Horses Sense

How does a 120-pound girl train a 1000-pound animal? One step at a time, of course. Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a young lady who raised and trained her own riding horses. When she first told me about this I asked, “Aren’t you afraid of getting thrown?”. She just laughed and told me she had a better way to “break” a horse.

Looking back on that now, it’s easy to see how that seemed like an overwhelming task. Cowboy movies always show some poor fellow being thrown to the ground over and over until the animal finally bends to his will. But it seems, with a little planning, and a process there is a better way. But isn’t that usually the case?

We all have areas in our life where we’d like to make a big change. Whether it’s in our physical or mental health, finances, or relationships, there is something that we’d like to change, but the task seems too large to conquer, and we just lack the willpower.

Perhaps, though, we’re just using the wrong tool. Willpower is the ability to do something we don’t “want” to do. And we know we want to make a change; a permanent change to our behavior. This is done through small steps, taken every day, until the “change” has become the new normal.

In Brian Tracy’s The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success, Brian gives the following as the seventh, and final, step for achieving any goal: “Step seven: Do something every day, no matter how small, that moves you toward your goal.” Sure, the other steps include making goals, breaking goals into bite-size tasks, and having a schedule. But why is it so important to accomplish something every day?

In The Harvard Business Review’s May 2011 article The Power of Small Wins, the authors, Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer studied the dairies of knowledge workers to see what motivated them the most. Through this research, they discovered what they called “the progress principle”; which states “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

It is in our small wins that we:

  • grow our self-discipline
  • find our motivation to take the next step
  • establish our mindset for success.

Well, what about the young lady? Her process was to work with the horse every day. She placed a potato sack on its back and gradually increased its weight over a period of weeks until it was accustomed to having the weight of a saddle and rider. Then she could climb on and continue training it to reign. You may ask, “What did the horse think about all this?” Well, it showed up at the corral every day at the same time for their sessions. ‘Horse sense’ means common sense. Maybe horses know what’s best for them. I just know that self-discipline is contagious.

As some of my readers already know, I was so impressed by this young lady, that I married her.

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step…everyday…no matter how small.

Improving Every Day

A favorite adage that project managers love to quote is, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t track’. Meaning, of course, if you don’t really know what you did yesterday, how can you improve upon it tomorrow?

First, what do you need to manage? Well, that’s different for everyone. But the focus of this post is our daily habits. We’ve all developed behaviors that don’t’ serve us well. Without conscious effort, we repeat a certain behavior often enough to become a habit. Or, as psychologist Donald Hebb put it , “neurons that fire together wire together”.  And before you know it, you’re going through a sequence of actions without even thinking about what you’re doing. Until you realize that you’ve done it once again.

This blog often contains thoughts about ways to improve some aspect of living. Often, the posts focus on changing behavior. Stanford behavioral scientist B J Fogg wrote that there are 15 ways to change behavior. And of those 15, two are the most effective; change your environment and change your habits. He further notes that changing your behavior will have the most effective, long term, impact. Fogg formulated the B=MAP behavior model, in which Behavior is a function of Motivation, Ability, and Prompt (or trigger). This post provides a simple tool to increase the readers ability to modify their behavior.

Using a daily journal, like the one provided at, will bring full focus to any behavior. A journal reminds us to review our actions and take new ones. All we have to do, is remember to make our timely entries. That’s now easier than ever when using calendar reminders on your computer and/or cell phone. If you’re interested in changing your early morning habits, add a calendar reminder  to journal when you first rise. If you’re seeking to change you meal-time habits, make a reminder to  journal at each meal. If you’re struggling with maintaining a household budget, journal ever morning to stay focused on your goals. Within a few days, you’ll  probably find that your remembering to journal without the prompts.

Journaling also provides an additional benefit. While it helps to establish a new habit, it also makes you reflect on how well it’s working and consider what changes could serve you better. In psychologists Daniel Goleman’s book, Focus, he downplays the common statement that ‘10,000 hours of practice makes anyone a master of their craft’. He notes that repetitiously practicing a bad golf swing won’t improve it. Improvement comes by making small changes as you practice. Journaling makes us stop and think about our, sometimes subconscious, actions.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…