Rudy is Alive and Well!
Several days ago, a friend in real estate called me from Haig Point, a beautiful residential development on the coast in South Carolina, near Hilton Head. He was phoning from a sales rally that was being held the night before their big sales weekend of the season. The staff of Haig Point have used my 7 Cs of Success for a long time to do some very impressive things. They decided that a few words directly from me might be helpful as they prepared for the big event.
The night of the rally, an old friend who was working there with the sales force, Craig Wheeler, showed all the sales agents clips from the movie Rudy - a movie you'd love if you haven't already seen it. Rudy is this little, undersized high school football player who always dreamed of playing for Notre Dame. Everyone said he would never make it. But he persisted in following his dream, and eventually got there, against all odds. People who knew him then said he'd never play in a game, but again he worked to make his dream come true. The last game his senior year, he was put on to the field and made the final tackle of the game. He was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates, the last time that ever happened at Notre Dame stadium, over twenty years ago. The movie is great, and very inspirational.
I want to share with you what I said to the Haig Point salespeople when I talked over their speakerphone the night of the big rally. As soon as I finished and hung up, I decided to write down what I had been moved to say, so that I could share it with you. So, here it is, transcribed by memory from our live phone call:
Hi! This is Tom Morris. How are you all doing tonight? I hope you're excited! I hope you're fired up by the movie clips you just saw from the great film RUDY. I want to feed the fire a little and take a couple of minutes to tell you The Story Behind The Movie.
When Rudy graduated from Notre Dame, he went into a business you all know something about - real estate!
Among other things, he started managing a condo complex for a friend of mine in South Bend. He didnąt want to leave the city of magic, and lived in sight of the Notre Dame football stadium.
He started telling his story to anyone who would listen - Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, alumni groups, ANYONE. People said "THIS SHOULD BE A MOVIE!" So Rudy wrote up a proposal and started sending it out to movie studios and producers in Hollywood. He dreamed of a movie that could inspire people all over the world. But EVERYBODY in Hollywood turned him down! Everyone said "Who wants to see a movie about a football player nobody ever heard of?"
But he persisted. He believed in himself. He had a vivid vision of what he wanted to see happen. He lived the 7 Cs of Success in pursuing this goal, against greater odds than he had faced with his desire to be a Notre Dame football player in the first place. And he finally met the people who could make his goal a reality - the men who had made the basketball movie HOOSIERS. The rest is history.
By the way, I met Rudy in an interesting setting. I always parked my car at the Notre Dame football stadium, since my office was just across the street. One cold morning, I had just parked, and was walking around the end of the stadium, when I noticed big 18 wheeler trucks all around with license plates that said "North Hollywood California." I saw a guy standing in what appeared to be a catering van and I walked up and said "Hi. What's going on?" He said "We're making a movie!" We started talking, and he told me a bit about the plot of the film. Then he saw the director walking by and called him over to chat. The producer walked up. Pretty soon I was surrounded by movie people, and the catering guy yelled "HEY! There's RUDY! HEY RUDY, come over here, this is a guy I want you to meet." As I stood there, Rudy told me his story, beginning to end.
I said, "I'm getting ready to write the fifth chapter in a book about success, a chapter on the importance of emotional commitment in whatever we're doing. Can I use your story in it?" He smiled and replied, "Sure, go for it!" So I walked over to my office and started chapter 5 with the story of meeting Rudy, along with the whole drama of his achievement.
Another little side story. I had a student in my freshman class one year who at first appeared very different from Rudy. He had been a great high school football player and had been highly recruited by Notre Dame. But when he arrived on campus, nothing seemed to go right for him. He couldn't get on the starting team. He wasn't fast enough. He wasn't strong enough. But he wanted with all his heart to do SOMETHING on the football field that would matter to people. His sophomore year, he didn't make it. His junior year was no better. But he kept his dream alive. His senior year, he played, but his performance was still a disappointment to the coaches and to himself.
When he graduated, he hung around for a few months, dating a girl who worked at the bookstore. Then the casting company came to town, looking for football players for the movie RUDY. He was cast, and started acting, playing a roll that came very naturally, that of a Notre Dame football player. Only this time, he was a starter. And, in one scene, he spontaneously spoke a few words to Rudy. The director yelled "CUT, CUT, CUT!" He wasn't supposed to have a speaking role. But, after a moment, the director decided he liked what this extra had said, so he kept it in the movie and then wrote a bigger part for my student. This young man ended up being the big guy prominently featured in the film who befriended Rudy during practices, the guy who at the end of the movie started the clapping and chanting of "RU-DY! RU-DY! RU-DY! RU-DY!" - one of the most famous scenes in any sports movie to this day, a scene that captured the spirit of human accomplishment against all odds, and the response of others to heartfelt heroic effort on any scale. In the most unusual way, my student had finally realized his dream. He had done something that day on a football field that would really matter to people. But in a way far beyond anything he had hoped for. He acted a part that touched people all over the world. Like Rudy, he didn't give up.
What was Rudy's secret? He believed in himself. And he saw in his imagination the goal he was working so hard to achieve. He could see the result before anyone else would believe it. And he was emotionally committed to attaining that goal. But most of all, he didn't give up. And he succeeded beyond his wildest imagination. Just like my student.
Let me tell you one more quick little story.
A friend of mine dreamed of one day attending Harvard University. He told everyone his dream. But people said he should calm down, he wasn't that good, he'd never make it to a place like that, he should be more reasonable in his dreams. DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR? Rudy had heard the very same things about his dream.
But like Rudy, this young man refused to lower his expectations and continued to dream big. One day, an older friend of his family listened intently as the young man talked about his dream, and how nobody thought he could make it. The older gentleman started twisting a ring off his finger and handed it to the boy. It was a Harvard class ring. He said "I want you to wear this until the day you get your own." And, guess what? He did.
He believed, he persisted, he used that ring on his finger as the ultimate motivator, and he ended up graduating from Harvard University. He is an executive today at one of the world's great financial institutions.
There are many Rudys in the world. I want each of you to be one this weekend. True Success to you all!
CONCLUDING NOTE: Craig Wheeler called me after that big Haig Point sales weekend, and told me that, in the end, they had not sold the number of lots that they had set as their goal - they had sold more! Using the spirit of Rudy, along with the 7 Cs of Success, they had won the game by a higher score than they had dreamed. And that's the way it can happen.
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