Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
As a Man Thinketh…
Are you a believer? Does
positive thinking work? Some say it has no value. Many say
they have tried it, and it simply doesn’t work. Tons of
books have been written about the subject, and most of the
time, none of those books change our lives for the better.
Nay sayers have good reason to doubt the validity of the
subject because most define the belief system about positive
thinking based on what others say.
We have all had the experience of attending a seminar
or watching some motivational speaker on television, and it
seems to me all they do is yell a lot. They remind me of my
high school coach, a fellow who said everything twice, and
said it really loud. “Okay, Okay. Let’s Go!
Let’s Go! Hustle! HUSTLE!” Our record was 0 –
10 under that guy, and I’m kinda’ proud of that.
If we really examine ‘positive thinking’ however, we
find there is a great deal more involved than just repeating
slogans, wishing, or someone saying “If it is to be, it’s up
to me.” And there are some good books out there, and when
you read the books and hear the authors, they don’t yell.
They tell powerful truths. When I heard those truths, they
did a world of good for me, to me, and inside me as well.
When I was young, rodeo was my life. Literally lived
for it. From age 17 to 21, I was on the road. Not that I
was very good at it, mind you, but such small matters never
deter real rodeo bums. And that’s what I was – a rodeo
bum. I roped calves and rode saddle-broncs. Note that I use
that word ‘rode’ loosely. Sudden meetings with the ground
were all too common.
My lack of winning did not stem from laziness. I was
an ‘arena rat.’ I worked constantly, and I loved to
practice. Yet my performance failed to improve much at
all. I did all the things ‘they’ said to do - I mounted
countless horses and roped even more calves. When I bucked
off a horse or missed with my loop, my internal drill
sergeant had a field day yelling at me in an effort to
create improvement. So I rode and roped more. When I
failed, I reacted with anger and frustration. And my
performance failed to improve much at all.
My academic record was the same. A chronic F student,
I failed miserably in school, and no matter what I did to
change my world…nothing worked. Then I read a book
suggesting that thinking differently was the first key
step. I have read the book many times since, and each time
I learn something new from it. As my years have increased
in number, my understanding of what ‘positive thinking’
really means has grown as well. For years, I thought the
magic was in the book. That’s wrong. The magic is in us.
To do better, we must think better. And of course, that’s
scriptural… “As a man thinketh, so is he.”
Have you ever seen a basketball coach
screaming at his players and slamming his towel down on the
floor in disgust? Have you ever seen a shortstop let a
grounder go through his legs, and then throw his glove on
the dirt in rage? We all know golfers who throw clubs. And
we have all seen the roper miss and take his frustration out
on his horse, now haven’t we?
That last one bothers me. The horse should never be
blamed for a miss. If we miss because our horse did
something wrong, whose fault is that? The trainer of that
horse is at fault. Besides, while horses are really smart,
I’ve never seen one that could throw a rope.
The coach, the ballplayer, the golfer and the roper are
experiencing frustration. We all do. Question is what do
you do when that happens? How do you think at that
Will throwing the towel on the floor create higher
performance in players? Will throwing the glove cause the
shortstop to catch the next one? No. And slinging golf
clubs and hitting horses won’t improve things either. Those
are ineffective reactions to mistakes that we are bound to
make. Those people are not thinking better, and probably
not ‘thinking’ at all. They are experiencing frustration,
and reacting with anger. We’ve all done it. What should we
There are better ways to think. High performers come
to know doing better begins with thinking better. Here are
some examples of others who had to learn the same lessons
that help us all.
When Arnold Palmer was fourteen, he threw a club in
anger. His dad, a greenskeeper, walked over and picked up
the club, and told his son, “If you ever do that again, you
can’t play anymore.” Tennis star, Bjorn Borg, credited his
mother with his future championships. “I threw a racket
once when I was young. My mother retrieved it, and forbid
me to play for six months.” At twelve, Tiger hit his golf
bag in a fury after a bad shot. His mother pounced on him
saying, “The bag did not hit that shot. I bought you that
bag, and if you are going to hit anything, hit yourself.”
All those parents were teaching their children the same
lesson. While we all make mistakes and experience
frustration, to improve our performance – we must channel
anger into something productive. This is not simple and not
easy, but it is doable. We do that by taking gentle hold of
our mind in the heat of battle, and replacing negative
thoughts - which drain our energy - with different thinking
that provides energy and power.
At a recent roping, I was competing against a number of
ropers – among them, the McReynolds clan. This is tough.
Dad, Mackey, sons, Albert, Anson, and Caleb are really good
hands. Mackey and Caleb were in my same roping. Caleb
missed two heel loops after his dad had turned the first two
Between runs we sat on our horses under the big
shade tree just outside the arena. Caleb rode up to his dad
and said, “What am I doing wrong?” We all waited for Pop to
provide some technical suggestion on rope delivery or other
horsemanship tips. Instead, Caleb’s dad offered some
unexpected and even more valuable advice – and a crystal
clear example of the positive energy that results from
“What you are doing wrong is…you have frown on your
face,” his father said. “Your shoulders are slumped,
and you are down on yourself. Get your head up and smile.
We have plenty of steers left and this roping is far from
over. You can’t rope with mope on your face.”
I think that is just one of the best tips I ever heard
in my life. Apparently, Caleb did too.
He didn’t miss any more steers, and they won third.
Keep your heart up. Let your spirit be light. Be
grateful for the experience and learn from it. Remember the
good only comes after an extended period of time and
effort. Remember it is impossible to look good while you
are getting better.
Have faith – certainly in a
spiritual sense, but in your self as well. The Lord is too
kind to shortchange us. There is more inside than we
dream. That’s what caused my turn-around long ago. Caring
adults in education and agriculture told me much the same as
Caleb’s dad told him…
“Don’t sit at the back of the class,” they said. “Sit
up on the front. And get your head up. You can’t learn
anything with your head down. Believe – have faith – try
again!” And since there was nothing left to lose, I did –
and my world began to change. While I haven’t won the Nobel
Prize, I didn’t go to prison either. And that’s where I
might well have been headed were it not for good human
beings who taught me “As a man thinketh…so is he.”
you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to
the mountain, ‘Move,’ and it will move. Nothing will be
impossible for you.”