How Bull Riding Taught Me About the Importance of Life

PLEASE READ: I decided to give myself a fresh start. Read more about that here.

You’d think that spending eight seconds on the back of raging bull would be easy. But as a person who’s done it a few times, I assure you that it’s not.

In fact it’s more than difficult, almost impossible – depending on which bull you draw.

I’m sure that most of you don’t know this, but years ago when I was younger I spent many afternoons on the back of a 2000 pound animal that wanted nothing more than to throw me off and put it’s horns through my side.

That sounds pretty dramatic, and let me assure you, riding a bull really is.

Parallels in Life

You might wonder how bull riding taught me a life lesson that I’ll never forget. All of us are wired differently, and we all have things that fulfill us.

We all have the need for speed, or the need to escape reality – even for a minute – to experience what life, simply by itself, cannot provide.

For some folks it’s drugs, others it’s alcohol and for a lot of us it’s success and money.

We live recklessly in the pursuit of our “fix” and ignore the warning signs that in some capacity overtake our common sense.

The Dangerous Appeal

If you want to understand the depth of consequences that our “fix” can sometimes bring us, go ahead and watch this video and you’ll see.

If you happened to miss the meaning behind the title of that video, maybe seeing this will clear things up.

Lane Frost Headstone

Lane Frost was a true cowboy, one of the best bull riders of his day. It’s tragically clear that he wasn’t bigger than life, nor bigger than the bull.

While I understand that most of you don’t ride bulls, there are some parallels here about that which are undeniable.

Habits, hobbies, our business and work lives are among the many desires that pull us so tightly that we fail to see the consequences of our decisions. And most importantly how those choices affect those we love.

Priorities and Why They Matter

I’ll be willing to bet that most of you are married and some of you have kids. While bull riding seems like an extraordinary illustration, I encourage you to keep reading.

Lane’s death was instantaneous, and most certainly a tragedy.

But I’ll tell you there are countless wives, husbands and children who also think it’s tragic to be neglected and not prioritized – to not feel important.

In other words, they are dying a slow death. Which is just as much a tragedy as an instantaneous one.

The Plank in My Own Eye

I’m not trying to point out specks in your eyes here, rather writing this in a reflective way – pointing the finger at myself. You know, looking at the man in the mirror.

I spend a lot of time online, and fortunately I can do it from home. This means I’m accessible to my wife Shelly pretty much at any given moment during the day.

It also means that I’m home at 4:00 when my son Zach wants to play in the basement.

But I can assure you it also means that I have access to “do work” whenever I want, and the pull is to do it all the time.

It’s very easy for me to close the door and shut my family out. And far too often, I do that – which is something I’m actively working on.

It’s also easy for some of you to stay late at the office to get one more project done. To make a few more thousand dollars. To take one more drink at that bar.

The Last Ride

Back to the bull riding analogy, and how it taught me the importance of life.

It was a hot summer day when I wanted to take one more ride. I just couldn’t get enough, and thought one more “fix” would satisfy me.

Five seconds later, it was a decision that nearly cost me my life. I was thrown into the dirt, and by the time I got to my knees, I was eye to eye with a 2,000 pound bull.

Three feet away.

Let me tell you what kinds of things go through your head when you’re that close to death. They aren’t pretty, and usually result in things becoming crystal clear.

Things you should have done. Words you should have spoken. Time you should have spent with the people you love.

A Challenge

When you say wedding vows, you relinquish the ability in your life to be selfish. When you get married, there are two people you need to consider and when you have kids that becomes three, or four, or five.

I am challenging myself, and I challenge you as well to look inward and to identify what stands in the way of the relationships you have with people that matter to you. Or the ones where you matter to them.

Spend more time living life, rather than trying to escape it.

Be available. Be accessible.

Make time, before it’s too late.