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cows and horses
clear blue sky
many horses
flat on my back
fellow employee
analogy
buddies
Stay In The Saddle: A Balancing Act
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Stay In the Saddle: A Balancing Act

The laughter could be heard ringing out across the desert. I was listening to them as I looked up at the clear blue sky from my position being face up on the ground, flat on my back. I did not think what my horse did to me was very funny at all.

I sat up a little dazed and said... well I can't exactly say what I said here, but suffice it to say I wasn't happy!

Let me just say that when a cutting horse turns left to gather a stray, you'd better be ready to go with him when he decides to make that move!

That's how I found myself being laugh at and enjoying the clear blue sky. I had been on many horses, but never on a cutting horse like Stanley. He was probably the best in the state. I began to think who was in charge here? My horse or me!

We were out gathering cattle on the range and I felt very relaxed in the saddle. I wasn't even holding the reins most of the time. Stanley knew what he was doing. I was just along for the ride.

I have thought of this experience often. I can laugh about it now just about as hard as my cowboy buddies did out on the range, well almost anyway. As with many other stories, I have brought this one into my workplace a time or two.

I know that we as managers get in the 'groove' at times because of how well things are going. We let go of the reins and allow things to be on autopilot. We simply sit back and relax.

It feels great to be in the saddle and enjoy the fall breeze and the sunshine. The horse (employees) are doing great. But all of a sudden from out of nowhere, they make a sharp turn. A project has stalled out because another employee has dropped the ball.

Hope the employees I have managed in the past don't mind me using them in this analogy as cows and horses! But I think you get the point here.

How can we keep everyone going in the same direction? It is not easy. If the manager (cowboy) relaxes and is not even holding the reins, who becomes the one in charge. The employee (horse) suddenly steers sharply to the left to correct a fellow employee (cow, now ladies keep your bonnets on here! No gender is implied!). In the sudden turn of events the manager (cowboy) is left in the star gazing position.

I have experienced this both out on the range and in the workplace. A great manager learns and grows with his team. He knows when to relax (not let go of the reins) and when to encourage his employees. When to give directions and when to allow employees to explore on their own. I have learned that staying in the saddle requires balance. That same balancing act is an essential key to being a good manager.


Street Talk

The horse is always in charge, and because of that, the horse has saved many lives throughout time.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

The horse being in charge can cause you to be flat on your back too! LOL Thanks for the read, Shawn.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Joan S  

Well, I can tell you are a good manager, but what I like the most is the color in your story telling. I feel transported to western USA just reading your writing. The cowboy comes through.These analogies get the point across in a fun way. You tell a good story McK. Why don't you write some fiction. I think you can develop characters and situations very well, even use yourself as a model. You can warm up with a book on management if you want. I think you have some stories in you.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Awe! You are too kind, Joan! I am taking the advice of SA authors like yourself, Rob and Cynthia! I am undertaking a book. Maybe I will use SA to bounce Titles and such off of! Stay tuned! It's a big work in progress!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I think you are a guy I would like to meet. Your managing style is one I can appreciate. Thanks for sharing Liked

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for that, John! Would love to meet up someday! I have an inkling of a book in the works. Rob has me all fired up! LOL

Reply
  about 9 years ago

That's a good thing. You certainly have the talent

  
  about 9 years ago

Wow! Good post, Mac. What I was thinking..you're definitely a good manager ...ha?

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thank you, Divine Victory! tried to be but sometimes felt like I was hogtied with a blindfold on when it came to getting things done as a manager! Thanks for the great input and compliment! It is very much appreciated!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Wonderful! You've *got* to gather these up as part of your first ebook. Better yet, an eMP3! You're becoming "amazing!" now.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Between you and Rob, how can I refuse? LOL Thank you so much for the great support here. I have never done anything like this before. And oh, by the way, what is an eMP3? I have heard of an MP3 player. That's what some of my kids use to listen to music.. A big Thank you for the great compliment there. I guess I am to close to my own writing...LOL. I just write what I been thinking and some of the experiences I have had. The suggestion was write about a subject that you know well. I know my life better than anyone! LOL And then I just tried to apply it to the many issues facing me and others as managers.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Great article my friend Mac.. I love the way you pen your articles and can see a book on management forth coming... Having been a manager and owner of businesses I can attest to all you expoundings.. But to get to your analogy, I went for a ride on my cousins polo pony, not being an accomplished horse rider I tended to do things wrong, but what they forgot to tell me is how to drive this stick shift... carousing through the fields at a fair gallop, (you see there was a beautiful girl riding with me) showing off a bit, I wanted the horse to turn a slight veering to the left, pulling on the rein the horse followed my instruction, that is how it had been trained, it turn around and went in the opposite direction, something polo players teach their horses I believe, a slight veer is communicated through the knees, so they told me later. The horse turned, no indicators nothing, just I didn't turn with it and continued straight on. This was a land where cattle had been grazing, luckily the pat was dry where I landed, yet I still had to spit a lot out.. my ego dashed completely when this beautiful young girl sat on her horse laughing so much she could not ask if I was all right... dang horses, yet my own business had made similar turns that required an immediate reassessment, fortunately often for the better... great article that with all sincerity you should consider a book on management styles based on these type analogies... it has to be a success... I'll even edit it for you, free of charge....

Reply
  about 9 years ago

How can I not! Wow I really appreciate the encouragement! I am beginning to put it together. Have a list of possible titles and chapter headings. I have even researched similar books out there, but have not found any that use horse type experiences as the way to being a better manager. Guess it will be somewhat unique then, won't it! I think I probably have it half written with all the material I have been writing here at SA! I have your email and will send you some ideas I have privately. Thanks, Rob for the kick in the arse for this ole boy!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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