Are Your Tools Helping or Hurting You?

I’ve been riding horses for over three decades. (This will come as no surprise to you if you have read some of my previous blogs or have attended or considered our professional development retreats). 

Even after so many years of riding, I still take regular riding lessons. Most of the time, the lesson is simply a reminder of what I already know. But sometimes, I still need direction and insight. This week, while I was out on a trail ride on my own, something felt horribly off. I just couldn’t get comfortable, and I couldn’t pinpoint what was different or wrong.

Fortunately, I had a lesson scheduled the next day. I mentioned the feeling, describing how I felt like I’d struggled to find my “seat” in the saddle throughout my earlier ride. 

Long equine story short, it turned out the problem was not my seat at all. It was my stirrups. Trying to give myself some extra leverage, I had them set too high. As a result, the extra pressure I was putting on them was causing me to bounce more in the saddle, resulting in my awful ride. 

In my mind, I had made a tiny tweak to improve efficiency and control. In reality, this move caused me to lose control, not to mention miss out on what should’ve been an enjoyable ride.

How many times had I done the exact same thing in business, reaching for a tool I didn’t need to solve a problem I made up in my mind? The business parallel impacted me so much that I made a point to share my stirrup story with my mentor and fellow equine enthusiast, Dr. Allan Hamilton

In response, he brought up the book, Last Word on Power, by Tracey Goss. Matter of factly, Dr. Hamilton stated, “Of course that was your experience. It is the tools we believe are our biggest assets that bring us down in the end.” 

During my ride, I’d had it in my mind that I needed my stirrups; they were an important tool, essential to the success of my ride. But in reality, I wasn’t able to find success (enjoying my ride) until I let go of my crutches entirely. The moment I took my feet out of the stirrups, there was an immediate improvement.

To help myself reset and readjust, the next day, I rode with no saddle, just a simple pad. I wanted to take the lesson to the extreme, to remove all the tools, and see what I learned. Without all the tools and crutches, I had a phenomenal ride. I was able to recenter myself and reclaim my true power. I rediscovered my center of balance. And it felt incredible. 

So, as the entire world slows down for a moment, and we allow the chaos to swirl around us as we all figure out what comes next, I invite you to figure out what comes next for you, too. Think about your own crutches. What have you been leaning on that has left you off-balance? What can you let go of that will help you return to a state of balance once again? 

We often have habits, routines, and tools that have become so deeply ingrained it is hard to imagine life without them. But are they actually helpful? Or are they just crutches, tools that no longer serve us the way they once did?

Now, while the world pauses, take some time to reset. Question your crutchees. Trust yourself and your ability, slide your feet out of those stirrups, find your true center of power, and enjoy the ride.


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