May 15, 2019

Do You Have 27 Seconds?

By Jack W. Rolfe


“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

~ Mark Twain

This is definitely a story worth repeating. How does a fifty-year-old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from Utah end up being enrolled as a student at the Catholic University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana? I did it by spending a lifetime of discovering, developing, and delivering my unique purpose in life. Then, after four years of rigorous study and sacrifice, I found myself approaching the platform erected inside the Edmund P. Joyce Center on my graduation day, May 18, 2013. I was being awarded a master’s degree in nonprofit administration with honors from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame. I glanced upward to see my image being broadcast upon the overhead Jumbotron screen in this beautiful sporting arena. I could not hold back my excitement at being handed my diploma and completing the walk across that magnificent stage. I felt deeply that this was about to be the “27 seconds” that would change my life forever…and it did! The education and connections developed at this institution now assist me in spreading across the country the nonprofit organization I created.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger had a similar life-changing experience at Notre Dame. Rudy led a life fueled by people telling him he couldn’t accomplish the goals he wanted to achieve. One dream he harbored was to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team despite being merely 5’6″ and 185 pounds—an undersized player. After working as hard as possible, Rudy earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team, a practice squad that helped the varsity team practice for games. Rudy never even dressed in uniform for a game until his last Notre Dame home game. He was put in the game as defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. In the final play of Ruettiger’s senior season, he sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen, which is all his Notre Dame stat line has ever shown. Following the game, Rudy’s teammates carried him off the field; he was the first of only two players in Notre Dame history to ever be carried off the field by his teammates. His simple story of playing only 27 seconds for one of the most storied football programs in the country was made into an inspirational movie: Rudy. The movie has motivated and inspired millions of people across the world to reach for their dreams regardless of what others tell them about their abilities.

Have you discovered your 27 seconds in life? Of course, this is a metaphorical question. Finding success, peace, and happiness in our own lives depends on what we do with those inspirational moments that transpire along our journey. Do you enjoy the moment at the time you experience it and then move on, or are you motivated by the experience to take your life to the next level? I invite you not to waste those valuable God-gifted instances. If you have not already done so, you have an opportunity to begin now, and if you have already begun, this is your chance to take your journey to an even higher plane.

The real story is what Rudy and I decided to do with our life-defining moments at the University of Notre Dame. We chose to take the knowledge and resources we gained from our experiences and use them to improve the lives of others. I believe that this is how you find true purpose! As you lift others around you, your own life will automatically be lifted! You will begin to notice a status change: Your problems will start to be solved, unwanted feelings will flee, and pains will be relieved.

What are the life defining moments in your own story? It doesn’t matter where your story is told or how many other individuals hear it. What matters is that you share it and use it to make a difference in the lives of other people. You now have the occasion to write your own story. You see, finding your 27 seconds is finding your purpose in life. So, put everything down right now and take a 27 second moment of silence. Reflect on who needs your help and have the courage to act upon what you feel! It will be 27 seconds well spent!

“You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something.”

~Harold S. Kushner


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