Rope Your Dream

My guest today is Monte Alkire, author of the inspirational book, Rope Your Dream, which I enjoyed reading very much. I think this book is an excellent basic blueprint for anyone who is looking to define a goal and pursue a dream.

The back cover synopsis describes the book well: “Success is up to the individual. No one cares whether we succeed or fail; it’s up to us. Each individual defines success for himself or herself. Don’t let others influence your opinion of your success. You know what you want, you set the goal, and you assess the results….This is a story about passion and love for the game—in this case the sport is team roping, but the message and missions are universal…”

Welcome, Monte. Tell us how the idea for this book came about.

The book is a direct byproduct of learning to rope. I discovered that I had to learn the technical aspects of roping as well as how to compete. I greatly underestimated the time and effort to accomplish my goals. As I struggled I began to read and study everything I could get my hands on about accomplishing goals and competing. I was especially interested in professional athletes and very successful business people. I started clipping and keeping articles and making notes on 3X5 cards. I kept these cards in my truck and would review them preparing for competition. Often my traveling partner and I would be discussing a topic on the way to a roping or rodeo and I would say:  “Dig out the stack of cards, look for the one on … (“obstacles,” for example), does that help”?  Eventually I had over 125 cards and they were unwieldy. Someone said, “You should put this in a book.” I scoffed at the idea at the time, but eventually, that is how I got the book started.

What made you decide to take up team roping in your mid-fifties?

I wanted to rope all my life. I got my first horse when I was five, a Welch pony.  I cannot remember any time when I did not want to learn to rope. Other normal priorities kept it on the back burner… there were few cowboys in Michigan where I grew up. Then there was college, marriage, children, Army, children, job, children, college for children, job and so on. Finally, my wife and I were home alone. I met a new friend with an arena, some steers and no roping partner. I was off and running.

How did you overcome your age and lack of experience to become a top hand?

In a word: Work! I am not yet a top hand, still hope to be one some day.  My goal to this day is to become the best cowboy I possibly can with the time I have available. For my roping, I study, practice, get professional help, practice, set goals, practice, ride my horses, practice develop my horse’s skills, practice, and constantly look for new approaches to learn.

Have you always been a writer?

No, Heidi, I have not always been a writer. I took the required English courses in school and college and that was about the extent of it. My strengths were math and science so the writing was a challenge. I wrote the book over a period of five years, much of it trying to condense and simplify what I had to say. A wonderful editor cleaned it up for me and did not modify one thought.

What in your background prepared you for your career as a roper and then later as an author?

I always wanted to be a cowboy and to rope.  Horses have been special to me all my life.  My parents taught me values, respect, and created in me a strong work ethic.  I believe those are key factors enabling me to learn to rope.  My fundamentals in English were a big asset, yet left me woefully unprepared to write in “good English.” I bought some books to study English again. One of my schoolmates, third grade through college, had written a book and he too was a big asset. Of course, my wife Harriet was and still is a constant source of encouragement and help. She would always read and critique, no matter how many times I asked her.

You define the word “courage” in your book. Why does it take courage to pursue a dream?

Courage is necessary to overcome FEAR; that is the Fear Of Failure. Most of us cannot or will not even acknowledge our fear. It is subtle, often subliminal and if permitted, it will completely stifle our initiative. For many it is easier to sit on the sideline, and not risk defeat or failure. The risk and fears come in play when writing a book. Will I finish it?  How will I publish? Will anybody buy it? Will I be able to recover the publishing cost?  These are unknowns for most authors. Still, think of the all the great books you have read. We have to face the fear and manage it. John Wayne put it this way.  “Courage is being scared as h___ and saddling up anyway.” I like that; that is why it takes courage to pursue a dream.

You also talk about “passion.” Do you think that is a must-have ingredient in working toward success in any endeavor?

I don’t think it is essential, but it sure makes the journey much more enjoyable and satisfying. I successfully completed many assignments and goals that just had to be done. The goals and assignments I really had a passion for were enjoyable and very satisfying. These goals, where passion is “in play,” bounce you out of bed in the morning and put a spring in your step as you leave the house. They cause you to whistle, smile and greet people in a friendly way. These goals cause us to walk straight and tall, study late at night or early in the morning, and just plain enjoy life. These are the goals we live for.

“Focus” and “Persistence” are also two components in this journey toward success. Why do you believe that is true?

Life is full of distractions. It is usually difficult to make the time available to accomplish a specific goal. Focus is important to staying on track. I believe if you’re not improving, you are regressing with respect to others in your area of endeavor. Many around us are going all out to improve. Focus can keep us in the forefront of our activity. That is where I want to be.

Persistence is crucial, because sooner or later as we go along, we will fail. This may be a large or small element of our goal, but it will happen. It takes persistence to overcome these setbacks and keep trying. Think of a baseball player and how often he strikes out, yet goes on to succeed. We need similar persistence. We must mentally acknowledge that things will most likely go wrong in our journey, and be prepared to react in whatever way is necessary. In team roping, typically 40% of the teams are eliminated in the first round. Most events are 3 or 4 rounds. We must learn to come back just as hard or harder at the next event. It is the same with trying to master a new technique. It can take a year. Developing a good roping horse takes several years. Persistence will test the passion, but offers great rewards.

What does success mean to you?

Success at this time is continuing to improve. My goal is to offset, or balance for a while, the aging process. My three major approaches are to improve my roping skills, keep physically fit and strong, and improve my horses. The horse is the enabler in roping events. The better he is; the better I can be. I truly love developing horses for all ranch work, so here comes my passion into the equation of success again. Today was a good example, I rode for four hours on two horses with three friends. The common denominator: we all love our horses and want to improve our roping. I roped well and my horses worked well. Today was a very successful day for me.

Are you working on other writing projects?

I have no new writing projects at this time. I have collected several more important additions to sections of “Rope Your Dream” which I use for my own reference, but have no plans to publish at this time.

Do you still participate in team roping?

Yes I still rope several times a week. Had an injury this summer, broke and cut a finger roping at a ranch rodeo. Back to practicing on a regular basis now and first roping event this coming Labor Day Weekend.

Congratulations on pursuing your dream in roping and on publishing your book! Thanks for joining me.

Monte’s book is available through his website,  from BookSurge and

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