I DIDN’T EVEN SEE IT COMING

Last weekend I was supposed to be competing in a show.  I took my horse to the venue, saddled up and was warming up.  Walk, trot canter – everything great.  Then I started popping over a few small jumps – everything still going smoothly – my horse keen and seeming to be enjoying herself.  Then I came on a tight right hand turn to the jump and blam!!  I didn’t even see it coming!  Suddenly, I was on the ground, on my feet in front of my horse – facing her!  In the back of my mind was this vague memory of her hindlegs coming up in a powerful buck.  I felt like a catapult had shot me into the air.  I must have done a complete somersault to have landed as I did! Fortunately for me , the jump broke my fall!

The thing is that my horse doesn’t normally buck, she is the sweetest most willing mare.  If she bucks, it is a signal of pain. Horses buck as a defence mechanism to protect against predators – so that reaction is almost involuntary.  So I knew that this meant that she had some type of muscular or structural issue.  The only way that horses can communicate that there is a problem is by “misbehaving”.

She had injured herself at the beginning of the year, causing muscular strain and needing chiropractic and physio treatment.  This was her first show back in competition. Now I say that I didn’t see it coming, but in hindsight, there had been signals that she was starting to feel discomfort again.  But I think I was in denial.  I didn’t want to acknowledge that the problems were recurring, in case it meant that I would not be able to ride in the show.  This is one of the blind spots that I talked about in my last newsletter.

  • I don’t want to see or acknowledge the true situation

I was not consciously aware that I was hiding these messages from myself.  My poor horse had been gently trying to let me know that there was a problem.  The messages became more forceful, until they were unmistakeable!

This can happen so easily in our relationships.  We don’t see what we don’t want to see – ignoring messages until it reaches explosion point – and then we are “WTF???  Where did that come from???

As always, the first step to change is awareness.  So the awareness that I may be creating blind spots about things that I don’t like, means that hopefully I will be less likely to do so.  Are there blind spots in my other relationships?  I am sure there must be!!  How can I find these? How can you know if you have blind spots?  These are ways that occur to me:

  • Get the honest opinion of people that you trust and respect
  • Work on really listening to others – listening to understand, not listening to reply
  • Honestly evaluate my role in any problems in a relationship

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW?

Following on from last week’s newsletter, I have been giving a lot of thought to the issue of “blind spots.” I think there are two different types of blind spots:

  • I am totally unaware of the true situation
  • I don’t want to see or acknowledge the true situation

They are each subtly different.

In my last newsletter I talked about my experience of fixing problems with riding.  I had a whole long list of things that I was trying to correct in my riding – rounding my shoulders, my leg flying back over the jump, not holding with my knee at the jump, getting ahead of the movement, not seeing a stride and so on. These problems were symptoms of an underlying basic flaw.   I fixed my centre of gravity, and those problems have basically disappeared.

But here’s the thing –I don’t know what I don’t know.  It takes someone else to show me what I don’t know.  Then it is up to me to accept and work to change it.  The first step to change is awareness.  The most powerful thing that any coach does is to shine a light on the blind spot, so that we can become aware of it.

If I refuse to accept it, then I lose the opportunity to grow and change.  Sometimes it can be really hard to accept and acknowledge the truth.  A really great coach is someone who can show the truth, gently and in such a way that you gain the insight yourself as a self-realization.  That is the kind of coach that I aspire to be.

The other thing to remember, is that sometimes we are as blind to our strengths and talents as we are to our faults.  Be willing to accept that you may be really great at something!  If people praise you, believe them!  Say thank you and be grateful!

So here’s to becoming aware.  To shining a light on blind spots.  To being courageous and kind.

 

WHAT IS YOUR GIFT

I have given a lot of thought to the theme of knowing what we really want. The intersection between our gifts, our passion and a way to serve others should lead us to the ideal business or career.  What we would love to spend the rest of our life doing.  Is this something that everybody in the world can achieve?  Definitely not.  But can it be achieved by someone who actively pursues this ideal?  Without a doubt.

 

It seems to me that the emphasis that we, as a society, place on competition, and on achievement has created a mindset of “Winner take all”.  So when I think of pursuing my gifts, the thinking that holds me back is along the lines of “Other people are much better than me”.

 

Some time ago I bought a DVD of a Ludger Beerbaum show jumping coaching clinic.  Ludger Beerbaum is one of the greatest horse riders in the world, so I was really excited to watch him teaching.  Well, he is probably one of the worst instructors I have ever seen!  He obviously doesn’t know how he does, what he does, it is totally unconscious!  So he is a great rider, but a poor communicator.  Being the best at something doesn’t necessarily mean that we can pass this gift on – and conversely, sometimes having struggled to acquire skills, means that we can pass on that knowledge more effectively.  What I mean by this as well, is that we don’t necessarily have to be the best at something in the world in order to positively contribute, or possibly to earn a living doing it.

 

I think that we also tend to think of gifts as being something relating to the arts, or sport.  Also as a mysterious quality that has been bestowed on us.  A gift can be anything that we are good at – maybe listening, or communicating, or knitting – anything!

 

In reality, whatever we do, there are always going to be people that are better.  However my greatest gift should be the thing that I do best (better than I do anything else) – not the thing that I can do better than others.  What is important is that nobody else can bring my unique personality to the world.  Each person is totally unique, and their expression of their gift will also be totally unique.

 

What is my greatest gift? Well, according to a survey I carried out some time ago, the response I got seems to indicate that it may be building confidence and trust.  My greatest passion? Well that’s easy – horses!  Is there a way to combine these in the service of others?  Maybe workshops with horses to help people build relationships?

 

Where is your intersection?  If you knew, would you pursue it?

 

Have a wonderful weekend