Need a Greater Sense of Purpose?

In his audio program The Maverick Mindset, Dr. John Eliot tells the story of Henry Peterson …

Henry played for Georgetown University (back when Georgetown had a decent team).

They were coached by Lou Little.

Henry was what's known as a "walk-on player." However, he never got any playing time. He went for years without playing a single down.

Even so, Coach Little had high praise for Henry, describing him as “ … the glue that holds the team together. Henry represents the spirit of it all … the one who keeps things going.”

He'd often use Henry as an example to the other members of the team saying, "Look at Henry. He doesn't even play, yet he always puts in the maximum amount of effort."

In his senior year, Georgetown was having their best season yet. They were scheduled to play Fordham University for the conference championship.

The Monday before the game, Henry came up to the coach and said, "I've got some bad news. I just found out my dad passed away. We're going to have a memorial service on Saturday and I need to spend some time with my family."

Coach Little, of course, said he understood, telling Henry that now is the time to be with his family. He told Henry that they were going to put the initials of Henry's father on the jerseys and win Saturday's game for both his father and Henry.

Henry thanked the coach, left, and went to be with his family.

Saturday arrives. The morning of the big game.

Who should walk into the coach's office but Henry …

Coach Little said, “Henry, what are you doing here? I thought it was the memorial service this morning.”

Henry told the coach that he came to ask him a favor.

“Sure, Henry, anything for you. You know that,” replied Coach Little.

Henry said, “Coach, I want to start today.”

Coach Little replied, “Well, Henry, I know I said anything, but I’m really not sure about that. This is the biggest game in the school's history.”

Then Henry made Coach Little an offer he was confident he would not refuse.

Henry told him that if he started him, the first time he missed an assignment, dropped the ball, or made a mistake of any kind, the coach could pull him out of the game.

The coach agreed to Henry's terms and let him start the game.

That day, Henry Peterson ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns and helped Georgetown win the conference championship.

After the game, Coach Little ran up to Henry and hugged him.

“Henry, why didn’t you tell me you could play like that? I had no idea," he said.

“Did you ever meet my father, Coach?” Henry asked.

Coach Little said, “No, I didn’t have that privilege. I saw you walking around the field arm in arm with him a couple of times and I’m sorry now I didn’t come and say hello.”

“Well, Coach, my father was blind and today was the first time he got to see me play football,” Henry said.

The reason Eliot recounts the story is to demonstrate what having a sense of purpose can do for your life.

And how a commitment to the right type of dream reinforced by a strong sense of purpose can help you live your life at a higher level of performance.

If you feel you could use a boost in the "sense of purpose" department, I invite you to read an article I wrote recently called Be Happier and Accomplish More by Living Your Life with a Sense of Purpose.

In it, you'll learn three stories from history where people used a sense of purpose to inspire and motivate them – stories that you can apply to your own life – as well as five tips on how to achieve your goals faster and easier by developing and fine-tuning your sense of purpose.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 4.7
Published: June 24, 2011

4 Responses to “Need a Greater Sense of Purpose?”

  1. I love this story and believe that having a sense of purpose is really key. For me, often it's thinking about the fact that my children are watching me--I am a role model for successful...or unsuccessful behaviors. That is often what drives me in my copywriting business.

    Cindy CyrJune 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

  2. Again I've been having doubts that maybe I just don't have what it takes to be a copywriter but after reading this story it makes me see how much my son and grandaughter can benefit and live the writer's life with me if I become a freelance copywriter.

    David AdameJuly 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm

  3. Love the story. Very inspirational and I can relate to it. Please get the facts right though (it takes away from a strong message). Georgetown is in Wash DC and Fordham is in NY City. They may have played, but not for the state championship.

    Guest (Micky)August 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)