During a ride on my horse Frescoe yesterday, I made a big mistake. I’m sharing it here since it’s a good leadership lesson and can also impact business performance. Here’s what happened: It was a gorgeous morning and I was eager to ride out on the trail. I tacked up, jumped on and off we went. He marched out eagerly, ears pricked forward, eyes bright and surveying the land, his body a bit tense. I held on to my bucking strap just in case since the day was breezy, cool and fresh and I had heard coyotes howling the night before.

About two minutes into the ride, he wanted to run, but I got him to settle. The ground was wet and not good for anything but walking. After another five minutes, he spun around and tried to bolt. Again I stopped him, but he was fired up, grabbing at the bit, dancing sideways, and thinking about a bucking fit. Hmm, the NOW was looking a bit dangerous and not what I had imagined. I decided that I better dismount before gravity prevailed.

It was then that I realized that Frescoe had not been out on a trail in over two years. In my haste to enjoy this trail ride, I had totally forgotten about his readiness. My own agenda had blinded me to the reality of the situation. Last year I was dealing with a tiny broken bone in my foot which took forever to mend and I barely rode any horse. This year I’ve ridden him a bit, but not consistently, and not out of the ring. But I had forgotten that reality because I wanted to go on a trail ride with him NOW. Geesh.

So, I led him snorting and leaping down to the ring and walked him around in hand. He took a deep breath and relaxed. I got back on and we walked around the ring. He was perfect. We did some trot work (a bit stronger than I would prefer, but obedient). And then we quit. I pet him and thanked him for not dumping me. Whew!

The horses always keep me humble. So how does this pertain to leadership and business? Well, to achieve any goal, first you need a TRUTHFUL assessment of where you are NOW. Then you must start where you ARE. Not where you hope to be or think you should be. If you have a team, they must feel safe enough to trust you and follow your lead. If you are out of touch with their needs in the NOW, they may feel unsafe and rebel. Running a business is similar; if you are out of touch with its needs, it may rebel and it could get dangerous!

Consider these questions:
• What does your goal (or business) need from YOU?
• Who do you need to BE to achieve this goal?
• What baby steps can you take to gain confidence and momentum?

Frescoe will follow me anywhere with the appropriate preparation. We’ve been together since he was born 15 years ago and have traveled many trails in the past. I look forward to more happy trails after some prep!