I’m an equestrian – or at least, I used to be. I still consider myself one even though it’s been a few years since I’ve ridden and worked with horses. Once it’s in your blood, you can never go back. But I digress.
While training for competition, I learned many valuable lessons (beyond the kind that made sure you didn’t canter off to your death). The psychology that comes with riding competitively offers a wealth of knowledge that you can apply to all sorts of areas of life, especially those outside the stables.
Let me share a few of those lessons with you:
Never take the little jumps for granted.
It’s easy to take little jumps for granted when the big ones are what you do every day. But any fool can jump big – all it takes is reckless guts and the strength to hang on. Put that person in front of a full-fledged course full of technical complexities, and it’s crash time.
It takes skills to jump small – and to jump well. Master the basics, slow down and pay attention to details. They’ll make a big difference when it comes time to navigate the continual hurdles of business – and you’ll be sailing over those big bars like they were child’s play.
Always look ahead to the next jump.
If you take each jump as they come, you’re only focusing on getting over this hurdle, and that’s narrow-sighted vision. There’s a whole course to complete. By the time you lift your head up, you might be mightily surprised to realize you need to check your speed or make a sharp turn – and you aren’t ready. The result? Crash.
Always focus on the jump ahead of the one you’re taking now – even before you’ve made it past this one. Presuppose the win, and let your mind assume that it’s already made this jump successfully because you’re looking ahead to the next. That’s a good way to build confident success so that you’re always ready for what’s coming at you – before you get there. You’ll be sailing through your business obstacles easily!
Never look back.
You’re almost over and suddenly you hear the dreaded thunk of hooves against wood. You glance back over your shoulder to check if the pole’s down. And you’re out. Done. Finished. You just carried out a useless action that cost you the whole win.
I’m not talking about knocking down the pole – I’m talking about focusing on the past. There’s nothing you can do about mistakes or failures, in horses or in business. Looking back takes your attention away from the task at hand, so stay forging forward and look for the results you can get, not the opportunities you lost.
Go first, even though you really want to go last.
It takes guts to volunteer to be the first rider. Most people need another rider to take the course first before they’ll step up to the gate for their turn. Even then, they’re a puddle of nerves. They’ve seen what they’re up again and the mistakes that were made –they’re already imagining their own mistakes and failures.
When you go first, you aren’t feeding your fears with other people’s mistakes; they haven’t made them yet. You have no competition to beat; they have to beat you instead. You don’t have to meet anyone else’s bar of standards; you set the standard for everyone else.
And in business, it’s exactly the same. Take a deep breath, be brave and slip to the head of the line. Have the courage to say, “I’ll go first.” The truth is that it takes a lot more willpower for everyone else to stand there watching you go ahead while their fears and anxiety eat them alive.
Besides, there’s a real satisfying feeling that comes from going first. You get to ride out of the ring grinning and tell your fearful peers, “Beat that, hotshot!”