Life Lessons from Legendary Bull Rider Tuff Hedeman
Four-time World Champion bull rider and Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer Tuff Hedeman swung by our little corner of the world recently. In conjunction with Big Rock, Illinois’ 125th Plowing Match, Hedeman was in town to host a stop along the Tuff Hedeman Midwest Breakout Series bull riding tour.
Hedeman was very complimentary of Big Rock, observing, “You can tell Big Rock takes a lot of pride in their community and their town. It’s not a very big town, but my hometown in Texas is really small, so I can relate. I love small towns and I’m glad we could come up here.”
Thank you to the Big Rock Plowing Match Association for sponsoring our attendance!
A Conversation with Tuff Hedeman
As 20-some, 20-something bull riders prepared to defy death on the backs of bucking bulls, Hedeman spared a few minutes to chat with us. When we parted ways, us to take our seats, him to start the show, we realized we had just been schooled in life by one of the most famous cowboys in the world!
In the course of a 10-minute chat, Hedeman imparted this wisdom:
On inclusion amongst professional bull riders—and in life
Bull riders come from everywhere. We never really cared where you came from or what color you were. You know, we’re all just bull riders. It should all be based on who you are, what you are, your qualities, and your capabilities; not by what color you are, where you were born, or where your ancestors were.
Historic Note: during the golden era of American cowboys in the Old West, up to 3 in 10 cowboys were Black, Mexican, Native American or Mestizo. And one in ten was actually a cowgirl! Read more cowboy history and tradition here.
On the importance of work-life balance
I guess what I’m most proud of, probably more than anything, is my family and my boys. As much as I love this and I’m proud of the titles and accomplishments, that’s secondary to my kids.
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On rolling with the punches —or the Bodacious head butts, as it were
You know, life never turns out the way you think. From the time I was 5 to the time I was 50, I would think, “5, 10, 15 years, I’ll be doing this, that, or the other.” Never even comes close. But the cool thing is, I’ve had a great life. And hopefully I will continue to.
On chasing your dreams
Tuff Hedeman fun fact: Hedeman grew up around horse racing. He told us that when he was young, he wasn’t very big, so back then, he thought he might become a jockey.
My philosophy is if you really want to do something, then go for it. If you try hard all day, every day, and don’t let the noise affect you, then you can do anything. Try hard every day. You never know. Good things happen.
On staying positive in a world of haters
Never read your own press!
Hearing advice from someone whose life experience is so storied and so very different from our own was quite a memorable event, as was the opportunity to witness a new generation of dream chasers stepping into an arena. It was a night we will undoubtedly remember!
As for Hedeman’s last piece of advice —“never read your own press!”— I certainly hope he will digress from that wisdom just long enough to enjoy this piece.
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Have you picked up any life lessons from an unexpected source?
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