Archive Page 3

17
Jun
13

you’d better be running

You’ve probably all heard this one before, I attribute it to the late coaching great John Wooden. Coach Wooden led UCLA Men’s basketball teams to 10 NCAA National Championships in 12 years. “The Wizard of Westwood” (a name he detested by the way) was also named NCAA Coach of the Year seven times, but it should not be forgotten that he was a three time All-American as a player. He lived it, he breathed it and then he taught it – the man could clearly lead.

In one of his books and in making a point, he made the parallel to success to that of what occurs daily on the African plains.   “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed…every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

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One of my favorite metaphors for getting up and getting it done, day in and day out. If you think about it, it really doesn’t matter if you’re a lion or a gazelle. Well, aside from the fact that the ultimate demise comes a lot quicker and more gruesomely for one than the other – what really matters is that you succeed at your chosen endeavor, everyday. You have a plan and you execute it.  Hey there are folks out there that are better at what you do, such is life.  And yet you are better than others at your game.  In the end, we still have to prove that we can set goals and attain them if we are going to be successful.

Back over to the Texas landscape now.  The kids are out of school and summer camps are underway.  The 100 degree weather is here and soon these will turn into the dog days of summer.  So while you’re enjoying your summer, don’t forget about our friends gazelle and lion.  While fast is fine, accuracy is everything.

09
Jun
13

these are the boys of point du hoc

Dr. Martin Luther King once said that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, then he really isn’t fit to live.  Sixty nine years ago this past week, the brave men of the Second Ranger Battalion scaled the 100-foot cliffs after storming the beach at Point Du Hoc in Normandy.  Their mission was to destroy German gun batteries that were pinning down brave allied men trying to take the beaches on that historic morning of the invasion in 1944.

Before becoming the Texas Land Commissioner, the President of Texas A&M or even the Mayor of Brady, TX, the Eden born James Earl Rudder was Lt. Col. Earl Rudder, commander of the Second Ranger Battalion.

Rudder's 2nd Rangers outside of Cherbourg

Rudder’s 2nd Rangers outside of Cherbourg

Rudder’s Rangers suffered higher than a 50 percent casualty rate in accomplishing their mission on D-Day.  General Omar Bradley, commanding general of the First U.S. Army was quoted after the invasion as saying – “No soldier in my command has ever been wished a more difficult task than Rudder.”  Lt. Col. Rudder was injured twice that day, but went on to fight in more decisive battles in the coming months, including the Battle of The Bulge.  He earned numerous medals, honors and accolades, but I would venture to bet that if he were alive today, he would tell you he was just doing his job, he was just protecting his men.  You see James Earl Rudder had discovered something he was willing to die for.  Just like the many who took up arms on D-Day and the many more days that would follow.

The men who died on the beach that day paved the way for the replacements that would come, replacements such as Imperial, TX native and Private First Class, Daniel Antonio Esparza of the 103rd Cactus Division, 410 Infantry Regiment.  PFC Daniel Esparza almost missed his ship back into combat after being granted leave to the states, he hitch-hiked his way home in time to meet his first born son, only to turn back the next day to get back into the fight.

Liberators in Austria, VE Day 1945, Photo Courtesy of Daniel Esparza

Liberators in Austria, VE Day 1945 Photo Courtesy of Daniel Antonio Esparza

And fight he did – he made it all right.  Fought his way through Schillersdorf, France where he endured heavy fighting in the Vosges Mountains.  There he and his unit distinguished themselves at the Siegfried Line where it took two months to drive out the vaunted German 6th SS Mountain Division.  They fought across the Danube and into Germany, fought through Germany and into Austria – liberating the city of Innsbruck.   PFC Esparza remained in Austria when the war in Europe came to an end.  There he found no rest – instead his unit began training to head to the Pacific Theatre when they got word that Japan had surrendered.  WWII was now – finally over.

PFC Esparza celebrated 71 years of marriage in April and, God-willing,  will celebrate his 90th birthday this November.  PFC Esparza, like all of the men of the 103rd, had also discovered something he was willing to die for.

One of my most favorite speeches was delivered in France on June 6, 1984.  President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to the men of D-Day on the 40th anniversary of the invasion, to the champions who helped free a continent.  He reminded us that they were liberators, not conquerors.  Men who put aside the instinct for self-preservation to risk their lives to take those cliffs.  But why?  Well the answer is simple.  It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.

It is fitting this week that we not forget the boys of Point Du Hoc, and of the many who hit the beaches on D-Day and the days that followed.  Some like Rudder, came home and ran municipalities and universities.  And some like Esparza came home to raise kids and run trucks.  Even more fitting that while we remember those who gave a little piece of themselves while in France – we not forget that some gave all.

-J Daniel Esparza

31
May
13

and so ends the session

The  83rd regular session is over and it couldn’t have happened soon enough.  While much came down to the very end as it normally does, this legislative session was not without plenty of tense moments, discouraging words, summited peaks and wallowed valleys.  At one point very late in the discussion on a major initiative, when I was personally ready to take a drastic turn that would have been received with equally drastic political consequences – a voice from a colleague across the table said something that caused me to revaluate.  “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas 1836

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas 1836

This is certainly not a perfect process – it never will be.  One can get lost in trying to attain perfection. It doesn’t mean we don’t continue to strive for it, but it’s the art of negotiation and prioritization as well as knowing where your limits are or where your Alamo is.  We go into every session prepared for a last stand, but the industry is better served when we work through the process.  We avoid being subject to extremes or trying to over-negotiate them, we keep a seat at the table and succeed despite the many perils, obstacles and dead-end roads we meet.   All successful leaders find a way to attain victory and at times even snatch it right from the jaws of defeat.
28
May
13

memorial day weekend

Three Days – while there are so many more that make up a legislative session, it usually comes down to the last three days to find out if you’re a winner or a loser.  In fact, the running joke at the capitol when groups of us get summoned together at once is to see who is willing to give odds on whether we  are the “winners” or the “losers.”  Some days it’s like flipping a coin.

Texas Quarter

Texas Quarter

There are so many moving parts this late in the game that you can never be certain until the words “sine die” are uttered – signaling the end of the session. And then again, the governor has a period of time following the end of session to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature. It’s a process.

We break from that process this weekend to reflect upon the lives of the men and women who gave so much so that we may sit in our state houses and argue about bad and good legislation – it isn’t lost on me that the very right came at the highest of prices.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  No truer words, like them or not, could have been uttered.  And while the session grinds through the weekend and ultimately to a halt on Monday, let us not forget those who truly deserve our thanks.  Those especially – who are no longer with us.

God bless.




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