On occasion during speaking engagements I’ll pull out a joke I made up about the overblown self-worth those of us born and raised in Texas have about our heritage: “We study Texas history in 7th grade. What year do you learn about the Lone Star State here in Massachusetts?” It always generates a laugh and heads nod in recognition that Texans tend to place ourselves on a pedestal the rest of the nation just doesn’t get.
Heck, you could create a Top Ten List of reasons Texans have such a highfalutin opinion from birth:
10. The only state that was a country
9. Fought our own war for independence
8. Nolan Ryan (aka Big Tex)
7. The largest State Fair with the original Big Tex greeting visitors
6. High school football
5. Big Oil
4. Astronauts lived and trained here
3. John Wayne (sure, he was born in Iowa and grew up in California, but, as the saying goes, he got here as fast as he could – at least in the minds of filmgoers)
2. America’s Team (until Jerry Jones started making all the decisions)
1. Austin and Ft Worth, barbeque and chicken fried steak, Willie Nelson and George Strait, Longhorns and Aggies, TexMex and margaritas
We inoculate, educate and incorporate these legendary Texas people and pastimes into children. Each serving as a motivational icon positioned to inspire greatness.
Growing up in Texas one develops a hubris folks from other states can’t understand. Which is exactly why Texans often make headlines for all the wrong reasons: Bonnie & Clyde and Lee Harvey Oswald, Enron and the Hunt brothers, Cullen Davis and David Koresh. So it should be no surprise three of the most famous athletes disgraced by banned substances were based in Texas: Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong. Each turned out to be living a lie that fulfilled the Texan saying: “All hat, no cattle.”
What makes Texas great sometimes becomes its greatest weakness. There will be more Texans who become famous… and more who fall far from the loftiest heights. Still, I’m proud to be from here. As a fifth generation Texan whose roots date to 1873, the spirit of Davy Crockett forever will be alive in me. After failing to win reelection to Congress from Tennessee, he allegedly said, “You can all go to Hell and I’m going to Texas.” I get that.