Your attitude carries over and affects your performance. It can also carry over to your partner and affect his or her performance. For that matter, it can affect your family life. After all these years, I almost feel like a roping psychologist. Sometimes us older guys look at the younger guys and analyze them and where they are. They're young and carefree, and they take chances. They're out to prove how "bad" (good) they are. We've all been there, and it's fun. Once you get on a winning team, and your team has some success, you put a lot of expectations on yourself. Your partner's depending on you, and you know what financial success is all about. Family responsibilities can cause you to be more conservative in your outlook and your lifestyle. You aren't as apt to take so many chances and throw caution to the wind if you have a wife and kids at home.
When you first start off, you have nothing to lose until you prove to yourself and everyone else that you're a consistent winner; that you're going to make it in the long haul. That's when it's easy to have a good attitude.
Winning changes your attitude. It builds your confidence. Everyone's aware of who the hot new guys are coming up. As you get into your career, you have to be careful of the pressures of life. As you start a family, it takes away your focus on certain things. You want to spend more time with your wife and kids. It's hard to be the best at everything-the best husband, father and competitor. But when it's time to rope, you need to keep your eye on the ball.
About the time your career's going good and your sponsorships have taken off, your horse can come up lame and all the good things that seemed so easy can reverse themselves. Maybe your horse loses a step and you make a few bad financial decisions. That can make you think you need to be conservative. If you get behind on your bills, it can affect your confidence, your roping and your team.
That's when you have to soul-search and try to get back on track with what was making you successful before. It can be a real struggle. You've tasted winning. You need to keep working hard, and if you have it in you, it'll turn around.
To rope for a living you have to be mentally tough to endure the roller coaster that comes with all the ups and downs. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it?
It can be so hard to keep a good attitude when you're spending $2,000 a week on traveling expenses and entry fees, and you aren't winning. After a few weeks of not winning anything-talk about pressure. If I had it to do over, I'd remember that they can have rodeos without me. There are times in every career when maybe you need to go home, regroup and get rejuvenated. There are times when I really struggle and need to get home to freshen up my attitude. I've done it before, where I went home, regrouped and got my game on for the next year.
No matter what the sport, it seems like the guys who have fun at it do the best. People who excel in every sport have that attitude. They love it.
Like a lot of other things in life, there's a fine line when it comes to attitude. You need to be confident, but not cross that line into arrogance. Confidence is a big part of a good attitude. Sometimes, when you draw up first and last and know you have to make an extra trip, it's easy to have a bad attitude. But you can let those little things eat at you and defeat you before you ever show up. That can happen when you're the first team out at a roping or rodeo, too. You need to learn not to let your emotions dictate your thought process and poison your mind.
We always talk about the bad attitude. It's the one that's the poison. How do you battle the bad attitude? When your finances revolve around your performance, it can sour your attitude. You put your money up and take a big gamble.
I don't care how positive a person you are, if you get up bad and draw steers you have no chance on, that can beat you down. But you have to keep your head up, and try your hardest every time,
no matter what.
Just keep entering and use the positive confession that it's going to turn around. One thing you need to learn if you rope a lot is that it can turn around at any time. And the momentum can swing any which way.
The National Finals is such a critical time for every guy who ropes for a living. If you don't start the week off on the right foot, the momentum starts to change and your attitude can start to change. Each night, you drain a little more confidence. The only way out is to bow up and go for it again the next night. If you have a bad night, that's the longest 24-hour wait you'll ever have before you run your next one.
But you have to force yourself into a good attitude, and keep thinking, "Tonight's the night. We're going to get 'em tonight." You need to keep pumping yourself up again. You can go from being the most depressed person in the world to winning the go-round, $14,000 and getting your buckle at the Gold Coast the very next night. Then you can't wait for the next 24-hour period to pass so you can get back over there.