Posts Tagged ‘horse’

Just ask the horse

July 26, 2010

I heard a story about a man riding a horse at breakneck speed.  It appears he’s going someplace very important.  A man standing along the roadside shouts, “Where are you going?”  To which the rider yells back, “I don’t know.   Ask the horse.”

This seems to be essentially the story I’m hearing from lots of people today.  They’re riding the horse of circumstances, their habits or other people’s expectations.  If that describes you, it’s time to grab the reins and move your life in the direction of where you really want to go.

One of the defining moments of my life occurred when I was about 13 years old.  The direction of my life was pretty clear.  My dad was a farmer – and expected me to help him and to eventually take over the family farm.  I acknowledged that because of my circumstances and the family I was born into, farming would in fact be my future.

Then I somehow got a copy of the little 33.3 rpm recording of Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret.  The central message was this – We become what we think about.  That opened a door to a whole new world of possibilities for me that has never been closed.

What are you thinking about?  If your mind is controlled by the bad economy, the recession, the unemployment, the unfairness of the company, the hurt of a past relationship, or the limitations of your formal education, your “horse” will be taking you toward scarcity, misery, and unhappiness.

Honestly, I still enjoy many things about farm life, and love the pleasures of living in the country on our little farm today.  But what I saw as limitations are gone.  And yes, that’s really my tractor – a 1937 Allis Chalmers B.

Where is your thinking taking you?  Is some wild horse of circumstances misdirecting you, or are you moving exactly in the direction of your dreams?

Click here to watch a 3 minute video of The Strangest Secret.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things…..and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Phil 4: 8-9 KJV)

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Just gimme a faster horse

June 23, 2010

As thinkers, inventors and entrepreneurs we hear a lot of clichés.  “Find a need and fill it.”  “The customer is always right.”  “Winners never quit; quitters never win.”  And so on.  But as entrepreneurs we recognize that common clichés are often not true at all – as with those just mentioned.

If you wait for your customers to tell you what they want, you’re going to be too late.  You’ll go the way of universities that “teach” business practices that have already been used for 5 years by the brightest and best in real business.

What did customers in Henry Ford’s day want – not the Model T; they wanted faster horses.  Giving customers what they want will force you to be playing catch-up with competitors.  Steve Jobs doesn’t give customers what they want – he creates innovative and unheard of products and then wows people into wanting them.

If you provide the service your employer wants you will get a paycheck and two days off a week (feed the nice horsey).  What would happen if you provided an idea or service that would transform your company?

Horse Head or Masterpiece?

March 31, 2009

When I was 13 years old I painted a horse head with a paint by numbers layout. I thought it was pretty good, but now that I’ve seen some real masterpieces I realize it was pretty amateurish. The paint was clumpy where I tried to stay inside the identified lines. It didn’t look real; it just looked like I did a good job of painting. My wife Joanne, on the other hand, has drawn some amazing pieces – always starting with a blank canvas and then allowing her imagination to direct her brush or pencil.

I realize now that life’s opportunities are presented to us in much the same way. If we paint by the numbers (take the first job, put money in CDs, buy a Ford car, purchase shirts at J.C. Penney, and have two weeks vacation every year) we will see predictable results. You know what it’s going to be – and it might be good, but it will never be amazing to you or anyone else. The only way to get a masterpiece is to start with a blank canvas. Of course, with a blank canvas you could also end up with a disaster that you decide to throw away. But the very next one may be the masterpiece that will make the world remember you.

While you may think this is about willingness to take “risk” or that it’s a reflection of “personality style” I think it’s more about dreaming, imagining and taking action. And this is not just a business or career decision – it’s more a question of the kind of life we want to live. Think of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Bono, Oprah, Rick Warren, Howard Schultz or Billy Graham. Their personality styles cover the entire range of possibilities and no one would consider Billy Graham a risk-taker. But all of them had big dreams, started with a blank canvas and then took action to create their own unique masterpieces.

