Are You All In? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The other day, I had to go to Amarillo to the vet, get my horse shod, and do some other errands. My mom happened to have a doctor appointment at the same time so we arranged our schedules to go together. That gave us two hours, each way, to visit and spend some time together.

I won’t say I’m a favorite, but I am the last of five and the baby of the babies. So there’s not much I can do wrong in my mother’s eyes. When we get a chance to spend time one-on-one, it usually doesn’t take long for the conversation to get deep. However, I was more than surprised by what she had to say:

“When you were about 17 and decided you wanted to rope, I’ve never seen anyone, in my lifetime, who was as committed and determined once you knew what you wanted. You weren’t going to accept anything but the best from yourself. You were working towards a world championship and weren’t like a kid anymore. Once you had that goal, you went at it like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

“Since winning the world in ’08, I know you’ve had surgeries and health problems, but you just haven’t roped the same. You’ve got the ranch, the cattle business, your bull business and all your other businesses. If you’re going to rope, you better make it your top priority and quit splitting time with all these other things.”

Now I’m usually the one who’s always pumping everyone up and here my mom’s telling me if I’m going to do it, I better be all in. You can’t split a career in half and see how it works. It got me to thinking how I’ve been cheating myself. When you’re not healthy, it’s easy to spend time doing other things.

The fact is I’ve never had a “Plan B.” I’ve been asked over and over what my plans were if roping didn’t work out. I’ve never given myself an out—I just don’t have a Plan B. One thing I can’t deal with, is not performing to the best of my ability. That’s just not acceptable to me.

My mom then said, “You’ve always been someone who had something to prove, more to yourself than anyone. Now, you do have something to prove because everyone thinks you’re too old, too broke down, you work out too much. Now, you have something to prove.”

I’ve always been a student of the game and a fan of any success story. I like to hear how the athletic brain works and how to deal with pressure. I wrote down a quote one day that said, “Some people go to seminars, read books, or listen to tapes on how to be successful and how to win. Other people simply win.”  Not to say you can’t learn something, but the way I win is the way I win. What works for a pro basketball player may not work for me.

This conversation with my mother means a lot, especially if you know our relationship. She was not calling me out, she was revving me up. She knows me and how I work. There’s no greater love for us than God, but a mother’s love is a close second. I’m sorrowful for people who don’t have that relationship with their mother. I do and I’ve been blessed with a wife that has that special love and bond with our children.

My dad’s advice is infrequent and important. He’s like E.F. Hutton—when he speaks, I’m listening. But for my mom to call me out, so to speak, was so unusual it caught me by surprise. The timing was perfect and exactly what I needed to hear. She more or less asked me, “Are you all in?”

“Yes, Mom; yes, I am.”

If there’s anything you would like me to write about, please send me an email at Until next month, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.

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