Don’t Mess With Texas!

Texas is my dog… my other dog.

Lucy was such an inspiration to everyone I thought I would introduce you to the teachings of my other dog, Tex (for short), he is our Jack Russell Terrorist (no, not a misspelling).

I went to buy a cowboy hat before going into the rodeo in the stockyards of Fort Worth, Texas, (when in Rome!). Inside their makeshift booth they were also selling Jack Russell puppies. My wife and I had been looking for a sibling companion for Lucy. We knew nothing about Jack Russell Terriers, but the little spitfire captured our hearts and we fell in love on the spot.

Tex has a Napoleon complex. He is only 14 pounds but portrays himself as if he were a 200-pound pit bull. I’ve had to rescue him from the jaws of a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler. Fights HE picked. Tex has bitten the UPS guy (two of them), a Jehovah’s Witness, the meter reader, my mother in-law and countless friends and neighbors. I know, don’t get all “Cesar Millan” on me. It’s my fault… I haven’t been the “pack leader” good enough. I get it.

At the same time, behind the rough, aggressive front, Tex is the softest most loving dog you will ever meet. If you hold him or pet him he will purr in delight. He will come up and sit so he is always touching you. He never leaves his mother’s sight and is always on call—for guard duty or love duty.

Here is the lesson… Have you ever met a jerk? You know that guy or gal who seems to go out of their way to be a brute? Or someone who comes off harsh or callous?

This is what Tex teaches me… 99.9% of the time (gotta leave that 0.1% for the Charles Mansons of the world), “meanies” are big softies behind their tough exteriors. Most of the time, their exteriors are just a front—a front that is a pendulum swing in equal extreme to the reality of what’s going on inside. It is their inferiority complex; their fear and feeling of weakness that make them portray the opposite to the world. The more extreme the jerk, usually the more fearful and inferior they really feel on the inside.

With this knowledge you can have empathy in response rather than angst. You will notice the truly confident person is always the most even keeled. They neither display boisterous confidence nor weakness. I’ve always known it as a “quiet confidence”. They have nothing to prove, nor a never-ending need to be heard.

Someone taught me long ago that people are always saying one of two things through their words and actions; either:
1) “I love you” or
2) “I need love”

Much of the jerk behavior you witness and experience are acts to gain attention, a solicitation for validation; displays of insecurity and fear of insignificance.

Most people aren’t bad, they are only hurting. When you know they are operating out of pain and fear, their growl has a lot less bite.

The next time you experience someone being a jerk, look past the exterior and see the little, frightened, soft and ultimately loving puppy inside. All they need is a pat on the head and a “good boy!” or “good girl!” recognition from you. Then they will likely be comfortable to show you their soft underbelly.


Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.

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