You have to lighten your grip

This is the statement I heard while getting riding instructions from what appeared to be an old mountain man at the smokey mountain riding stables in Tennessee.  Actually a great guide with a lot of knowledge and wisdom.

The reason I thought of this? It rings true for many things in life.  The explanation from our riding guide was simple.  The horse knows how to walk and how to turn.  He has years of experience.  He knows how to avoid the holes on the trail and how not to hurt himself.  If you hold on to tight and try to twist his head in the direction you think he should go, he will stop.  He may go the way you want but it will be slow and uncomfortable and he may get annoyed enough with you and try to brush you off (with a big tree branch).  Remember he has years of experience. Our guide then told us to simply lay the reigns on the side we wanted to go and the horse will get you there.  keep your feet firmly planted in the stirrups because it makes it more comfortable for you and the horse.  Most of all on this trip have fun and enjoy the view.

How could horse riding lessons fit into our lives as managers? and yes we are all managers in one way or the other. We all manage people at some point in our lives.  Well if you ride around with a “death grip” on everything, trying to control every outcome and every event you will be uncomfortable, those around you will be uncomfortable.  You may go slower than you wanted and those you are controlling with your tight grip  may even try to knock you off .  Worse yet you may even point someone in a direction where they or you get hurt.

Lightening your grip is not to imply you let go of control but rather use the experienced people around you to move in the direction you want to go.  It is not manipulating but team work.  Still it is critical to remain in control and not drop the reigns because the horse will actually go on its own and of course it is not where you need him to go.  Back to the barn to get something to drink or to the nearest delicious looking plant.  In fact our guide did tell us to give a little tug on the reigns if our horse started eating some yummy looking plant.  Many of the plants on the trial were not good for them.  A brief and quick correction was the best approach and they will get it.  Those who didn’t would get sick from eating the wrong thing.

Now for a parent perspective:

Children I know are not experienced but rather need the experience.  One of course needs to keep control and guide them.  Here again the death grip and yanking them in the direction you want them to go will make them buck you ever time.  Lightening the grip in many cases has helped me along the way to feel more comfortable.  I am sure it has done the same for my kids.  We parents will still be there (riding their backs of course)  but laying the reigns to ether side indicating the best direction we see from our vantage point.  Our kids have to take the steps, feel their way along the path giving them the expanding trail experience.  Moving further and further away from home until one day they will be able to take someone else on the trail with them.

I still think sometimes you do have to hold on tight.  But for the most part  lightening your grip on things can help smooth the corners out and make things more comfortable.  Not ever ride is the same.

I will admit I am the worst taker of my own advice.  I still have to remind myself to lighten up or let go.  That is partly why I started writing my experiences and what they have meant to me.  Hopefully these experience stories spark something in you that makes you think.

What do you have a death grip on?

Work, employees, spouse or Kids?

How could lightening up help you and those around you?




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