Lou Holtz – Trust. Commitment. Love.
Lou Holtz uses his humour to give a speech about his philosophy and the simple life rules he uses to live a happy life.
I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I know. I was born in Follansbee, West Virginia. And I went by where I was born last night about 10:30. I was born in a cellar at home, delivered by Dr. [McGraw 00:00:18]. We had one bedroom for my sister, myself, and my parents. We had a half bath and a kitchen. Seven and a half years, we lived in that place. There was no welfare. There was no food stamps. There was no safety net, but I always had plenty to eat, because every time I asked for seconds my dad would say, “No, you had plenty.” But the reason I was born with a silver spoon … My dad had only gone to the third grade. That’s all the education he had. But why was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth? Because I was taught by my parents that life’s a matter of making choices wherever you are, good or bad, it’s because of choices you made, nobody been anybody else. But if you get an education, you’re willing to work, and overcome problems and difficulties, in this great country you can amount to something.
That’s why I was born with a silver spoon. I was in this country, and I was taught personal responsibility for choices you made. When we talk about a commitment to excellence, that’s a choice you make. What do you want to do? Having hopes, and dreams, and ambition, see, I think I was absolutely critical, and don’t make the mistake I made. I’ve done a lot of dumb things, but let me tell you the one thing I regret. We were with the University of Notre Dame, we took a program on the bottom, we took it the very top. And for nine straight years, we went to a January 1 bowl: the Sugar, the Cotton, the Orange, and the Fiesta. Nobody’s done it before. Nobody’s done it since. We put it on top and we maintained it. That’s the thing I regret the most.
See there’s a rule of life that says you’re either growing or you’re dying. The tree’s either growing or it’s dying. So’s grass. So’s a marriage. So’s a business. So’s a person. Doesn’t have a thing to do with age. My birthday candles cost more than the cake. But it has everything to do with my trying to get better. My trying to prove we got on top and say, “You know, this is pretty good, let’s maintain it.” Let’s not take any risks. We finished second in the country at Notre Dame, everybody called me an idiot. A guy finishes last in medical school, they call him doctor. That doesn’t seem fair. When I left Notre Dame, I never thought I’d coach again. Where do you go from Notre Dame? According to my mother, you go directly to Heaven and you sit by the Pope. You don’t coach anymore. And then I went to live in a town where the average age was deceased. And when I found out, I wasn’t tired of coaching. You have to have something to hope for, something to dream. And even though you’ve done great things so far, what’s going to happen now?
I want to give you a simple plan. Life doesn’t have to be complicated. I try to keep life simple. Do you realize there are only seven colors of the rainbow? Only seven. Look what Michelangelo did with those seven colors! There’s only seven musical notes. Look what Beethoven did with those seven notes! There’s only 10 numbers. Look what Bernie Madoff did with those 10 numbers. The point I make is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Say you need four things in your life. If you don’t have any of these four things in your life, you’re going to have a tremendous void. See, everybody needs something to do. Number two, everybody needs someone to love. Number three, everybody needs someone to believe in. In my case it’s Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. But the fourth thing you need in your life, is you need something to hope for.
There’s never a right time to do the wrong thing. And there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. Just do what’s right. I think it’s right to be honest. Right to be on time. See, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy life. Have fun. You’re going to have problems, you’re going to have difficulties. That’s part of life. And don’t tell people about your problems. Do you know that 90% of the people don’t care? And the other 10% are glad you got them, so you’re better off at keeping to yourself. You’re going to have problems. But have fun with what you’re doing. People say, “Did you have fun doing ESPN?” Not really. Because if you have fun being there, people have fun being around. Doesn’t mean I don’t do dumb things, and sometimes I wasn’t real honest.
Do everything to the best of your ability with time allotted. You know, ladies and gentlemen, not everybody can be All-American. Not everybody can be first team. Everybody can be the best you’re capable of being. I want to tell you, if you want to fail, you have the right to fail. That’s what’s great about this country. You do not have the right to cause other people to fail, because you don’t do everything to the best of your ability. When you join a spouse, you bring a child into the world, you join a business, you join a team, you have obligations and responsibilities, and you owe it to other people to the maximum you can at each and every thing you do. It’s not complicated.
And the last rule, is show people you care. When you walk into a room, is your attitude “Hey, here I am, look at me”? It’s like, no. Your attitude, there you are, how can I help you? I wished I knew those three rules when I was 21. I’ve used them for the last 40 years. There’s a statue of me at Notre Dame. I guess they needed a place for the pigeons to land, but if you go and look at it, just don’t look there. Look at three words on the pedestal: trust, commitment, love.