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Jazzy Goals & the Brass Ring:  Harnessing Leadership Lessons from a Horse

Six years ago at 2 a.m. the phone rang awaking my husband and me from a forced sleep.  The voice on the other end said "We're sitting in your driveway with your horses".  We hung up, dressed quickly and ran outside to see our three new horses that were driven from Tennessee in the middle of the night 2 days after the United States became the target of a terrorist attack.

As I placed each horse in their stall I experienced mixed emotions.  I felt happiness and elation at reaching my dream of horse ownership and a deep sadness for the families and those who lost their life on 9/11.  It was a gut wrenching guilt for feeling so happy personally during one of the saddest and frightening times in our nation's history. 
Life does not stand still and we all must move forward with our lives.  Time waits for no one and all those other clichés are true.  As I moved forward I've not lost sight of how lucky we are to live in a country that allows us freedom to fulfill our dreams. 

Having accomplished my dream of having a farm and horse ownership; it was time to develop a few goals with my horses.  My first goal was to be able to trail ride my mare Jazz.  At the start I had no idea the process would be so intense, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding.  The big surprise was in how long the goal would take and how many lessons I would learn from my Jazzy mare. 

Jazz & I  grabbed the brass ring together by trail riding through the Metro Parks exactly 6 years from that emotionally charged day back on 9/13/01.  Jazz taught me many things about: 

1.  Clarifying your goals
2.  Developing Trust
3.  Learning from mistakes
4.  Finding and accepting support  
5.  Myself
6.  Rewards

Clarify the goal:  Originally my goal was simply to trail ride with Jazz.  It became clear after one or two rides, which were more like riding a bullet than a horse, that my goal required more thinking.  Jazz had some training under her saddle, but she was emotionally charged, spooked at everything, moved with a frenzy of forward motion and had no brakes.  For those non-horse people, no breaks means just like it sounds… she would not stop!  Can you imagine sitting on a 900 pound horse that is afraid of everything, is emotionally charged, and you can't stop her?  It's not a lot of fun.

Just as business owners and managers often overlook the importance of clarifying company and employee goals, I had oversimplified my goal and knew it needed refining.  I spent time visualized us on a trail ride and reframed the goal to "Ride as a team with Jazz, safely, comfortably, relaxed and secure in our abilities as we enjoy our environment and continue to develop our relationship."
Stepping back and reframing the goal with the end in mind provides a clear picture of what it would look like, and feel like when we had reached our goal.  In Seven Habits of Highly Effective people Steven Covey states "Begin with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice.  There's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things."  Using this principal allows us to visualize the end result we desire, carefully planning and developing a blue print before taking the steps forward to accomplish the goal.  Most companies and employees fail to meet their goals because they short change the process by going directly to the doing without embracing the mental creation fully.  

Well, I did visualize the end result but I didn't lay out a plan to achieve the goal.  Had I taken the time to completely visualize the end (mental creation) and developed a blueprint of how to reach my goal, I'm sure we could shaved a few years off our achievement date. 
And just because you have a blueprint doesn't mean you can't modify it or change it along the way, it's just a guide to keep you on task and focused.

Next month I'll discuss my 2nd lesson "Developing Trust"

Until then, how are your goals?  Do a quick check:

1.  Are you happy with the progress you are making on your goals?

2.  Have you completely visualized the goal with the end in mind?  Do you know what it looks like     and feels like?  How will you feel when you've accomplished your goal?

3.  Have you developed a blueprint to accomplish the goal? 

4.  When was the last time you reviewed and revised the blueprint?  Are you on target?

5.  If you are, have you celebrated your progress?

6.  If you're not, what's holding you back? 

September 2007 ISSUE

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