The Importance of Relationships (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Relationships are a fundamental part of life and can many times dictate the course our life takes. Personally, there are three areas or types of relationships that challenge and encourage me:

First and foremost are the relationships with people who cause me to be a better Christian. Second are the relationships and people that cause me to be a better roper. Third are those relationships that stretch and challenge me to be a better businessman.

When I was about sixteen and just starting to get serious about roping, a neighbor who was a little older than me came over and wanted to learn to team rope. I was excited because he wanted to head and I never got to heel. After several unsuccessful, but fun practice sessions, I still hadn’t gotten to heel because he couldn’t catch.

After one such visit, my dad, a man of very few words, made the comment, “You probably shouldn’t be roping with that boy.” My dad recognized the fact that my friend didn’t have much interest in getting better even though he was having a lot of fun. He also knew how serious I was about roping and knew this would not help me, and even worse, probably hurt what I was trying to accomplish.

The same holds true with personal relationships and the friends we choose. You will either pull them down to your level or they’ll pull you up to their level or vice versa. For that reason it’s important to surround yourself with people you respect. Like the old saying goes, “It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you’re hanging out with buzzards.”

If your friends are pulling you down, personally or professionally, either try to help them change or put a little distance between you. The quality of your friends has a huge impact on the quality of your life.

You can learn something from everyone – whether it’s learning from their mistakes or accomplishments. If you’re living right, God strategically places people in your life that can make a major impact. When I was younger sometimes I recognized this when it was happening and sometimes I didn’t.

It’s vital to be around people who challenge and encourage you. More importantly, you should realize that you might be just what someone else needs for encouragement and a relationship where you will be the mentor.

As for the rodeo scene, we’re back in the rat race. It’s been a hectic driving/flying scheduling challenge between Calgary, Nampa, Salinas, etc. I have to say that Calgary gave me a nice break because I had ten days of pure enjoyment in one spot while I was there.
Calgary has raised the bar and changed rodeo as we know it. They invited twenty contestants in each event and added over a million dollars to the prize money. Jerome Schneeburger won first which paid him $100,000. Winning a couple of rounds and third in the average paid me $25,000.

It’s a cowboy’s dream come true. I got to stay in one place for ten days, had no entry fees and was paid $1,000 just for showing up. It was great for the contestants and for the fans. The first day alone brought in over a million dollars in ticket sales.

This is better for rodeo – whether you’re at the top or a #1 calf roper. Something like this should be embraced. Think about it, when did the PGA become so popular? When Tiger Woods became a super star. That’s when golf became a spectator sport. I’m a golf fan, but even more so because they captivated me as a spectator.

There will be many who complain that they don’t get the opportunity to qualify the rodeos with limited entries. Sure you do. Put this paper down, go outside and practice and I’ll see you down the line.

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