Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
A novel written by Charles
Dickens in serialized form from 1860 to 1861. The story
tells the tale of the orphan “Pip,” and his coming of age.
Along the way, he has the good fortune to find a
“benefactor,” thus causing Pip to have “great expectations”
that someday he will inherit money and property, and become
a fine English gentleman. Naturally, life doesn’t work out
quite like Pip planned. And William Shakespeare said,
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” So it might
seem – to be safe and avoid disappointment - we should avoid
having “expectations” of any kind?
I’ve written a few children’s books, another about a
frog, and one about a squirrelly horse named Shine, (he says
the same thing about me) so who in the world am I to argue
with two of the most famous writers who ever lived? But
sorry, Charlie and Bill…you’re wrong. Your meaning would
have been more accurate had you said, “Unrealistic
expectations are the root of heartache.” Other kinds of
expectations give us real and lasting joy, and our lives
would be so much less if we didn’t have those “right kind”
Maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up? Should we? I
know we should.
Many people struggle with feelings of inadequacy. A
good number of us think our limitations are too severe to
compete successfully in the world. But the truth is no
matter how meager our abilities, we can do more than
we think. We are more than we think; we are stronger than
we know. When people tell us we can’t – this is so hard to
see – that is their problem…not ours. The world is
absolutely overflowing with stories of people – and
racehorses, by the way – that others said would never make
it. From Elvis and Garth Brooks, to Secretariat and Three
Bars, there is an endless line of losers, misfits, and
no-goods, who were written off by the experts of the world.
Yet those who had no ability, no talent - and no speed -
came back to dominate that same world. I have heard the
story so much, I sometimes think half of all college
graduates were told, “You’re not good college material,” by
some professor - and that so incensed the person, they vowed
that they would succeed or die trying. (And by the way, any
college professor who would tell someone they are not “good
college material” is not “good professor” material.)
When discussing this topic with others, people –
non-believers – often say, “Well, we can’t leap over tall
buildings or play running back in the NFL. We need to be
While that is certainly true, it’s also true we cannot
know the limits of our potential until we have exhausted all
the try of every bone in our body. We can’t all be stars,
be we can all twinkle more than we once did.
Let’s say we want to go back to school in life.
Immediately, that voice inside starts saying things like
“You’re too old. You were never a good student before, why
would you be one now? Everyone there will be younger than
you - and smarter than you - and besides you have been out
of school so long, you could never compete with those
people. Don’t get your hopes up.”
But if you could find the courage to actually
try, you would find that negative inner-demon voice
isn’t telling the whole truth. First of all, we are never
too old. Secondly, very few of us were good students at
sixteen – but most all of us are excellent students at 30,
40, and at 55, because we are scared! As adults, we
now know we must go to class, we must study
and work hard, or else this can’t work. If we actually go
to school, we will find some younger students who are
smarter, but just as many – or more – who are not. (It’s
easy to beat people who stay drunk and don’t go to class.)
And we will find older students who are just like us –
scared - and those people will become our friends, and our
shared struggle will generate strength in us both.
Some professors will be jerks, but others will admire
us for trying and become mentors that help us do things in
life we never dreamed. All of that, of course, is
predicated on actually going, actually trying, and actually
One of my favorite jokes…
Five frogs sittin’ on a log…
One decides to jump off…
How many frogs left sittin’ on the log?
Ans. Five (not four). Why?
Ans. Because “deciding” to jump off, and actually
jumping off are two different things.
So it is in all walks of life. Doesn’t matter if you
want to rope, hit a golf ball, play a violin, or become a
salesman. Fix your eyes on the prize. Don’t worry about
food and drink. Wade in. When you fall, get up. Try
again. All of us have meager abilities. No matter. No
matter how meager our abilities, no matter how limited our
talents; our gifts are more than adequate to achieve our
heart's desire. We have not been short-changed. Will you be
disappointed? Will you fail and fall? Of course you will.
That’s why it’s called life! Get up!
Victory only comes after many failures.
Get your hopes up.
Ed. Note: In January of 2012,
RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and
Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded
segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by
Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael
Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of
Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an
all-purpose feed designed for the horse. Total Feeds, Inc.
sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.