Taking risks

How many times have we made a decision to do something only to either not do it at all or only do it half way because we were scared of the outcome?

Recently a friend of mine posted a message on facebook about how she is trying to justify her job decision.  You see she choose to take a job with a start up where she’s not getting paid. She’s had to work other jobs to pay her bills….

BUT she loves what she’s doing.  She get’s up everyday with a strong sense of purpose and excitement.  She get’s up EXCITED to do her job!  Now I understand that not all of us can make this type of decision as far as our jobs are concerned.  We may have people relying on us and simply taking a job where we don’t get paid isn’t always an option.

However, how often do we simply NEVER make a change because we just are either too afraid or not willing to put in the work to make the change.

You see my friend has had to go back to working in a restaurant, a job she thought she gave up for something in her field.  However, she made a choice, one that was a bit uncomfortable to get to where she wanted to be!

I have been struggling with this lately.  Trying to find the ability to take the risk I want to do what brings me joy!  I want to be like my friend, and I will!

As leaders, it is our job to push our team to take those risks!  Even if it means they leave us!  We want to push them to be better and to do what brings them the most joy!!

Embrace the Quirky

It is not a secret among horse owners that the painted ones are well quirky.  You see they are bred for color while others are bred for speed and to work.  The paints or Pinto’s are bred to be pretty and they are! They are also a bit odd!

As leaders we all have that one person on our team who is a little different and we often get frustrated with them because they don’t fit into our mold.  I had someone on my team once who would not work past 5.  He felt that this was not part of his job, I work in an industry where this is kind of expected.  I had another person who really only excelled in jobs that were very complex.  At first I struggled to led these 2, because well they were quirky!

I learned that I had to motivate them, I had to work with their own specific ideas and once I was able to do that I had 2 great employees! Just like with my horse (who is also a paint) I have to learn what makes him tick.  You see if Keno is trying to bite me when I first take him into the arena I should not ride him that day.  He’s going to be a brat (I wouldn’t ever call a person that but my horse has that down to a science)!  What I do know is that on these days we do alot of ground work and I read his body language.  He might just be telling me that I need to leave him alone to do his own thing.

As leaders we can’t always leave our employees alone, however we can learn that in some situations letting them do their own thing can be the best for everyone!  It’s alot like learning what battles you are willing to take on.  Some days you are going to have to ask the person to stay late or work on something that simply isn’t that fun! However if you spend every day challenging this person, even when it isn’t needed you are going to frustrate both of you and you are going to end up with an employee who resents you!

Learning what works and what doesn’t is going to make you both successful.

This week, figure out what quirks each of your employees have (We all have them) and figure out who you can take those quirks and make them successful WITH them!  Just like I’ll be listening to Keno and if he’s nippy then we’ll be working on our love for corners (Read hate) and maybe just letting him run around with his buddy!

Happy Quirky Leading everyone!



This guy tossed me about 3 weeks ago.  Like on the ground after he decided that something somewhere was scary.  He also tossed his owner 3 days later. (I shareboard him from a college student).

I have been working to get back on and ride again.  I didn’t ride for about a week after mainly because I was so sore.  I did get back on as soon as I could and I have been trotting him a little again, however it’s scary as hell!

You see horses can sense your energy.  If you are tense they are tense, if you are relaxed they are relaxed. I have to verbally remind myself to relax when I am with him.

As leaders I think our team also feeds off of our energy. If we are upset or tense our team is going to be upset and tense as well.  We might not even notice the changes in them or ourselves. So how we do adjust? How do we calm ourselves down to keep our team moving forward?

It starts with knowing yourself and acknowledging your feelings.  Simply saying that you are having an off day helps!  Next find the good!!  Yea your boss might be on a tirade, your clients having fits over the fact that it is simply 9am and your best employee might have decided that this is the day they have a mental breakdown; BUT (stay with me here) you have a team, you have a job and YOU HAVE A PURPOSE!

