Hitting the Dirt

Ever had that conversation that could have gone better? What you could have done differently or should have said that just might have changed the outcome?

or as a fine horseman once suggested being able to recognize: “What happened, before what happened, happened?” ¹

Well, it happened! Fortunately the spring dirt is relatively soft so with a quick scan that all body parts were intact, I picked myself up, gathered up the reins of the horse still staring in mortal fear at the object and got ready to get back on. The older I get the more I wish I’d listened to what the horse had been telling me before they had to scream.

Horsemanship, like leadership is simple. I just wish both were easier! I have to keep reminding myself when things go sideways literally “At least I learned something”!
Achieving success at Work & Life, One Conversation at a Time is the subtitle of, Fierce Conversations. In her book Scott defines The Seven Principles of Fierce Conversations as the foundation on which our relationships succeed or fail.
The relationships and corresponding conversations with my horses just happen to be non-verbal. Succeeding or failing in that dialogue can take on several dimensions.
Had I paid better attention to at least three of the seven principles my less than successful ride may have looked a little different.
• Master the courage to interrogate reality – no plan survives it’s collision with reality.
• Be here, be prepared to be nowhere else – Participate as if it matters.
• Obey your instincts – Don’t trust your instincts-obey them.
The third principle – Obey my instincts – would have reminded me of the wisdom of Tom Dorrance, “Horses are only afraid of two things. Things that move and things that don’t.” and I likely would have been prepared better to apply Scott’s second principle, “Be here, be prepared to be no where else.” 
Oliver was wary the first time we had passed by the large box dumped at the side of the road his approach was similar on the return trip. However, I had failed to interrogate the current reality, one of the dogs sniffing her way around the object. That piece of junk came to life!
Oliver moved, I stayed in the same spot. My plan became a collision course with the ground. 
Had I truly been exactly where we both were at that point in time, had obeyed my instincts, I would have been able to participate like it did matter. The reality is, the outcome would have felt a whole lot different.
Operating The Natural Leader over the past eleven years has also surfaced the odd difficult conversation. I admit I have not handled all of them that well, as I too was learning and figuring things out as I was going.
The toughest conversations for me have been when a program did not reach a client expectations. Ironically had I “Obeyed my Instincts” many of the issues surfaced would likely have had a different outcome. Fortunately each Fierce Conversation has also led to changes that have strengthened my approach to a conversation and led to better results in The Natural Leader programs.
Regardless of the books read, programs taken or ideas studied to prepare me for the “what ifs”. It is the in the moment conversations that provide the greatest opportunity for change. With the luxury of time I can pause and consider the next step, other times I hit the dirt.
At that point all you can do is “Get up, dust yourself off and get back on.”

Nancy Lowery has been blogging about her Leadership Learning through Horsemanship Experiences for almost ten years. Writing has helped clarify many of the concepts we discuss in The Natural Leader programs. To explore how a day with horses can complement your Leadership Training programs Nancy would love to hear from you. 

1 Ray Hunt

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