12 Things Anyone Can Master to Become a Better Roper with Patrick Smith
Trevor Brazile and I started Driven Services six years ago. I’ve been the CEO, involved in the business every day. For this entire time, I’ve expressed my thoughts and feelings about excellence, about how our team needs to conduct themselves every day for this business to succeed.
Want to learn more from Patrick Smith? Watch his Driven, Driven 2.0 and Legend DVDs, plus more roping, training and mental tips at Roping.com.
But in early April, we had an engine blow up in a truck. I found a mechanic in Weatherford, so I hauled it there and dropped it off, never looking inside. By the end of the week, the garage called me to come pick up the truck. When I got in it, I was devastated. I was so embarrassed. The inside of the truck was a complete disaster, and they told me it had blown up because we had been running it without an air filter. I made a decision right then and there that I was done talking about excellence. I was going to show everybody exactly what I mean—by doing something that would stick.
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Monday morning, I got to our shop in Midland, and I just started cleaning. I started stripping everything out. I was underneath shelves with a broom and dustpan, working from first thing in the morning until 10 the first night, 11 the second night and midnight the third night. In that time, I had five different employees walk into the shop in disbelief, and one in particular who told me he was going to quit his job, but he was so inspired by what he saw, he wanted to be a part of it.
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I’m working every day on showing our team that excellence is not a word: it’s a culture, and it’s a lifestyle. These days, I think about excellence in my business, family and team roping this way. There are parts of life that are in our control, and parts we can’t do anything about. But striving for excellence in everything we can control can have a direct impact on every part of our lives.
1. Attitude. Your attitude is always in your control, no matter how hard it might feel.
2. Planning. Life doesn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan at all times. I like to take five minutes every morning to make a plan for what I want to accomplish every day, and how I’m going to accomplish it.
3. Punctuality. Nothing drives me crazy like being late. I can’t stand making people wait on me. People who are late feel like their time is more important than anyone else’s. That’s something I take to heart, and it trickles down to so many other parts of life.
4. Faith. Your integrity and your beliefs can be controlled by taking the time to remind yourself of what you’re really here for and what’s really important. Keep the big picture mentality and don’t get caught up in the material things. When you look back later in life, the smaller things were the bigger things—the time with your children, your friends, helping others. I’m as guilty as anyone, but it’s important we all strive to get better at that.
5. Fitness. For you and your horses. I’m getting older and starting to feel things I used to not feel. I know it’s an everyday battle. The harder I fight that, the longer I’ll last. Same for your horses. If you keep them fit, fed, healthy and in shape, the longer they’ll perform.
6. Discipline. Choose the pain of discipline or choose the pain of dealing with the undisciplined later. You don’t get out of it pain-free either way. If you don’t take care of your truck because it’s a pain to stop and change an air filter, don’t worry. It will be a bigger pain later on. That applies to everything in life. That applies to your relationships, your spouse, your children, your friends, your work ethic, your horses, your practice sessions, you name it.
7. Appearance. I am not a Facebook or Instagram guy, and I’m not about showing off at all. When I started roping, I wore the same kind of pants and the same Walmart white tees every single day. It made no sense to have nice shirts, nor could I afford them. But with everything I’ve gone through in life, I’ve really come to appreciate the details. You start with the small things, and it trickles into the larger things. If you see a sponsor at a roping, and you’re in a pressed shirt with his logo on it, starched jeans and cowboy hat, he’s a lot more likely to hand you some fuel money than if you’re in a wrinkled t-shirt and ball cap.
8. Sportsmanship. There’s a lot of people out there who believe your legacy is built on statistics. I don’t believe that’s the case. I roped with Trevor for 10 years. He’s the greatest statistically of all time, but that’s not what people who know him will tell you about him. We’ll say he enjoyed it, tell you about his sense of humor, how he took time for the small things outside of rodeo, how he helped people.
9. Teachability. You never have it figured out. No matter how well it’s going or how much you’re winning, no matter how great it seems, there will be times when you need foundation, and that comes from good, sound information. My Christian values mean so much to me and I love to surround myself with men who are mentors to me in their 70s to sit and listen to. If you can surround yourself with wisdom, and keep your mouth shut, that’s priceless. I’m drawn to wisdom. I pray for it all the time.
10. Balance.Trying to run a business, be a good dad, be a good husband and compete with the best in the world has been so challenging for me in the last six years. It’s impossible to not drop the ball. Staying balanced means not dropping the ball too many times in a row in the same area. When I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do, I have to focus on it—be it at work, at home or in the arena.
11. Competition. Iron sharpens iron. Lately, one of the best things that’s happened to me is Junior Nogueira coming over to rope. We trade off heading and heeling for one another. I see so many things that he does that I should be working on, that I need to do better, and he says the same when he’s heading for me. You can’t be the best one around. If I’m the only heeler in the practice pen, I don’t have anyone pushing me to be better.
12. Communication. Communication is a short cut that will save you so much time. Just telling someone the truth, openly, is critical to any relationship. That’s true in business, roping partnerships, horse deals, friends and family. The higher level of communication you can have, the better it makes it for everybody.
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