I follow a barn in Wisconsin called Tuskey Dressage this is their verse for the month “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Submitting isn’t about being submissive to God it’s about trusting Him that He has a plan!  You see God, no matter what God you believe in has your best interest at heart and you have been given a great gift!

There are days where that gift may seem like it’s out to get you (IE Being tossed from your horse) but that is never the case.  No matter what is going on, there is good in it!

On days when you are struggling with the client who thinks that a 2 day process should take 10 minutes, be thankful that you have a job, the client and the team. Let your team know that it’s ok to be frustrated however you must find the positive in it as well!

Happy hunting and remember falling off hurts getting back on hurts more! (at least it does if you seriously bruised your back!!)

Learned Helplessness

Reading social media today I came across an article on Learned Helplessness.  You need to google it to get a full understanding however it really struck me how this might happen to our teams.

The article I read was about horses and how they often begin to ignore pain and other stressors simply because they can’t get away.

As leaders we often want our teams to work a certain way.  We want to push them into a behavior that makes sense to us, the leader!  We either can’t or don’t want to deal with behavior that seems outside of our norm.

We punish, belittle, even use sarcasm to get behavior we want.  By doing this we often make our team become numb to their own pain.  Now there are behaviors that do not go well when working with a team, however by using punishment we often get to our results faster and with little work on our part!

Take the horse for example, Duke doesn’t like pressure.  (Pressure for horses means bad things and they react to that pressure). Horses also don’t like things they can’t process.  Noises, shifts in their vision all cause them to spook.  It is our job to get the horse to trust us to keep them safe.  We do this by exposing them to these pressures and noises and by showing them that we are keeping them safe.  We want them to trust us!  However, some people use other methods to train their horses.  They punish them, they leave them tied tightly to force the spook out of them. Horses who are trained this way learn they can’t escape and eventually become really good horses on the outside but they are no longer horses on the inside!

As leaders are we doing this to our teams? Are we tying them down to simply get behavior we want instead of teaching them to trust us.  Teaching our team to trust us means we have to make difficult decisions, we have to stand up to our leadership for our teams.  We then often have to go back to our teams and tell them we failed.  We have to show that we aren’t perfect and that is a hard thing to do!

Think about this as you lead your teams, what if you were honest with them!  What if you told them the truth that you spoke up at the last meeting but you were turned down. Or that you feel that the decision is a good one for the organization and that you support it even if it means something bad for the team?

When someone on your team works in a way that is different or in a way that maybe needs improvement, try understanding why they work that way and getting them to trust you that your way might be better?

Being a good leader isn’t about forcing people into a mold it’s about getting them to trust you and know that you have their best interest at heart!!

Do what you love!!

Leaders, how many days do you go home and think I just can’t do this again?  I can’t make myself go through another day!  Then you remember the mortgage and the car payments, and the kids and all the other bills that need to be paid and you do it again.

Not all of us love our jobs, and I would guess some of us down right dislike it alot!!  As leaders we put ourselves out there, we support our teams we strive to be better and we sometimes forget that we need to find something that feeds our soul!

This doesn’t have to be your job, in fact it’s OK to not be but there has to be something that you do that you love!  For my amazing husband it’s greeting new people at our church.  He has a sixth sense for new people like seriously can smell them from inside the building!  He takes great pride in welcoming them and then having me meet them later!  This and coaching are 2 things that he loves more than most anything else!

For me, welcoming people at church is OK, it’s not something I love, I’ll do it but it doesn’t make me smile.  Today I did the thing that makes me smile. I rode a horse!  For an hour all I could think about was sitting in the saddle and attempting to steer. (I am still learning so doing more than 1 thing at a time is still really tough!) My smile was huge! I felt joy like I haven’t felt in a very long time!

You see I was not control, I didn’t have to teach the other riders in the room. I had to focus on my horse and the horses around me but all I was responsible for was my horse and myself! I was doing the thing that feeds my soul!

This weekend take time to figure out what feeds your soul! As leaders we are no good to anyone if we aren’t taking care of ourselves!  So go feed your soul!!

