By Ron Rabou
Life’s best lessons are often learned on the farm. There are no weekends, no holidays, no set hours of nine to five. There is no comp time, vacation time, benefits package, sick leave or retirement. There is just…well…work. That’s it.
On a farm or ranch there is always something to do. There’s always a job. And if we aren’t given one, we learn to find one.
The lessons I learned on our family ranch still serve as a powerful reminder of how to deal with the realities of life I have encountered as an adult. Those things can’t be learned in a book or at a seminar. They can’t be learned in school or through multiple degrees.
When it’s a raging blizzard and we can’t see three feet in front of us, with the wind and snow pelting our face relentlessly, the frigid temperatures are determined to break our resolve.
But, in our mind, the only thing we can think about is the goal and the mission – the cattle must be fed and the corrals and shelters must be cleared, or we risk losing the only income source we have. So, we press on. We are undeterred by the elements. We focus on what we must get done, and we don’t quit until we do.
Nearly everyone with an agriculture background has a similar story. A story about taking the next step even when they think they can’t.
I’d like to share one of those stories today. Let me introduce you to Sam.
Over the past several years, I have worked with Sam, and he has become my friend. He’s an awesome guy. He works hard, is raising two incredibly talented sons, he is highly successful in his career, and he is a total machine when it comes to racing bikes and working out.
He never stops working on becoming the best version of himself, and he’s always smiling. He’s truly an inspiration.
Just over a year ago, Sam was goose hunting on a beautiful, somewhat snowy Colorado morning. He and his buddies arose from their layout blinds and were admiring their recent volley of shots, which downed several geese, when Sam’s bird dog jumped from the blind to retrieve the birds.
In doing so, he stepped on the trigger of Sam’s shotgun, causing the gun to fire, so it literally blew off Sam’s leg just above his ankle. Sam was rapidly bleeding to death. His hunting partners sprang into action, and their quick thinking and heroic efforts undoubtedly helped save Sam’s life.
After arriving at the hospital, Sam’s life hung in the balance. Doctors worked tirelessly for over eight hours and transfused 11 units of blood into his body. Sam tells me the body only contains about 12 units.
Doctors placed Sam in an induced coma, until they eventually woke him to talk about what needed to be done. Upon hearing his choices, Sam elected to have his leg removed below the knee. A few days passed and he returned home, where he would be faced with the reality of this life-changing event.
Each time I spoke with him, I was completely amazed by his attitude, his focus, his determination and his continuous, contagious smile. If I’m real honest, it was completely mind-blowing.
How is it possible to be so positive and so focused on relearning and rebuilding? No pity party, no “woe is me,” just grit, tenacity and determination. Even when he was faced with another surgery to take more of the leg, he never lost his resolve.
You see, to Sam, he was just feeding the cows in a raging blizzard. This is what he knows. His childhood experience on his family farm taught him to work until he gets the job done, no matter what kind of job it is and what it entails.
If we’re sick, hurt or sad, we just push through. If everything in us is telling us we can’t, we do it anyway. We do whatever we need to do to get to where we want to be.
In a recent podcast, I heard Sam talk about when people say, “I wish I could… (insert wish).” His response? “Well then just do it! That’s just the saddest excuse ever.”
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “stuff” of life, we forget to think about the fact that maybe the things that happened TO us, really may have happened FOR us.
Today, Sam is focused on “Sam 2.0.” He describes it as his version of being even better than he was before the accident. And, if he can inspire just one person to do the same, he’s helped make the world a better place.
Recently, Sam and I toasted to “2.0,” and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, he would smoke me in a foot race. His can-do spirit is evident in all he does.
May we all have the resolve of Sam, look at our own lives and declare, “I am determined. I am worthy. I am strong. I am tenacious. I am courageous.”
I am and I can, thanks to Sam. Thanks, brother, for inspiring me and the rest of this world.
Sam can be found on Instagram @sammybev2.0.