The Story of Rudy, the Path of Most Resistance
The book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” was written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, and published in 2001. The book’s message is to focus on building your strengths (talents) rather than focusing on your weaknesses. The story below is taken from the follow-up book entitled “StrengthsFinder 2.0” written by Tom Rath, this excerpt is from a chapter entitled “The Path of MOST Resistance”:
“At its fundamentally flawed core, the aim of almost any learning program is to help us become who we are not. If you don’t have natural talent with numbers, you’re still forced to spend time in that area to attain a degree. If you’re not very empathic, you get sent to a course designed to infuse empathy into your personality. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.
This is quite apparent in the way we create icons out of people who struggle to overcome a lack of natural talent. Consider the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, the 23-year-old groundskeeper at Notre Dame’s stadium, who was the protagonist of the 1993 movie Rudy. At just 5’6″ and 165 pounds, this young man clearly didn’t possess the physical ability to play big-time college football, but he had ample “heart.”
Rudy worked tirelessly to gain admission to Notre Dame so he could play football there. Eventually, after being rejected three times, he was accepted at Notre Dame and soon thereafter earned a spot on the football team’s practice squad.
For two years, Rudy took a beating in daily practices, but he was never allowed to join his team on the sidelines. Then, after trying as hard as he could for two seasons, Rudy was finally invited to suit up for the final game of his senior year. In the last moments of this game, with a Notre Dame victory safely in hand, Rudy’s teammates lobbied their coach to put him in the game. In the final seconds, the coach sent Rudy in for a single play, and he tackled the opposing team’s quarterback.
It was a dramatic moment and, of course, Rudy became an instant hero. Fans chanted his name and carried him off the field. Ruettiger was later invited to the White House, where he met President Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, and football legend Joe Montana. While Rudy’s perseverance is admirable, in the end, he played a few seconds of college football and made a single tackle … after thousands of hours of practicing.
The inspirational nature of this story actually masks a significant problem: Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture. Our books, movies, and folklore are filled with stories of the underdog who beats one-in-a-million odds. And this leads us to celebrate those who triumph over their lack of natural ability even more than we recognize those who capitalize on their innate talents. As a result, millions of people see these heroes as being the epitome of the American Dream and set their sights on conquering major challenges. Unfortunately, this is taking the path of most resistance.”
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