Some time ago, I wrote a Tip about hiring racehorses, not mules. It referenced my days as a school principal when one of my wise mentors advised me to always hire racehorses, not mules, as schoolteachers. He told me that getting a racehorse to slow down a little bit was easier than getting 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 explaining the difference between racehorses and mules, one person said there was a little 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 racehorse is to hire a racehorse and then NOT let it run. In other words, a racehorse is born to run. It is in his nature to take off, be aggressive, 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 racehorse’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 racehorse, 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 racehorses, 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 racehorse. If you do not want a racehorse, 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 child 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 to be a horse became the world-famous racehorse we still talk about today.
Look around this week for the racehorses 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 otherwise may never have known.
Tip: Let your racehorses run!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm