My dad always taught me to ‘think like a Texan’. He used to say ‘I like Texas and Texans’. ‘In our beloved Texas, all things are bigger. When a Texan wins, he wins big. And when a Texan loses, he loses big’. ‘Do Texans like losing?” I asked my dad, and he replied ‘That is not what I say. No one likes to lose’. He said: ‘Show me happy losers, and I show you losers’.
That’s the Texan attitude toward taking risks. I’m talking about reward and failure, it’s all about how Texans handle life. They live and think big. So different from most people that live around here. When it comes to money, the people from here live like roaches, and are so afraid that somebody might see them, while the whimper if a grocery help will shortchange them a quarter’, my dad kept on talking. ‘That Texas attitude is what I like best about the Texans.’
Texans are damn proud when they’re wining, and they’ll be bragging when they’ll lose. In Texas they have a saying”: ‘If you go broke, go big. You don’t like to admit that you went bust over a duplex.’ My dad kept on telling Mike and me that the key reason for not being financially successful was that most people were playing it always too safe: ‘People are so terrified to lose that of course they’ll lose’. Those were his words. Fran Tarkenton, a famous NFL quarterback back in the day, said the same thing in yet another way: ‘Winning is meaning you’re not afraid to lose.’
Well, in my personal life I noticed that usually winning follows losing. Before I learned how to ride my bike well, I first needed to fall down several times, and I never met a golf player who hadn’t ever lost a golf ball. I’ve never encountered anyone who had never had their heart broken before falling in love, and I’ve never talked to a rich person who never had lost any money. So for most individuals, the key reason why they won’t win financially lies in the fact that they get more hurt by losing money than feel the joy of gaining it.
Another Texan saying is: ‘Everybody wants to get to heaven, yet nobody wants to die.’ The majority of people keep dreaming of getting rich, but they are so terrified they’ll lose money that they’ll never make it to heaven. Our dad was rich, and he was always telling Mike and me some stories about his visits to Texas. He said that if you really wanted to learn all about the Texan attitude of how you should handle risk, failure, and losing, come to San Antonio and pay a visit to the Alamo.
The great story of the Alamo is about some brave people who decided to fight on, while they knew there wasn’t any hope of success. These brave men chose to get killed rather than surrender, and this inspiring story tells you a lot about the Texan mentality.
But of course, the fact that these brave men got their asses kicked remains a tragic military defeat. So the question is: ‘How do the Texans deal with failure?’ Well, they’ll keep on shouting: ‘Remember the Alamo!’ Mike and I were hearing this story over and over again, and our dad used to tell us this story whenever he was nervous, when he was involved in some big deal. Every time that my dad was afraid of losing or making a big mistake, he used to tell us this story.
Telling this story strengthened him. It was reminding him that he, at all times, could turn a loss into a great win. My dad understood that he would only get stronger and smarter through failure, though he never wanted to lose, of course. My dad just knew and understood who he was, and in what way he would be taking a loss. He just would take the loss to turn it into a win.
That’s exactly what made my father a winner and all the others losers. His attitude was giving him the courage for crossing the line at the times that others backed out. ‘That’s what I like so much about Texans’, my daddy would say. ‘At the Alamo, they looked at a major failure and had the courage to turn it into great inspiration, and they made it a landmark that draws in millions of tourists and dollars.’
But his words that probably impressed me the most today were these: ‘Texans will not bury their failures, they will get inspired by them. Texans will be taking their failures to transform them into rallying cries. Failures are still inspiring Texans to become winners. But this credo is not for Texans only. This is the credo for all winners.’