From the August 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

If you don't know the story of Rudy Ruettiger, you should hear it (or rent the movie Rudy). Rudy was a working-class kid with low grades and little athletic skill. He was kind of small, too.

But Rudy had a dream. He wanted to play football for Notre Dame.

His dream didn't make sense to most people; they said he could never get into the school, much less play on the team. But Rudy, despite the odds, believed in his dream.

After many years of hard work and rejection, Rudy got into Notre Dame. Because of his attitude-and for that reason only-he made the football team. Then, in the only play in the only game of his football career, Rudy sacked the opposing quarterback. He was carried off the field on his teammates' shoulders.

Now that's attitude!

There's no reason we can't all be like Rudy. He didn't have special talents, skills or advantages. He had a dream, and he worked to make it real.

Why is it that a positive attitude can achieve so much? How can it help you close deals, generate business and bond relationships? How can it get you through the worst situations?

Many things happen in life and business over which you have no control. You can, however, control the way you deal with these situations. As the writer John Homer Miller once said, "Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you, as by the attitude you bring to life."

Successful people learn this lesson early and keep on learning it. They reinforce their positive attitudes by reading, by gaining new information, by setting goals and achieving them. Most important, they surround themselves with other people who also believe in the power of attitude. Other people can lift you up or bring you down, so take extreme care in selecting the people you choose to do business with, and the people with whom you surround yourself.

Out of your attitude can come disappointment and anger at how things have turned out; out of your attitude can also come your enjoyment of life and your gratitude for all your blessings. It's your choice.