Growing up Entrepreneur: 5 business lessons from a horse.

After reading Ryan Holmes’ post on ” 5 Management Secrets I learned from my dog” last month, I was inspired.

Most anyone who works with me or spends any length of time will hear about my “family of animals”. Myself and my loving partner have a chihuahua, a pit bull, a Siamese cat, an American Paint, and an Arabian. Along with a few chickens, and a few other horses under our care.

Gatsby & Em

I live in a rare place that offers me a downtown city home, 5 minutes to my office and 25 minutes to our little mountain farm. I don’t write today as an expert, quite the opposite actually, today I write as a cowboy and farmer in training. 

I grew up with dogs, cats and horses at my doorstep. It was not uncommon to help the neighbours collect the horses before we took the school bus in the morning.

But until now, I have not really had the place to exercise my “farmer muscles”. Enter my partner and love of my life (pictured), and enter the Horses.

Riding horses is not like the movies. The idea of “breaking” a horse, saddling up and riding off into the sunset is a Hollywood idea, not reality. A horse is a super sensitive animal and needs to learn about you, as much as you need to learn about him (both of ours are boys, big boys).

I am on a journey, another one, with our horses this time. I am slowly and surely building a relationship with them, that will assure a healthy and long-lasting friendship and relationship. I have the best teacher, she is a professional in the craft of “Natural Horsemanship“, and I am building a rapport with them all.

Here are 5 business lessons I have learned from the process so far;

  1. Patience is not a virtue, it is a requirement. In natural horsemanship, you are on the horses time. In business, as much as you would like to think the contrary, you are on the horses time. Each day I am communicating with as much urgency as possible, but true patience is a must when doing so. These days I just try to keep 14 days ahead in my calendar, so any “reactions” to urgent issues can be met with time and organization. This could not be more true in horses, or with people for that matter.
  2. Master the body language, verbal is secondary. In natural horsemanship, you don’t start with a saddle, you ride bareback. Most of the communication with the horse is non-verbal, you are “opening” your body up to the direction you intend to go, you are breathing deeply to allow the horse to feel your desire to stop. If you are not in tune with “silent communication” or the body language in your meetings, you are behind the horse. Without a strong sense of the non-verbal, the horse is likely to throw you, and so are the people across the table.
  3. Focus on the present task, getting ahead of yourself comes with a price. As I said, most of the communication with the horse is non-verbal, so if you are getting  too far ahead of yourself….see yah, horse will toss you. People need clear and focused ideas, that are present (today, I, now, etc). I cannot stress this enough, as most entrepreneurs LOVE to get so far ahead of an idea that they forget to create the plan for the smallest execution. Plan for the future but be present when it comes time to implement.
  4. Don’t expect results, if you are still plugged in. This should be common place, but it isn’t. Instagramming while on your horse is a hazard, and until you are an expert and have the horses FULL respect, you should not even try. With the land of ever smarter “devices”, it get’s harder and harder to unplug. Watch the productivity sore when you all unplug during your collaborative time.
  5. Be consistent. Consistency is king in any business. Not dull, not lack of creativity, consistent. Consistent in your approach, your communication, your goal setting and your scheduling. Rhythm allows for more productivity and less reactivity. Consistent Rhythm allows the horse and the businesswoman to work with you, even if you are busy.

As I continue this journey I am excited by the personal growth that one can find from developing a natural relationship with a horse. Here is to hoping I can apply it to my business for the same lifetime I intend on applying it with my horse.

Get to doing!

Leave a Reply