Trust the process

I am the last person who can really handle that phrase! Trust the process?  Screw that I am trusting myself!  However in my many years on this planet I have learned to do exactly that, trust the process!  For me as a Christ follower this often means trusting in God and that HE has the plan.

As leaders, we often want to skip steps to get to the end, we forget that trusting the process is probably what got us there in the first place! I had my first ‘official’ riding lesson with Duke yesterday.  He did great, me, not so much!  Learning to ride is alot like learning to read braille after you lost your sight or picking up a new language.  The process is slow and methodical and sometimes boring.

Yesterday I walked, then I stopped, literally every 5 steps she had me walk and then stop! Why well because if I can’t stop this amazing 700lb animal (he’s little for a horse) then I am in big trouble! Oh and he’s afraid of everything!  Our trainer says he’s reactive!  Yea to the planet! (but that’s another story)

So after walking and then stopping, and walking and then stopping and then walking and then stopping ( you get the idea) she had me trot.  This is like a slow job on a horse, and then what did I have to do, well stop.  And guess what he did stop!  Why because we learned to walk first and then stop!

You see as leaders we want to skip steps to get to the end, but we can’t we have to trust the process.  We have to learn to walk and then stop!  We can’t rush things because when we do we get hurt or our careers get stalled or our team fails!  When I rush the process in riding, I get hurt (very very very hurt lol)

If you are struggling find someone you trust to talk it through with!  Sometimes having a fresh perspective can help, however you have to find someone who will tell you the truth not what you want to hear.  In this case your best friend or spouse is probably NOT the best option.  They are going to tell you what you want to hear, and that’s OK! But you need someone who is going to be honest and tell you, you need more time before you ride the bigger 1200lb horse!

Today your challenge is to trust the process.  Trust that things are going in the right direction and if you aren’t sure find someone to talk it over with!  There might be things you can be doing or (here’s a novel thought) you might have to be patient! (Of which I am not!) Good luck! And remember walk, then stop, walk then stop, walk then stop!

Never Stop learning!

I have recently started taking horse riding/ground work lessons.  Working with a horse is VERY humbling experience because they are smart, way smart and BIG! Like 1500lbs big.  They don’t apologize for the size or the way they operate and you have to earn their respect to get them to do the things they need to.  Add to this they are a prey animal which means they are constantly sure something is trying to kill them and yea it’s a new experience.

For me, I am one of those people who feels confident with everything I do.  Even if I am not sure, I go in with a confidence that I can handle the task.  Training a horse has taught me to be humble, focus on 1 task at a time and to learn that I don’t know it all!!

Being a leader is alot like horse training,  You have to be willing to humble yourself, stop believing you know it all and take it 1 task at a time.

As leaders we often fall into the trap that as leaders we know it all!  That there is nothing that we don’t know, don’t get me wrong being confident is important!  However, being over confident can be deadly!

For example, if I am trying to back my horse up, this is a big deal for them because they can’t see what’s behind them and then have to trust me to not put them in a place that will get them killed.  And trust me ANYTHING can kill them, leaves, dirt, air.. really!!  So the horse has to trust me to not put him in harms way. Just like my team has to trust me that I won’t do anything to put them in harms way.

For people, this is obviously different than horses.  For our team, they want to know that their work is going to be acknowledged, that when they do something right they are going to get the kudos they deserve.  Alternatively if something goes wrong, as a leader we will want to absorb that.  We don’t want to pick on our team unless it’s a serious error that continues to happen and then it becomes a performance issue. Protecting our team is very important!!

Learning is also important as a leader.  We must continue to push ourselves to grow in all areas, even ones we feel good about.  I highly recommend that as a leader you step out of your comfort zone and learn a skill that is not something you would normally do.  This can be just about anything, but being humbled by a skill that we aren’t good at is soo good for all of us!

Learning to humble ourselves and learn something new will make us a better person AND leader!

If you need me I’ll be watching horse training videos and trying to get my 1500lb friend to back up!