“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” The shouting of his name built in a slow wave throughout the stadium until thousands of voices were chanting his name in unison, a show of support for and a testament to his years of dreaming, hard work, and dedication. After a powerful victory, his teammates lifted him up on their shoulders and carried him off the field to thunderous applause.
In case you haven’t figured it out, yet, I’m talking about the iconic story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a young man who grew up in a working class family in Illinois who dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame.
My husband and I have been on a quest to show our kids some of the classics, and this weekend, it was Rudy. This is the ultimate feel good story of heart, dedication, and unwavering belief that we all love. With the odds stacked against him – dyslexia and other academic challenges, small in stature and lacking real athletic ability, and everyone around him telling him it was impossible – Rudy never stopped dreaming and hoping that he’d get a chance to attend Notre Dame and play football. Through personal loss, years of hard work, rejection, and constantly showing up and fighting for his chance, he never gave up. And he ultimately got his shot!
As I watched the movie, what struck me over and over again was just how committed Rudy was to making his dream come to life, and how he consistently did hard, uncomfortable things, even in the face of rejection.
He left home with zero support. He fought through dyslexia and tutoring to get his grades up. He showed up to countless meetings, often uninvited, and informed the people who mattered that he was going to attend Notre Dame and play ball. He took thankless jobs, suffered through rejection after rejection until he finally got his acceptance letter. He fought for his chance on the prep team, his body taking the beating.
And through it all, his hope and faith in what could be never wavered.
Every step of the way, he demonstrated what I call Strength of Will – a trifecta of Commitment, Discipline, and Perseverance.
Commitment is the willingness to do whatever is required. For me, commitment is a binding agreement between my heart, mind, and emotions, and it’s that alignment that propels me forward toward my purpose of helping women build real exit plans to leave corporate life behind and build a business on their terms on a daily basis.
Discipline is the will to say no to anything that is off the path, that shifts your focus, time, energy, and attention away from what you’re trying to create. There’s no room for distraction.
Perseverance is the desire and willingness to stay on the path for as long as it takes.
Those three elements are rooted in deep belief. Belief that what you want is possible. That you have what it takes to bring it to life. That there are people who need your services. That what you ultimately want is inevitable. That with enough try-hard and determination, you can get what you want.
You may be asking what this has to do with corporate women or female entrepreneurs, so let me tell you.
If you’re sitting in your cubicle or corner office, feeling trapped, frustrated, and overwhelmed at the life you’re living, know that you’re not alone. I talk to women every day who feel guilty for wanting more. They think they should feel grateful and content with the career and life they’ve built for themselves, but they don’t. There’s this burning desire buried deep inside that never left, a desire to build and grow something they’re truly passionate about, but corporate benefits packages, a stable (and healthy) paycheck, and responsibilities keep them chained to their desks.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can embrace your inner Rudy, build a solid exit strategy, and make the leap.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be talking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We’ll dive into six specific characteristics that all entrepreneurs have, things like vision, strength of will – discipline, commitment, and perseverance, a deep sense of responsibility, and others. I want to dive into these because making the leap into entrepreneurship requires a lot more than a great idea and a love-hate relationship with your job. There will be days you’re exhausted. When you‘ll feel beaten down. When you’ll wonder if the late hours, the rejection, and discomfort are really worth it. And I want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have exactly what it takes to build the business of your dreams.
I want you to know the relentless pursuit of your dreams is worth the blood, sweat, and tears when you walk out those corporate doors for good and onto your own personal field of dreams. (Yes, I definitely mixed some sport and movie metaphors there, go with it!) When you land your first client, and the one after that, and the one after that. When you know that you’re doing exactly what you were put on this earth to do.
As you let your dreams take hold, here’s my best advice on how to embrace your inner Rudy:
- Know exactly what you want. And if you’re still trying to figure it out, I’d love to help you dig into this! It’s some of the best, most powerful work you’ll do as an entrepreneur in the making.
- Surround yourself with people who see your worth and value. Who don’t hold back when you need a good dose of truth. People who will “lay down their jersey and shout your name in unison” (watch the movie if you have no idea what I’m talking about) to show their support.
- Don’t let others convince you that you’re crazy, that your idea or dream is stupid. Stand firm in your conviction, and dig in. Be willing to do the hard work, even when it really sucks.
- Start. It’s the hardest part, but the first step leads to the next until you’re standing outside those corporate walls for the last time!
The decision to start is the hardest part. That probably sounds trite, but it requires you to believe in what’s possible, that you can actually do it, and that you’ll figure out all the pieces to bring it to life.
There will always be people who don’t get it. Who don’t get you. And it comes down to you, tuning those voices out, and pressing forward. Even when it’s hard.
Smart Girl, it’s time embrace your inner Rudy, the one with all the dreams and heart and courage, and leap!
P.S. Join the Employee to Entrepreneur Community on Facebook. Surround yourself with other women who get it! Who know what it’s like to leave their corporate job behind and build a business that lights them up!