N. Ray Maxie
Risk vs Reward
we all agree that survival and/or success often depend upon one's attitude and
determination? I heartily believe a 'can do' attitude is paramount to an attitude
of doubt and fear, or hesitation and disbelief.
In recent years I have
become acquainted with and often use the old adage saying, "One’s attitude determines
their altitude”; or, how far up they can go. A strong, positive lifestyle has
Thus, having a positive, cooperative attitude can go a long
way in carrying us into new, uncharted territory where success and prosperity
may await. But, as long as we keep doing what we have always done, we will keep
getting the same results we have always gotten. Unusual risk can bring about unusual
"Survival of the fittest", as I have come to learn, can have a
double meaning. As a young athlete, I heard my football coaches often say, "This
is a game of survival, men; survival of the fittest." Or, they might use the term,
"Just be the firstest with the mostest." Somehow that sounded to me, a
bit like “the early bird gets the worm”. The idea, of course, was to be
the first with the greatest impact.
All that, as the coaches poured it
out hard and heavy upon we trainees, related to physical fitness and training.
Physical fitness and training for body conditioning and the exertion of energy
needed to play a highly physical contact sport.
But there is a whole lot
more to it than that. Like, a positive mental attitude. Superbly important, too,
are a determined spirit and an uninterrupted focus. A mind set, predetermined
to stay the course no matter what; undistracted. To obtain out-of-the-ordinary
results, we must do out-of-the-ordinary things.
It could aptly be described,
as the old-timers sometimes put it: being a bit bull headed. Being head-strong
and unyielding to negative influences of nay-sayers. A big plus in many difficult
directions life presents. Some might say, “It can’t be done.” But it was done!
It was done despite hail and high water!..... Oh yes! Step back non-believers,
or the day will never come. Learn to think outside the box.
I am highly amazed when I study and chart the migration of our families across
this great country over the past three hundred years or more. From the East Coast,
or where ever those hearty souls may have come ashore, our pioneer ancestors had
to be plenty tough, mentally and physically. They were determined, resilient and
carried that all important "can do" attitude. Not to mention, they were curious
and strong; brave and adventurous; never knowing what lay ahead over the next
mountain range, around the bend or across the next river. They knew that unusual
risk could bring unusual reward. Nothing ventured; nothing gained! Or,
perhaps a modern-day entrepreneur might look it as, risk versus reward; the greater
the risk, the greater the reward.
May I tell you, my ancestors were French
Huguenots? And because of religious oppression and persecution, they fled from
France into Wales. Moving on, some crossed England, and over the centuries, made
their way to London. There a few, the most adventurous, caught a boat across the
Atlantic Ocean to the New World. They entered the James River near what is now
Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. Sometime later they were at Jamestown, the
first colony of the New World; the New England, where this new nation began.
way on up the James River past our present day Richmond, they settled in what
later became Goochland County Virginia. There they took large land grants. Some
started tobacco plantations. Then, as years past, part of my family moved on west
into Franklin County, near present day Roanoke, Virginia. Of course many family
members, those without a strong desire to move, or perhaps without a strong “can
do” spirit, still live in those areas today carrying on local family traditions.
Family research reveals at least two of my fore-fathers served in the Virginia
Militia during the American Revolution. They helped overthrow the British government’s
attempt to control this new nation. The youngest of these two later helped set
up Ft. Nashboro on the Cumberland River in 1780. The old Fort Nashboro
is now Nashville, Tennessee. In 1788 he was scalped by Indians and left for dead
on what is now the present site of the Tennessee State Capitol Building. He survived
and lived another twenty years to age fifty eight. This, my American Revolution
ancestor, is buried near Gallatin, Tennessee.
These were the days long
before Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.
In those days, the area west of
Cumberland Gap and along the Cumberland River was the leading edge of the Western
Frontier. This “New World” had only gotten to middle Tennessee. It had not yet
reached the Mississippi River. Hard to believe, isn’t it? And my family played
a big part in that development. It wasn’t until the1860's that my great grandfather
came to NE Texas from NE Mississippi.
We’re talking here about the Survivalist Attitude. These tough frontiersmen
had it! They had to have it! It was a tough, tough life as they pushed westward.
Only the fittest, body and soul, survived triumphantly. Those long horseback rides,
covered wagons, wagon-trains and travels by sea, land and rivers, were excruciating.
A hard, unyielding, and grueling life, those frontiersman. My hat’s off.
© N. Ray Maxie
December 1, 2009 Column