Lou Holtz’s 4 things in life by 3 rules with 3 questions (4 things x 3 rules / 3 questions)

The 4 essentials things in life

“Everybody needs four things in life:

Something to do,

someone to love,

someone to believe in

and something to hope for.”

Lou Hotz

My Pondering-life on the 4 things:

#1 Something to do

Preferably, we find something meaningful to do.

We are most satisfied when we are doing what we were created for by fulfilling an innate passion. Life is too short and valuable for apathy and laziness. Even if what we are doing isn’t exciting per se, we need to just do it, to it our best.

Like A.L. Williams says, “Just do it, do it, do it!” If you aren’t familiar with his great ‘Do it!’ speech or wish to watch again, here is the link to to it. If you aren’t familiar with it, it might among the best twenty minutes you have spent in a long time.

#2 – Someone to love

As a committed unashamed Christian, this goes to commandments #1 and #2 from Christ Himself that we are to love God and love others first and foremost.

We were created to love people and use things. It’s so wrong when we get that backwards. Regardless of your religious beliefs, L O V E is a paramount quality and intrinsic need. If we don’t have someone to love, our lives are shallow at best.

#3 – Someone to believe in

Let’s be inspired by others. Let’s stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us. Let’s dig into history and delve into biographies of noble men and women who inspire us. Let’s get into the stories that are influential.

We all can benefit from learning and leaning on others. We all need a heroes to emulate and mentors to guide us.

No one is perfect but most everyone has some excellent attribute that’s worthy to believe in.

Yet, ultimately who can and should we trust and believe in?

#4 Something to hope for

Hope floats. We each have the ability to control our attitude. Victor Frankl taught this very well in his book, Man’s Search for meaning.

Goals build structure around the dreams and aspirations of hope.

How big and what is your WHY? A big vision supports a big hope.

Summary: We need something big to do, someone to love deeply, someone to greatly believe in and something bigger than ourself to hope for.

The Thee Rules

Holtz simplifies things by following three simple rules.

Rule #1 – Do what’s right

“Just do the right thing,” Lou says. “We’ve all done dumb things and wish we hadn’t done them, but you can’t go through life with an albatross around your neck saying, ‘I made a mistake.’ Say you’re sorry, make amends and move on.”
He added: “I think it’s wrong to be bitter. We all have a reason to be bitter. We’ve all had injustices done to us by society, by a spouse, by a friend, but you can’t go through life being bitter. We’re always blaming someone else. Wherever we are it’s because of the choices we make.”

Rule #2 – Do your best

“Not everybody will be an All-American.

Not everybody will be first team.

Not everybody will be great.

But everybody can do the best they can with the time allotted.”

Lou Holtz

Rule #3 – Do care for others

I have seen this rule in action many times.

Lou is constantly asking people,

“How can I help you?

How can I assist you?”

And he means it.

He has a deep-down burning desire to help people.

Harvey Macay

Summary: Do Right, Best and Care

The Three Questions

Lou Holtz says he can get by with only three rules because the people you meet have three basic questions.

#1 – Can I trust you?

“Without trust, there is no relationship,” Lou said. “Without trust, you don’t have a chance. People have to trust you. They have to trust your product. The only way you can ever get trust is if both sides do the right thing.”

Lou Holtz

#2 – Are you committed to excellence?


“When you call on a customer, you send a message that you are committed to certain standards. How much do you know about your company and what opportunities your company offers to satisfy people’s needs?

The only way that can ever be answered is if you do everything to the best of your ability.”

Lou Holtz

#3 – Do you care about me?


“Do you care about me and what happens if your product doesn’t do what it’s intended to do?

Caring about people is not making their life easy. Caring about people is not being their friend. Caring about people is enabling them to be successful.”

Lou Holtz

A few years ago I was asked to help raise money for a Lou Holtz statue at Notre Dame. On the pedestal, his players had chosen three words – Trust, Commitment, Love.

Those words represent Lou’s core values.

If people follow these three simple rules, their self-confidence grows. They don’t worry when the phone rings. They have no doubt about what they are doing. They lift everyone up in their organization. These three rules help hold organizations together.


Holtz then finished with this exercise. He asked us to pick two people. Pick someone you love, admire and respect. Then take someone you’ve got a problem with. Ask these three questions about both people. Just a simple yes or no.


“I guarantee you, the person you admire and respect, you said yes to all three questions,” Holtz said. “The person you’ve got a problem with, you pinpointed a problem. Either you can’t trust them, they aren’t committed, or they don’t care.”


When you have a problem with someone who falls into these three categories you have to decide if you can change it or live with it. If you can’t do either, your only other choice – and probably the right choice – is to divorce yourself from the problem or the individual.


I never said it was easy.

Harvey Macay

Summary: Ask this to others and yourself: Can I trust your motivations, are you about excellence and do you care about others?

So there you have a solid formula for Excellence in life =

4 things x 3 rules / 3 questions.

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