Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger was born on August 23, 1948, into a lower-middle class family. He struggled academically because he was dyslexic, but he excelled in football, leading his high school team in tackles during his junior and senior years at Joliet Catholic Academy.
Rudy had a dream of attending Notre Dame and playing for The Fighting Irish football team despite his poor academic record and being only 5 ft. 6 in. and weighing 165 lbs.
After serving in the United States Navy for four years, he applied for entrance to Notre Dame. In spite of three rejections and much ridicule from family, Rudy never gave up hope.
First he had to do his early college work at Holy Cross College. In the fall of 1974 he was finally accepted as a student at Notre Dame. Rudy earned a place on the scout team—a practice squad that helps the varsity team practice for games. However, he never gave up hope of playing on the varsity team.
In the final home game of Rudy’s senior season, Coach Devine asked him to dress in the varsity uniform, #45. With 32 seconds left to play in the game against Georgia Tech, Coach sent Rudy in and, on the final play, Rudy sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback. With his dream realized, Rudy was ecstatic as his teammates carried him off the field.
Life can become very complicated, but hope is simple. Hope is an attitude. It is born of an internal optimistic belief that the best outcome will occur regardless of circumstances.
Hope is elusive and intangible. It cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled, but it can be felt. It’s a feeling that what you want can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
Hope can endure through difficult times. And the results are evident as they were in the life of Rudy.
Hope is a mindset or way of thinking. You have no doubt heard the story of the two prisoners. Both looked out of their prison bars. One saw mud; the other saw stars.
I believe that hope is the foundation for success; it’s a choice you make that allows you to look forward to something with desire and confidence. Christopher Reeve said, “Once you choose to hope, anything’s possible.” This is the hope that I seek and that I encourage you to as well.
Recognizing Enemies of Hope
Doubts, fears, pessimism, and disappointments in life can appear like mountains and will rob you of hope.
Napoleon Hill said, “All down through the road of life you will meet with obstacles, many of them. Failure will overtake you time after time, but remember that it is a part of Nature’s method to place obstacles and failure in your way, as hurdles are placed before a horse that is being trained, that you may learn from these, some of the greatest of all lessons.”
In other words, when we live with the understanding that difficult times are meant to be endured and that we stand to gain from every trial, we can withstand nearly anything knowing that day always follows night and that the sun will shine again.
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so I still have a dream.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Building Your Hope Bank
As I thought about how to best communicate my belief that hope is accessible to everyone, I considered every circumstance I could think of and settled on three essential things that must be present in order to build a bank of hope to draw upon in times of struggle or strife.
1. Create a picture of your future. Consider your goals, your vision, or your life’s dream. Whatever you call it, having an idea of where you see yourself and what you see yourself doing in the future is a powerful way to sustain hope when circumstances are pulling you down. Create this picture, and modify it as you like. It’s all yours.
2. Develop an everyday response mechanism. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Or, if you prefer, you are the sky; everything else is just the weather. It changes, you don’t. Therefore, why should the picture of your future change just because the things around you have? While focusing on your goal, make the decisions and take the actions you need to in order to stay on track. Don’t let life’s winds blow you off course!
3. Take time for reflection. Life is busy, can be confusing, and sometimes seems downright unfair. Therefore, it’s essential that we take time on a regular basis to reflect on where we’re at and how we’re doing. When we do, it allows us to keep the bigger picture in mind, make changes where we need to, and not become victims of circumstance.
When you have a clear picture of your ideal future, a way to navigate day-to-day issues, and take time to consider how you’re doing, you are building your ‘hope bank.’
Take a moment right now to assess the value of your own hope bank. If it’s time to make a deposit, spend some time revisiting what it is you want your future to look like. Then, decide what you need to do to take a step closer to it. What are some things you do to keep your hope alive? Tell me in the comment section below this post.
When you have hope and are living an intentional life, things like happiness and optimism, high expectations, and success not only seem achievable, they become inevitable.
About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s daily lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #27 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)