The Simple Brilliance of Lou Scott – Part 2

Apr 1, 2006

Ya Gotta Wanna

As I mentioned in Lou Scott, Part 1, The MPC, Lou was a Giant in our industry. He was the inventor of so many of our techniques. But he did know that where success is achieved, yearning or motivation is the key, not fancy techniques. As the signs in so many recruitment offices blare out, “Ya Gotta Wanna.” Sometimes Lou would explain the importance of self-motivation by turning into a storyteller—and he was a great storyteller. I believe he picked up the Lou Little story from Daniel Steele’s book, I Am, I Can ©1973. I remember once in Cleveland when he told this story. He was introduced and climbed the stairs at the side of the stage. He then walked to the podium and asked to have the lights dimmed. Then he talked to us about coach Lou Little and the football player:

One day some years ago Columbia University football coach Lou Little was stopped on campus and informed of the unexpected death of the father of one of his players. He agreed to break the news to the student, as he knew that the young man and his father were quite close.

Two days after he went home to attend the funeral, the student returned to campus and was back on the practice field. “What are you doing back so soon?” asked the coach. “You could have taken a week or two…we would have understood.”

“Coach,” the young man said, “my father was buried yesterday, and the rest of the family is taking care of things. Coach Little, I’ve just got to play in that game tomorrow. That’s why I came back today.”

The coach reminded him that tomorrow’s game was a critical game and he might not play at all since he wasn’t a usual starter.

But the student pressed, “I know I haven’t played much, Coach, but I’m asking you for a chance to play tomorrow. I’ve just got to play in that game.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Coach Little said, “Okay, son, tell you what. If we win the toss, I’ll let you play on the receiving team, but I can’t promise you more than that.”

The next day Columbia did win the toss. That young man went into the game and played like he had never played before. In fact, he was playing so well that Lou Little decided to leave him in longer. He had an outstanding day and, largely because of his effort, Columbia won the game.

In the locker room, the coach asked the student, “What in the world happened to you out there? You never played ball like that in your whole life. That’s the best exhibition of football I ever saw. How in the world did you do it?”

“Well, Coach,” the exhausted and exhilarated young man said, “you never met my father, did you?”

“No, I didn’t.” Little replied. “I knew you were very close to your father, and I saw you walking arm in arm across the campus on several occasions, but I never met him.”

“Well, you see,” the student said, searching for the right words, “for most of my life my father was blind — and today was the first day he was able to watch me play.”

Lou would then say, “Don’t wait to be successful until someone dear to you can see you perform. Do it today. Don’t wait. May God bless you all.” And then the lights would come back on and all of us in the audience would be wiping tears from our eyes. Lou had that rare ability to move his audience emotionally.

Lou was right. Motivation is key. There are few qualities more vital than a strong yearning to do or be something. Earning and learning help, but your desire, your yearning, will take you over the top.

An admirer once exclaimed to President Theodore Roosevelt, “Mr. Roosevelt, you are a great man!”

“No,” he replied, “Teddy Roosevelt is simply a plain, ordinary man — highly motivated.” It was his yearning that set him apart.

*“The Simple Brilliance of” is one in a series of articles focusing on ideas and techniques from some of the great thinkers, movers and shakers in the field of recruitment who Bob Marshall has had the privilege of meeting and discussing various topics over the past 25 years.

Bob Marshall, CPC, CIPC started in the search business in 1980 and became Western Regional Manager for over 60 Management Recruiters Intl. offices in 1984. In 1986 he founded The Bob Marshall Group, International, training recruiters across the nation as well as the United Kingdom, Malta, and Cyprus. In 1996, he returned to working a desk full time and continues to train recruiters. To learn more about his activities and descriptions of his products and services, contact him directly at: 770-898-5550 or @ or