Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson



     What do you think it is?  The greatest secret I mean.  What would you choose as the most helpful, most important, most results-producing strategy to cope with and resolve the challenges of life?  Philosophers, clerics, and thinkers have been pondering the question for centuries, yet apparently even the brilliant, well known, and famous have trouble agreeing.  There is a popular movie at the moment titled “The Secret.”  This group’s contention is that the greatest secret can be found by analyzing the greatest minds of history and how they thought.  The authors of The Secret believe we can study how famous people approached life, and then improve our lives by imitating those same thinking processes used by the wealthy and successful.
     Earl Nightingale, famous radio voice from the fifties and sixties, penned a classic best seller called “The Greatest Secret” some years ago.  This immensely popular book contended the “secret” was “…our lives tend to move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.”   So Nightingale offered that to produce the most powerful results, we must control our thinking…and what we focus on determines our life.  Obviously, the key according to Nightingale, involved thinking the right way.
     Sigmund Freud said the secret to happiness and a fulfilled life was “love and work.”  Interestingly, the Mormon doctrine expresses a similar view – that love, work, and family hold the secrets to a fulfilled life and joy.  Seems we have plenty of opinions from people in all walks of life, and there are a number of differing views.   With all that said, here is a question for you - actually two…
     Have you ever thought about the secret?
     If so, what do you think the secret is?
     It’s an important question, because I’m convinced that to do our best – no matter what activity we are engaged in - we must consider how we think about the process.  Secondly, the honest truth is…it’s not so terribly important what some famous person thinks.  After all, they’re famous.  What is important is what we think.  What key behavior, strategy, or approach might help us most when the chips are down?  Is there any one key that can aid us in rising from the ashes when we have been bucked off, knocked down, and defeated?  How do we hang on when we are slipping?  I’ve found such a key and have come to believe it is the great secret of life – at least for me.  And you can have all of it you want because there is plenty of this one to go around.  You don’t have to be smart, rich, or handsome to use it either.
     Years ago, my friend, Bronc, showed me a rope trick Will Rogers always performed. 
     “You can use this to encourage people,” he said.  “It’ll probably take you a long time to learn it ‘cause you’re so old,” he laughed, “but you can do it.”
     Once home, I practiced the maneuver until exhaustion overcame me, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it.  A few weeks later, I encountered Bronc at a roping…
     “How are you coming with your assignment?” he asked.
     “Oh, that,” I said looking away.  “Uh, I couldn’t do it, Bronc.  I tried and tried, but I just can’t do it.  You know, old dog – new tricks.  That sort of thing…”
     Bronc thought for a moment and said, “Wait a minute.  You’re going around the country telling people they can do more than they ever dreamed, and you can’t learn a little rope trick?” 
     Man, that hurt.  I was busted.  “Okay,” I said.  “What do I need to do?”
     And Bronc told me the secret. 

     Years ago, I was seriously failing in my business.  In desperation, I called an old mentor of mine and explained the problem.  “It’s hopeless,” I began.  “When I tell publishers about my books and why I write them, they hang up before I’m finished speaking – or even worse, they start laughing, then hang up.  I just can’t get a book published.”
     “You know why, don’t you?” asked my mentor and friend.
     “No, of course I don’t know why.  That’s why I’m calling you,” I answered.
     And my friend told me the secret. 

     Years ago, I was standing in the barn when I heard…
     “Dad?”  There stood my daughter – a small fourth-grader in those days.
     “Dad, I have a target,” she said.  “ I want to win something at the school.”
     “Like what?” I asked smiling.
     “Well, I have several choices,” she said with a serious look on her face.  “If I increase my choices, I increase my chances.  I want to win first chair in band, or cheerleader, or I want to win something in a beauty contest.”
     “That’s good,” I said - and then, I told her the secret.
     I didn’t know it, but I created a little monster in my barn that day – a fierce little fighter who simply would not quit.  For the next eight years, I watched my daughter fail repeatedly at each and every task she attempted.  She never made first chair, never won anything in any beauty contest, and was never a cheerleader.   Eight years after that initial conversation, I once again saw my daughter standing in that same place in the barn…
     No longer a little fourth-grader, but now an almost grown eighteen-year old woman with beautiful eyes.  “Where are you going, dear?” I asked her.
     “I’m going to the band hall,” she said.  “I’m trying out for Drum Major.”
     My heart sank.  I wanted to tell her to stop this foolishness.  The pain of watching her try so hard and fail and fail was becoming too much to bear.  Yet my daughter thought I was going to say something else.
     “I know, dad,” she said.  “If I fail, I know what to do.”  And she drove away.  A short time later, I went to bed with a heavy heart.  I went to bed early to avoid having to see the pain in her eyes when she came home.
     At 10:30 p.m. my back door exploded with a “BOOM!”  Then, I heard the sound of rushing feet down the hall…boom, boom, boom, boom!  My daughter hit my bedroom door like a rocket and landed some ten feet in the center of the room.
     “I GOT IT!”  she said in a stage whisper.
     Praying this was not a dream, I slowly raised myself to an upright, sitting position in bed.
     “Tell me about it,” I said.
     “Well,” she began breathlessly, “after the tryouts, the band director said, ‘Some of you have more talent than others, and some have more coordination, but there is one… there is one I’ve been watching since the fourth grade.  Every time she stumbled, she continued on.  Every time she fell, she rose again.  That’s the kind of person we need to lead us in the band, and that’s the kind of person we need to lead us in life.  Terri is the new Drum Major!’ That’s what he said, daddy.  What do you think about that?” 

     And there you have it, brothers and sisters…the great secret.  That’s what Bronc told me when I said I just couldn’t do the rope trick.  “Try again,” he said.
     “You don’t understand, Bronc.  I’ve tried a thousand times,” I whined at him.
     “Great!” he said.  “You’re half-way there!  Try again.”  And now I’ve spun the rope for thousands.
     When I said, “I can’t get my books published…” the old mentor said, “You know what to do.  Try again.”  Now I have eight.  
     My daughter failed for eight years, but because she kept on…she won.
     So the makers of the movie called The Secret have theirs and Earl Nightingale has his.  Freud had his, as do the Mormons, and scores of others have theirs…and I have mine.
     At first, I was deeply disappointed that the Lord seemed to have given me only one gift – the ability to try again.  Now I know He could not have given me a single thing more precious than that.  And here’s the good news.  I’m not the only one he gave that gift…
He gave it to you as well. 

Ed. Note – Michael Johnson’s Healing Shine – A Spiritual Assignment was named “Best Audio Book” of the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival, and “First Runner-Up” at the 2007 New York Book Festival.  Read more of the author’s seven-year spiritual journey with the great – but severely troubled - roping horse called Shine at michaeljohnsonbooks.com

Michael's latest release, Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays and excerpts from radio performances about good people and good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately 8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005.

Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

Michael & Blue

Healing Shine


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