Some time ago I wrote a Tip about hiring race horses, not mules. It referenced my days as a school principal when one of my wise mentors advised me to always hire race horses, not mules as school teachers. He told me that it was easier to get a race horse to slow down a little bit than it was to get a mule to move! It is an easy analogy to understand. If you want to hire someone to help you, whether it is in an educational environment or a work environment, you always want someone who will “get after it” and is upbeat, excited and positive about what they are doing. If you have ever had the experience of trying to get an employee to do something that they did not want to do, you know what I am talking about. You may have the authority and power to force them to do the task at hand, but it will not be enjoyable for you or for them.
I was sharing that concept recently with a group of people, reminding them how to look for people with whom they could potentially work. After I finished explaining the difference between race horses and mules, one person said that there was a little bit more to that story. I asked if they would please share it with me. The person went on to explain that the only thing worse than not hiring a race horse is to hire a race horse and then NOT letting it run. In other words, a race horse is born to run. It is in his nature to take off, be aggressive, to achieve and win. When you hire a person with that nature, but do not give them the opportunity to use their gifts, talents and abilities freely, it is very frustrating for them. And, you may have created a different kind of problem for yourself and them. Part of a race horse’s mentality is to try things they have never tried before; to do things they have never done before; and to go places they have never been before. It can be very frustrating to you if you feel as though they are “out of control,” but, to the race horse it does not feel like being out of control at all. It is simply accomplishing new heights and taking on new territory.
As I reflected on those insights, I thought, “That is really true.” I know I have worked with some race horses and, at times, I have given them the freedom to run, but at other times, I have hampered their running ability. That is not fair to the race horse. If you do not want a race horse, then do not acquire one. But, if you do acquire one, do not be surprised when they take off and run faster than you were expecting!
If you work with a person, or have a mate or a child who was born to run, let them run. If you expect them to sit still, move slowly and take things easy, you will have created a painful experience for them. Instead of achieving the heights they were designed and destined to achieve, they may simply shut down.
If you have ever seen the movie, Seabiscuit, you may recall that the trainer of that horse told the new owner that Seabiscuit had forgotten how to be a horse. He said, “This horse was born to run and all he has been doing is lying around in pastures. He has forgotten how to be a horse.” I love that movie because it showed how an animal that had forgotten how to be a horse became the world famous race horse that we still talk about today.
Look around this week for the race horses in your life. It may be a child or a mate. It may be a co-worker or an employee. Regardless of who it is, look for ways to let them run. It may be a little difficult for you to handle their speed, but when you allow them to run unhindered, they may give to you and to the rest of the world something that it otherwise may never have known.
Tip: Let your race horses run!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm
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