Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     It is now. An old familiar tune, I mean. For the longest time, I couldn't hear it 'cause I didn't know it was there or where to look. Like that old Don Williams song, I suppose - wasted a lot of time looking in all the wrong places. Now, it seems I hear it everywhere I go. It's all in the listening and watching, you know – knowing what to listen for. Been looking for it so long. Haunts me – “What makes us rise? What helps us? How do you reach the kid? How do you reach the horse?” And so many times, I've wondered about my obsession with that. What was it in me that made me look so hard? Now I know...'cause when I started finding it – knowing what to listen for – the music was just so sweet. So sweet sometimes it made your teeth hurt.
     I saw the young fellow the other day – standing in the parking lot of the local Feed and Seed surrounded by kids, all of whom were waiting to sign up for the dummy roping. The store was having one of those customer appreciation days with burgers and games. I waited for a time, then approached him during a break. “Do you go to school here?” I asked.
     “No sir,” he said, offering his hand and a smile. “I graduated from Oklahoma State a few years ago. I'm a salesman. I have the Mid-South Region, and I mostly make these shows.”
     “How did you get in this business?” I asked. I always ask that of every salesman I meet. I'm fascinated with salesmen. You can learn so much from them...even the young ones.
     “Certainly because of my degree in Ag from OSU,” he said, “but mainly because of one class. I took this class called Ag Sales, and it changed my life.” (I heard a few notes.)
     “And what did you do in Ag Sales that was so helpful?” I asked.
     “The class had a good deal of information,” he said, “but it was the teacher, Dr. Kim Anderson, who made such a difference.” (Now all the band was warming up.)
     “Tell me about that teacher,” I said.
     “Just so many things,” he began. “I was a shy kid, nervous and all that when I began, but this teacher – he made the class enjoyable. He looked at us, called us by our names, and seemed to have some kind of faith that we could do well. He wasn't what you would call “easy,” but he could make you want to do your homework. You just knew if you did what he said, it would help you in life. As the year went on, I felt myself 'coming out of my shell' so to speak. I became more comfortable giving presentations. I guess you might say he helped me 'open up,' and believe in myself. I began to see what sales was really all about – it's not so much about 'selling' people things as it is helping others get what they want and need. My confidence grew and next thing you know, here I am traveling all over the southern U. S. earning my daily bread doing what I love.”
     As I sat there in that sunny parking lot, I could hardly hear that young man sharing his story...because the band was in full swing now - playing that same old tune I've heard so many times. That same tune special teachers in my life played for me.
     Here are some of the notes...
     “Here's what we are going do now,” they say. Next thing you know – because they believe in you - you're doing it.
     They are always glad to see you. Teachers who don't know the tune never see you at all.
     They are not easy – but they can create a desire in you to do the work, because you know the work will help you.
     Some play for humans, some for horses, and some for working dogs. But they are all playing the same song. Their music convinces us that we can.
     Maybe I was a little harsh when I said earlier I was looking for it in all the wrong places.
     Maybe I should have read Freud and Jung and all those others when searching for what really helps us, but how I wish I had listened for the music earlier in life. That song I hear when someone starts to tell me what changed their life. It's always the same story about...
     Someone who included them.
     Someone who liked them.
     Someone who believed in them.
     Someone who took the time to work with them.
     Someone who caused them to feel differently about themselves.
     Someone who made them more.
     At least after all these years, I hear it now. Every time I ask some person, “How did you get here? How did you get all this?” the band starts to play. And such sweet music it is...
     Now I hear it everywhere I go.

-- Michael Johnson                      


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