I was a rookie in 2012, and I was as serious then as I am now, maybe even more. I worked at it as hard as I do now, maybe even harder. But the biggest thing that I've learned and I would tell my Resistol Rookie self is to enjoy it. There's no shame in enjoying the day-to-day process.
I went through a part of my roping that I felt like if I was taking it serious then I couldn't enjoy being serious about something—whatever that means. I was so serious.
Drew Horner and I actually made the Finals the next year after my rookie year. I talked to Drew just the other day and I told him, 'Man, I wish I would have enjoyed it more for myself and for the people around me.' I don't think I made it miserable for anyone, but I would just suggest that because I had the work ethic and I had a lot of things right that I would almost beat myself down for purpose of motivation.
[Read More: Looking Ahead with Buddy Hawkins]
I'm not saying that you never need to be hard on yourself because every great athlete at some point is. I had excelled from that point on because I'm good at heeling, not because I bullied myself. I think that's the biggest thing.
The only other thing would be to enjoy the process of working at a craft, whatever that craft is. I feel like now I can go onto another sport and fall in love with the process. If we fall in love with the process then we can enjoy getting up every day and work at doing what we do. If we hate the process and the only joy that we get is from the outcome. Then once we have the outcome, which often we don't love the outcome, then we're going to hate most of our lives.
If we learn to love the process then we learn to enjoy every day, whether you're riding a young horse or dragging the arena. I enjoy the entire process. I would clean all my own stalls and shoe all my own horses. I'd do it all day because I love all of it, but I have to limit it.
The other thing I learned is to work smart. I used to sleep two to five hours a night all summer and have myself right on the edge of drained. I thought that the guys that work the hardest and sleep the least were going to be the best. I was never a wild-party, stay-out-all-night type of guy. I would work hard.
Now I have my brother Josh driving for me full-time now. He helps me at practice every day and videos. He works a full-time job helping me year-round now. Having him now allows me to focus on the things that I can't hire someone to do. I can't hire someone to heel for me so I need to focus on my heeling. I need to focus on my horses being healthy and knowing what they need.
I'm learning that we're all limited on how many great decisions we can make per day. I don't want to waste a great decision on cleaning stalls or vacuuming out the floorboard of the truck. I want to save my decisions for training and preparation.