My father loved riding horses. He raised countless horses throughout my childhood. He was hired to break dozens of horses – maybe more – throughout his life. To my knowledge he broke every single horse to ride. Except one. Galahad. Galahad was a huge animal. He was feisty and mean. He kicked and bit and didn’t like anyone, or any other horse. My father worked with him for weeks. Every day after work and on the weekends, Dad would go out to the corral and work with Galahad. It took forever to halter train him. He would whip around and try and bite Dad every chance he got. He succeeded several times and the huge bruises from the horse-bite would last for a week.
Dad persevered and got the halter on, then a bridle, and finally started working on getting a saddle on Galahad. If we thought this horse was upset before we hadn’t seen anything yet. Galahad was pissed! He would buck and kick and stomp to try and get the saddle off. Then the delicate dance Dad had to go through to remove the saddle was always good entertainment for us kids.
Now when I say this horse was mean tempered, let me give you one short story to illustrate it. Galahad was in the corral with another horse. This angered Galahad. He started to kick and bite and push the other horse so aggressively, the other horse was knocked down and instead of getting up, the horse scooted itself on its side under the bottom rail of the corral just to get away from this jerk horse. And Dad was planning on riding this thing!
Dad got the saddle on Galahad a few times. Eventually he kicked and bucked a little less than at first. So, Dad thought he would jump on and see what happened. He climbed on the big horse. Me and my siblings were front-row spectators to a fantastic bucking horse show! Galahad leapt in the air, bucked, twisted, tried to bite my father’s leg – anything to get Dad off of him. And he succeeded in this too. Dad went flying off and landed hard. He jumped up and got on the other side of the fence before Galahad could turn and try and stomp on him.
Then Dad did something amazing: he got back on. And subsequently thrown off. And back on. And thrown off. Over and over. Each time Dad would land in the dirt with a thud, he’d pop up, get out of the way, and go back at it. Night after night he went through this. Climb on. Get bucked off. Climb on. Get bucked off. If I say he was bucked off that horse 100 times, I don’t think I am exaggerating at all.
Eventually, my father resigned to the fact that Galahad wouldn’t be broken, and he was sent back to his owner. What a tragedy, right? I don’t know about that. I do know every time Dad had a difficult horse to break after that, he would make some mention of “well at least it’s not Galahad”. And he would go about his business and come out victorious. I think he was better at what he did because he lost that one battle. It gave him perspective. He had to find a way to persevere.
The same is true in business. Sometimes we get bucked off. Sometimes we have something trying to stomp on us when we land. They bite and kick and throw a fit. What are we going to do next is the real question. How are we going to improve? How are we going to adjust?