Here’s what experts are telling us we will have for the remainder of 2009: uncertainty, chaos, turbulence, turmoil, confusion and insecurity. Sounds like a paint by the number life is going to be hard to find anyway.

So you get to choose what you are creating today – a horse head or the Mona Lisa?

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“Success is never an accident. It typically starts as imagination, becomes a dream, stimulates a goal, grows into a plan of action – which then inevitably meets with opportunity. Don’t get stuck along the way.” Dan Miller

Did You Lose Your Horse Today?

September 23, 2008

Like most of you, I have been hearing a lot of personal examples of “disaster” this week.  No gas, no job, no retirement fund, worthless stock, cancelled vacations, and general uncertainty.  Rather than trying to create something profound I’d like to share this old story.

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, because he owned a beautiful white horse. People offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the old man always refused. “This horse is a friend, not a possession,” he would respond.

One morning the horse was not in the stable. All the villagers said, “You old fool. We told you someone would steal that beautiful horse. You could at least have gotten the money. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Perhaps. All I know is that my horse is gone; the rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.”

After fifteen days the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses back with him. Once again the village people gathered around the old man and said, “You were right – what we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.” The old man responded, “Perhaps. Once again you’ve gone too far. How do you know if this is a blessing or a curse? Unless you can see the whole story, how can you judge?” But the people could only see the obvious. The old man now had twelve additional horses that could be broken and sold for a great deal of money.

The old man had a son, an only son. He began to break the wild horses. Unfortunately, after just a few days, he fell from a horse and broke both his legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and said, “You were right. The wild horses were not a blessing; they were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs and now in your old age you have no one to help you. You are poorer than ever.” But the old man said, “Perhaps. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. We have only a fragment of the whole story.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country went to war with a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he had two broken legs. Once again the people gathered around, crying because there was little chance their sons would return. “You were right, old man.  Your son’s accident was a blessing.  Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are always quick to jump to conclusions. Only God knows the final story.”

And so it is with our lives. What we see as a blessing or a curse may simply be part of God’s preparation for what lies ahead.  Be careful in seeing “disaster” in any change.  Just recognize it as change – which opens the door for good as well as bad – for gain as well as possible loss.

I’ve spent 20 years seeing people go through unexpected and unwelcome change – and have enjoyed seeing most move on to more opportunity, freedom, fulfillment and income.

Free Beer Tomorrow!

February 22, 2008

free-beer-tomorrow-_2.jpg

The sultan of Persia had sentenced two men to death. One of them, knowing how much the sultan loved his stallion, offered to teach the horse to fly within a year in return for his life. The sultan, fancying himself the rider of the only flying horse in the world, agreed. 

The other prisoner looked at his friend in disbelief. “You know horses don’t fly. What made you come up with a crazy idea like that? You’re only postponing the inevitable.” “Not so,” said the first prisoner. “I have actually given myself four chances for freedom. First, the sultan might die during the year. Second, I might die. Third, the horse might die. And fourth-I might teach the horse to fly.”  (from No More Mondays, page 107)

Wow! I like this guy’s thinking. Rather than giving in to victim mentality and acquiescing to his immediate death, with one creative suggestion, he creates four possible outcomes for his future. 

Okay, why the “Free Beer Tomorrow” lead-in?   I always chuckle when I see this popular sign in the window of pubs around the world.  Of course, it’s a joke since it is an eternal promise that is always unfulfilled.  And yet the promise of a better tomorrow is not to be taken lightly.  From concentration camps to the finest academic institutions we see examples of those who can survive horrific circumstances or die in despair in the midst of the finest opportunities known to man.

Without the hope of a brighter future tomorrow we are all doomed.  Many of you are in positions where you can offer hope to those questioning what tomorrow will bring.  Whatever your service, know that it’s not just your brilliant knowledge that people are looking for.  In addition they want to be assured that there will come a better day.

Incidentally I’m not a beer guy – I’ve never had one in my life.  But I like the thought behind this phrase nonetheless.  Don’t be surprised if you see a “Free Beer Tomorrow” sign in my office window — tomorrow!