Keep your eye on the post
With spring comes change, the long awaited transformation from brown and white to green and fresh. It is a change that everyone easily adapts to: it is anticipated; expected and for the most part predictable.
Change is something we are not typically great at managing. Anything that requires we step outside the comfort zone of routine challenges our flexibility, tolerance and impulse control; in short a few key attributes of emotional intelligence (EQ).
Life tends to throw us a test when we least expect it. In the midst of anticipating the relief of spring, just days before a session, change happened. Cell phone in hand a woman ran a red light and totalled my truck. A replacement truck found for the day of the program, the weather couldn’t have been worse for hauling and the second planned trailer to move horses did not show up – despite those initial challenges we were able to run a full program by borrowing two additional horses from the stable I had leased; for all intensive purposes everything went well.
Then end of the day, Amy my little black paint mare with the blue eye, tried unsuccessfully to jump out of the pen she was in and seriously injured herself. After two weeks of constant care the prognosis was not good and the prospects of surgery slim so we had to make the decision to say goodbye. A three legged horse simply doesn’t get by.
Each incident in and of itself felt overwhelming, combined I do admit it has been a tough few weeks. I can’t say I have been the best at managing my own emotions when frustration, helplessness and all the what if I’d done this or that scenarios replay in my brain.
Of the many questions I have asked myself it was the observation by Temple Grandin that came to mind “we may see the world in color, animals see it in detail.” Despite all the experience of have gained in working with horses I still miss details a horse would not. One thing I will not overlook is how much horses have helped me in managing my emotions. Over the past few weeks the EQ competencies that have repeatedly surfaced speak to adaptability; flexibility and the most important optimism. Separating the emotions from the job at hand and making the required decisions is something leaders have to do on a regular basis. Which suggests to me an attribute which should be added to the list of competencies of emotional intelligence “what doesn’t kill you makes you grow stronger”.
Throughout this process of change many have been there to support me. As with the promise of spring so too have there been many signs of hope. After a quiet winter numerous program inquiries have come in, I am scheduled to present at three events in the coming months and I have met so many wonderful people who stepped in to help a stranger. Finding the silver lining of change is something we have to look for.
The photo is my favourite image of Amy doing her job. Teaching a future leader of the importance of focus, confidence and communication. When Cale passed the lead rope over to the next four year old in line at our family day event, he told him to “just look at the posts.”