Tag Archives: goal

From The Horse’s Mouth

Actually, the only thing that came from the horse’s mouth was a small nip on Barbara’s thigh.  Everything else we took away came from insight gained while participating in leadership and teambuilding activities with six team members, one horse, and two Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) leaders.  It was a chance to pet horses and play all afternoon, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Better yet, we each learned more about how to work together as a group while being under pressure to achieve multiple goals.  It was a perfect fit, as the teams included school board trustees participating in the 2013 class of Leadership Texas Association of School Boards.

Our horse, Annabelle, was a gentle and patient horse.  The horsemanship on our team ranged from “never touched a horse” to team roper.  By the end of the first exercise, we had each found an excuse to lead and pat the horse, which gave us more confidence about how the afternoon might go.

The next exercise assigned each of us a role or goal, some of which conflicted with another team member’s role or goal.  We were very pleased with how quickly we moved from keeping our assignment a secret to sharing our intentions with each other.  The co-leaders purposely did not state any rules, and we soon realized we were making up rules that didn’t exist, like not telling others our goal or role.  Immediately after this realization, we started sharing information.  Excitedly we finished our assignments and began congratulating ourselves while making analogies to real-life situations.  We were busy talking about how often information is better shared than held close, when we realized we had missed one of the other points of the lesson.

It came in the form of Annabelle’s nip.  Clearly, the nip was intended as more of a scolding than a warning.  It left no physical mark, but mentally underscored how important it is to pay attention to the needs of others who are affected by our decisions.  You see, once we had accomplished what we needed to do with Annabelle, we ignored her.  We were all crowded around her, but engaging only with each other in those moments.  Oops.

There were many more lessons to be learned that afternoon.  You will have to try it to see what insight you might gain, however here is one more that stood out to me:  It’s easy to break the rules when you are intent on completing a goal, especially your want to do it more quickly than another team.  A later exercise required all but one member to remain silent, with those same silent members grouped between two buckets placed several feet apart along the fence.  The lone member could speak and move about without regard to the buckets.

When frustrated by our inability to help our team leader, we cleverly picked up the buckets so the rest of the team could move around as a group and help out.  It was hard to stay between buckets while helping our leader and simultaneously dodging turns of the horse.  We didn’t intend to break that rule, but often did.  Oh, and the talking rule?  We consciously broke it repeatedly in our zeal to finish the task.

Luckily, before we started the last lesson, the co-leaders suggested we define a method for correcting ourselves when we broke a rule.  This revealed another important lesson.  Once we decided amongst ourselves that the rules were important, devised a method for reporting infractions, and even created a “punishment” for the team each time we broke a rule, we found we did not break them again – not even once.

Taking ownership is more effective than simply being told what to do.

Yep, lots of life lessons can be found in the horse arena.  Thanks to Annabelle, we had a chance to put on our boots and enjoy learning some of them.

P.S.  There are EAL facilities all across Texas, however the one holding our team/leadership building activities is Five Horses, LLC.

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“Bloody Hell”

Actually, the giving of my blood was quite easy.  It was qualifying to give blood that was so difficult!  The experience reminded me that once a goal is set, you’ll find ways to make it happen.   The key is simply to define and own the goal.

Monday morning, I didn’t intend to give blood.  Then at noon that day, Bob Sagebiel told my Rotary club about why military blood drives are so important.  He said this was a special drive as we were particularly low on blood.  He explained the military must buy blood at retail prices from private blood banks when they are low, military programs cannot ask civilians to donate, and soldiers are often restricted from giving blood for years due to their deployment destinations. 

Many years ago, Bob learned civilians can give blood when they form their own volunteer groups and invite the military to participate.   So, he organized a group of volunteers and donors and invited the military to collect blood in Fredericksburg.  It’s been very successful, with hundreds of units collected each time this town of ten thousand is asked to participate. 

The catch is collections must be done at a federal facility and ours is two miles out of town.  Nobody drives by this facility and thinks, “Oh, look there’s a blood drive!  I can give blood today.”  No, if you are driving by the Armory, you saw an email, stopped at a booth at HEB (our local grocery), or were told about it by a friend.  It’s clear the program is successful because Bob’s group works very hard to spread the word.  Right then and there, I decided to give blood.

It really didn’t occur to me I was setting a goal, but I was.  It was clearly defined, had a date, action steps, and measurable result:  I would give blood this week, block an hour in my schedule, drive to the facility, and leave a pint of “O positive”.  Technically, I even wrote it down – in my calendar.

Easy, right?  Well, not this time.  I had to work at it, repeatedly.  I drove out to the facility three times before I succeeded in giving blood!  What’s ironic is before I set the goal, I wasn’t willing to drive out there once, yet after setting it I drove out multiple times, did research in between, and even called upon others to help me out.  Once I owned this goal, much effort went into making it happen.

You may wonder what happened.  First, I was in Mexico last December, and wasn’t sure how far south of the border I had traveled, so I was asked to come back once it had been a year since my trip.  I could easily given up then, but once set, goals have a way of pulling you toward reaching them. 

“Once set, goals have a way of pulling you toward them.”

I went online, researched the area we had visited in Mexico, and printed a map showing the longitude and latitude, since the rulebook definition went by these coordinates.  My travels were far north of areas of concern.  I went back to try again and received a high-five from the volunteer who took my registration and sent me to step two.

Then a new barrier appeared:  my teeth were too clean.  Yes, normally this is a good thing, but earlier that day I had been to the dentist for a cleaning.  There is a rule requiring 24 hours after a cleaning before you can give blood.  Seriously?!  Yep.  Something about bacteria being stirred up which I really didn’t want to imagine.  Luckily, I had one more day to try again.

On the way home, I called for back-up, just in case my efforts the next day failed.  I did what many people do when they need help.  I called Mom.  She’s given gallons of blood over the years, but she is new to town and probably didn’t know about the blood drive.  If she gave blood because I told her about it, then I could reach my goal that way, and maybe double it myslef by returning the next day.

It was then I realized how my behavior changed once I set my goal.  By making the decision and owning the goal, I automatically thought of solutions and aligned my actions to make it work.  Rather than giving up after the second try, I awoke determined to try a third time.  In my zeal to be successful, Mom learned about the drive and is now an advocate.  Best of all, I lost a pint of blood this morning and reached my goal!

I tell you, some goals can be “bloody hell!”, but this one was worth it.

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