RUDY-RUDY-RUDY: The Risks and Rewards of Following Your Dreams

Have you ever seen the movie “Rudy”?

If not, here’s a recap. A runt-of-the-litter high school football player grows up in a steel town. Graduates and works at the mill. His best and only friend dies in an accident so the kid, Rudy, decides to follow his dream of playing football for Notre Dame. His family thinks he’s gone off the deep end. He gets rejected from even attending Notre Dame so he enrolls at a nearby Junior College to get his grades in order. He gets rejected from Notre Dame three more times. Finally he gets in. He busts his ass to be the last guy to make the practice squad on the football team. He’s essentially a tackling dummy for guys 3 times his size. He gets the crap kicked out of him for 2 years. The team is so impressed with his never quit attitude that they rally together so that he can be on the sidelines in uniform for the last game of his senior season. They blow out Georgia Tech in this game and after much prodding from the fans and players, the coach lets Rudy on the field for the final two plays. On the last play he sacks the quarterback and is carried off the gridiron. A title card alerts us that this is the last time a Notre Dame player has ever left the stadium on his teammates’ shoulders.

Grown men who won’t shed a tear at their mother’s funeral will bawl when they watch “Rudy”. Why? Because all of us (especially men) get emotional about relentlessly pursuing our dreams, even in the face of ridicule and long-shot odds, and being rewarded for it.

I used to be fat. I lost weight. I gained weight. I got skinny and looked like crap. I finally decided to forgo the treadmill and the trends and get serious about lifting weights. I used to work a desk job. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was pretty miserable. My wife often reminds me of this. I decided to forgo a long-built career in advertising to pursue my passion of strength, health and fitness. My family thought I’d gone off the deep end. I was unqualified so I offered to work for free. Not as a post-college kid but as a married adult who had pulled in a six figure salary the year before. I got unbelievably lucky and one of the greatest in the industry decided to take me under his wing and teach me what he knows. I read every book, got every certification and attended every seminar I could. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning (still do!). I sacrifice evening activities because I had to get to bed. I ride the morning subway with union workers and transexuals. I pack and bring all my meals to make sure I stay on track. I’m often at the gym for 14 or 15 hours a day.

I’m not saying all this to brag about myself or how hard I work. Ask the people who know me and they would say I’m actually the last person who would do that. And I certainly don’t feel like I’ve achieved enough in my life and career that I’m ready to be carried off the field on anyone’s shoulders.  I’m telling you this because, and I wish there was a way to make this sound less hokey, nothing will empower you like whole-heartedly going after your dreams. I am so grateful to all that have help me accomplish how far I’ve come. For all those hours spent moving the bar and reading the text books. For all those early morning alarm clocks and generous coaches who I used to admire from a far and I now have the honor of calling my colleagues. For my training partners and coworkers who inspire me every day to push my mind and my body further.

I meet so many people and have so many clients who are stuck in a rut. Who feel beaten down by the lives they have chosen to lead. Now I realize that life is complicated and we all have fears and obligations. But I encourage everyone to do anything they can to go after what they want, what they believe and what they are passionate about. Do that and one day you may just get to run out of that tunnel with your gold helmet shining in the sun.