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If It Is To Be, It's Up To Me:

The Little-Known Backstory of the
United States Concealed Carry Association

If It Is To Be,
It's Up To Me:

The Little-Known Backstory of the United States Concealed Carry Association

Chapter 2:

I've Never Been Much of a Leader


Roy: So you were a shy kid who grew up to be a shy engineer, and you had a very stern dad who introduced you to firearms.

Tim: Dad had guns in the house to protect the family. He wasn’t a hunter. He was just a stern-yet-loving German Dad. But I knew he loved me because he would always go to my football games and whatnot. I knew he watched all my games, and I knew that he loved me.

Roy: That night in the woods, your dad got the revolver because there were noises in the woods?

Tim: Yeah.

Roy: And you’re sitting around the campfire. And he pulled his Smith & Wesson out of the tent to protect you from whatever wild animals were out there.

Tim: Yep.

Roy: OK. So when you came home from the woods, what happened next?

Tim: So then I went back to grade school, where I wasn’t very popular. I wasn’t completely a loner, but I certainly wasn’t in a popular group. In sixth, seventh and eighth grade, I literally had no friends because I wasn’t very good at making friends. It was just my personality, the way that God made me. Dad tried to help me. His solution was the same solution that I give people nowadays, which is to read books. He said, “Tim, you need to read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And you need to listen to these Zig Ziglar tapes about positive thinking.”

So I would go on my paper route and listen to these tapes and then come home and read these books, and I started to become a little bit more of a pleasant person, but still … I’m an introvert. I’m an introverted person. But when I got to high school, thanks to the help my dad gave me, I started to make a few friends, and I had a great high school experience. I loved science, loved math, and was a fairly happy introverted person with a handful of friends.

Roy: You said your dad came to all your football games?

Tim: He sure did. My dad played high school football, and he really understood the game. I’d come home from a game and he’d describe, in detail, almost every important play of the game. But the way he described the plays … well, I could tell that he wasn’t really watching the game as much as he was watching me. He knew every single block and tackle that I made. Dad and I really connected on that.

Roy: Sounds like your dad really helped you in football.

Tim: Well, something happened early on … I was a sophomore in high school, and I wasn’t getting much playing time on the junior varsity team.

Roy: Hmmm … you weren’t very good, huh?

Tim: It wasn’t so much that but rather my mindset was wrong. And this was where my dad really helped me.

I remember complaining to Dad one Saturday about how I wasn’t getting much playing time. So Dad said, “Son, the next time you line up on the kickoff team, I want you to say to yourself, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” I want you to pretend that there’s nobody else on your team. You’re the only player. And if you don’t make that tackle, the other team is definitely going to score a touchdown.”

I said, “If it is to be, it’s up to me”?

Dad nodded and said, “It’s up to you, Tim.”

So the next time I lined up with the junior varsity kickoff team, I visualized myself making the tackle. I pretended that none of my teammates were on the field. I whispered to myself, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

When the ball was kicked, I sprinted down that field like a demon and tackled that guy on maybe the 12-yard line and Coach saw it and said, “Holy, who the heck was that?”

Needless to say, I got more and more playing time. And my dad and I grew closer and closer together through this shared football experience.

Roy: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” That’s what he told you?

Tim: Yep. That was the first time those words had a big impact in my life. Dad really helped me change my mindset.

You know, it’s funny, as a father of three adult children, I often wonder if any of the words that I say to them have an impact. I sure hope so.

Roy: You said it was the FIRST time those words had an impact. Were there other times?

Tim: Well, there was another thing that happened in high school, which to this day I still can’t believe that son-of-a-bitch said this, but…

Roy: Who?

Tim: Like I said before, “loved science, loved math, really good at it.” So my chemistry professor got angry at me in my senior year because I decided not to take advanced chemistry. I just didn’t want to. It wasn’t required, and quite frankly, the guy was kind of a jackass. It’s my senior year. I’m going to have fun. I joined a band, and I think that’s what put me on his shit list. And on the day of high school graduation, we had a practice ceremony where everyone practices walking across the stage to receive their scholarships. And I had gotten a scholarship to receive in-state tuition at Michigan Tech University, which is a great engineering school.

So as I walked up on stage, this chemistry teacher, because he was the guy handing out the scholarship certificates, shakes my hand, looks me in the eye and says, “You’re never going to make it at Michigan Tech.”

Roy: Wow.

Tim: Yeah, can you believe that? What kind of high school teacher tells a student that they’re not going to make it?

Roy: So, how did this impact you? Did you say anything to him?

Tim: I don’t think I said a word.

And, as it turns out, I DID struggle at Michigan Tech. I had to take a remedial math class freshman year. This is for engineering majors who don’t do well on the pre-calculus screening exam. I pretty much struggled with ALL of my classes at Tech. Nothing really came easy for me. Heck, it took me five years to get a four-year degree.

I can remember many, many solitary, late nights in the campus library. I remember questioning myself. Did I really have what it takes to become a mechanical engineer?

And then I’d remember what my chemistry teacher told me … that I wasn’t going to make it. And I’d also remember what my dad taught me: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

And remembering those things put a burning in my gut. I’d show my chemistry teacher that he was wrong.

Roy: Tell me more about your Michigan Tech experience.

Tim: I went to Michigan Tech and became a mechanical engineer. I think I was drawn to the engineering field because I was told by my high school teachers that “well, when you’re an engineer, you get to sit down at a computer and solve problems, and you really don’t have to talk to people.”

I thought that sounded great! Don’t forget I am a very introverted person, and I loved to solve problems.

As it turns out, this advice was not so good. Even engineers have to talk to people!

I studied hard at Michigan Tech. Nothing ever came easy for me. But I told myself every day, “If it is to be, it’s up to me,” so I was the guy who spent a lot of extra hours in the library just to get through my classes, but I graduated with a decent grade-point average.

I got married while still at Michigan Tech. She was studying Civil Engineering and she had graduated a few semesters before I did.

When I finally graduated, we got jobs and moved out to Boston.

And this is where my “transformation” began.

Roy: Wait, what transformation are you talking about?

Tim: Well, I finally started to come out of my “shy engineer” shell.

Roy: Hmmm…

 

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