practical thinking and beliefs get in the way?
  • What dream do you really want to achieve – for your work, yourself and your life?
  • If you were to put together a plan – with incredible commitment and energy – to persist until they can’t resist, what would it be?