Don't Limit Your Options to What's Obvious

Ruben Gonzalez
September 15, 2021

Ruben Gonzalez

Incredible Olympic Story - Business Author - Award Winning Speaker
National Hispanic Heritage Month Hispanic Olympics Sports Athletes & Sports Community

Most people go through life making decisions based on just a fraction of their available options. They hold themselves back because they allow circumstances or other people’s opinions limit their perceived choices.

By the way, I was born in Argentina. Since this is Hispanic Heritage Month, I looked up Hispanic and Latino because I wasn’t sure what the difference was. It turns out I’m both. If you read through the end of this article, you’ll know the difference as well. Hey, it could help you win a bet someday.

Back to the story…

When I was a kid, my mom told me stories about how I came from a family of dreamers - people who were willing to give up something good for the hope of something better. People who were willing to get creative and to pay the price to live their dreams.

My mom’s grandparents were Italian. At the turn of the century, when they realized there wasn’t much opportunity in Italy, they left everything behind and moved to Argentina where they became dairy farmers.

My grandmother grew up in a small town in Argentina where everyone thought they had only two career options: working at the dairy bottling factory or working at the farm raising milk cows. Grandma’s dream was to live in a big city. Rather than stay in her native town, Grandma took a chance, moved to a big city, married a restaurateur, and lived her dream.

My dad was a chemical engineer in a small Argentine oil town. At the turn of the century his grandparents left everything behind in Spain and in France and moved to Argentina. Back then, the US and Argentina were the richest  counties in the world.          

In 1968, when economic conditions got really bad in Argentina, rather than stay there, dad took a chance and moved with my mom, my brother, and I to the U.S. Leaving his friends and family in search for more opportunity was a risky and scary move, especially since he didn’t speak much English back then, but in the long run it really paid off.

I lived in hot and humid Houston for over 30 years. I never liked the heat. I felt like all I ever did was drive from one AC to another. In 2010 we moved to Colorado where we get to enjoy four distinct seasons. Today I get to spend much more time outdoors than I ever spent in Houston.

The Jamaican bobsledders did the same thing. When they didn't qualify for the Summer Olympics in track and field, they got creative. Deciding to take up the bobsled was sheer genius. They didn’t just take the road less traveled. They paved a new road where there had been no road before. Everyone who makes fun of them has no clue about what it really takes to succeed in life.

I competed in the men’s luge in four Winter Olympics. I’m amazed when people ask me how someone from hot and humid Houston can compete in the luge. It’s really pretty simple. I came to the realization that what city I live in has nothing to do with what sport I can compete in. When the first cold front hit Houston, I would fly out to the luge tracks. The luge tracks never came to me.

“Get creative, take a chance, do something different.”

Start looking outside your immediate surroundings for ways to realize your dream. Don’t limit your options to what’s obvious. Get a little creative, take a chance, and do something different. Chase your dream. Your dream will not land on your lap. You have to go out and get it. When you start getting bold and unconventional, your life will become an adventure and you’ll be a lot more successful.

People will start calling you lucky.

So what’s the difference between a Hispanic and a Latino? 

I was born in Argentina and I had to look it up. Most South Americans probably aren’t sure because we use the terms interchangeably. I told you this information could help you win a bet…

Hispanic means Spanish speaking. That’s everyone from Mexico to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, South America and Spain. But not Brazilians, because they speak Portuguese.

Latinos means from Latin America. That’s everyone from Mexico to Central America, the Caribbean and South America including Brazil because Portuguese came from Latin. But not Spain, because they are not in America.

By the way, the Latin Languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. But I digress…

Neither Hispanic nor Latino is a race. It’s a culture. They can be white, black, Indigenous, etc. It’s a little bit like saying someone’s European. They could be any race. Or saying someone is Texan. They could be any race.

When we speak about our individual friends or about ourselves we normally categorize by country. Ruben el Argentino, Pedro el Cubano, Juan el Puertorriqueño, Bobby el Chileno, Mike el Español, Carlos el Peruano, Maria la Venezolana, etc.

We hardly ever use the terms Hispanic and Latin unless we’re referring to a group of people from different Latin countries. For example, if there was a pickup soccer game between a bunch of Americans and a bunch of South Americans, someone might say, “Los Latinos contra Los Norteamericanos.” The Latins against the Americans. Not a fair match. :) But the Americans would beat the Latins in Football.

Most South Americans don’t like it that people from the US call themselves Americans. They say, "We’re Americans, too." We’re South Americans and they are North Americans. That’s why they usually call people from the US, Norteamericanos.

So there you have it, a long explanation about something pretty simple.

Make it an Olympic day!

Ruben Gonzalez

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