The journey

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    It starts with a couple of two-by-fours, one held vertically in your left hand, and the other either under your arm, over your shoulder, or perhaps held between your knees with the other end on fence line, a sawhorse or most often, the bed of a pick-up truck.

    I’ve built innumerable fences, tables, and projects of all kinds starting this way.


    It’s amazing that the strongest things we build all start from a place of weakness, only to grow step by step into something viable.

    What do power company linemen, IT professionals, and U.S. Navy warships have in common? They all utilize that same “weak to strong” concept.

    For the Navy, mid-ocean refueling with thousands of gallons of diesel fuel transferred from a tanker to a warship has been completed since World War I.

    The process begins with the two ships on a parallel course at the same speed. From the tanker, a sailor fires a lightweight line that lands on the ship awaiting fuel. Another sailor grabs that line. He pulls in the lightweight line that is attached to a slightly heavier line. The process continues until it’s time to wrap the incoming line around a winch. The winch pulls in a steel cable, and finally, the heavy fuel coupling with a fuel hose attached to it and the refueling begins.


    Linemen do something similar. They’ll tie fishing line to a large puff ball and put the ball in conduit. On the other end of the conduit, they use a shop vacuum to pull the ball to them. They gradually pull heavier line until a strong nylon cable, attached to the electrical wires they’re installing is tied to it. They pull the line with a winch or sometimes tie it to the hitch on their service truck and the line is pulled into place.

    IT guys do the same thing on a much lighter scale than linemen, but they often leave braided fishing line in the raceways as they’re installed. That way it’s just tie one end to the Cat 6e cable and pull away.

    Weakness to strength, you find it everywhere. The smallest, wobbly-legged foal, can eventually grow to become a powerful horse. The same is true of skinny, gangly freshmen who as seniors have grown over a foot in height and doubled in weight.


    It’s not just a physical process. Some of the most admired people, men, and women who have accomplished greatness started from very little.

    There are a couple of businessmen that many of us know who live up to this ideal of weak to strong, or perhaps a better description, fledgling to established.

    I’ll call them Tim and Shawn, if you know their story, you’ll recognize them. If you don’t, just enjoy the integrity, dedication, and hard work these two friends of mine have accomplished in their professional lives.


    The oilfield is a place of boom or bust, sometimes with little notice. It can make or break a business with just a phone call.

    Both of these men rode the Wyoming wave, the boom and bust cycle, and came out on top, but not after a few setbacks.

    Tim had an oilfield service company. It’s a business many young, energetic, hard-working men enter. It grew until the oil market plummeted in the 1980s. He sold almost everything he owned to pay his crew their final check, then worked his way back to the top.

    He made excellent decisions along the way, selling businesses when the time was right, and buying others when the market was ready.

    People who know him claim that “everything he touches turns to gold,” but that’s not the real story. It’s hard work, diligence, honor, and the knowledge that a handshake with Tim is more binding than a three-foot stack of legal documents.

    Shawn’s story is similar. The oilfield was where he made his living. He progressed through the ranks as a top hand, sought out by many because he always delivered, and kept his word no matter the personal cost.

    When his business asked him to move, he had a young family and didn’t want to uproot them and take them away from the great community and school they were in.

    So, he started a business. It was sketchy in the beginning, but it steadily grew. He hired more people, purchased more equipment, and moved to markets over the mountains and to the eastern plains of the state. But, he stayed home, his children grew up, became successful in their own right and the entire family is now an integral part of our community.

    To me, both of these men epitomize the American dream, the benefits of hard work, being a little hardnosed, and seeing their way through hard times.

    Neither of them is hesitant to support youth activities either, donating time, money, and attention to youngsters at rodeos, fairs, and athletic events.

    It’s a trait we should all strive for. The pinnacle of success is reached by climbing.

    I have little use for those who were born on third base and claim they hit a home run.

    Who has much use for the “trust fund” babies? There’s nothing wrong with being born wealthy, but when your daddy’s money gets you out of trouble you create, gives you unfair advantages over others, and trumps the efforts of people who are making a difference, that wealth is fetid.

    It’s Little League on steroids. Little League baseball is great, it’s an American institution, but it’s too often called “coach pitch.” Not because the coach is pitching as they do in the beginning levels, but because only the coach’s kid gets to pitch or play shortstop.

    That’s the unfettered, “daddy’s money” in action on the diamond. We don’t like it there, and we shouldn’t like it in politics, business, or higher education.

    I’ll stick to those who make a difference through their intellect and hard work over the born with the silver spoon crowd every time.

    Weakness to strength, the proverbial two-by-four balanced on your knee that becomes a stem wall, then a foundation, followed by floor joists, exterior walls, trusses, a roof, and ultimately a home.

    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” wrote Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching, a Taoist book written 2500 years ago.

    The ancient philosopher was correct. That first step is often the most difficult, everything beyond it comes in stride.


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