I had ridden Rhythm, a 14 year old majestic Morgan horse, a few times before this recent visit to the barn. Though today was going to be different. I was on my own. For the first time, my riding instructor was not by my side. I was confident. As I lead Rhythm from the barn and to the riding arena I believed Rhythm and I were in sync. It was going to be a great ride.
As I entered the ring, I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the only noise was of the wind rustling the colorful Fall leaves. I prepared to step into the stirrups and sit in the saddle. I took one more look around. I was truly on my own. Thoughts flashed through my head. Is it smart to be riding alone? Can I really handle this horse? I mounted the saddle and settled in. Now, I was nervous. As I moved the reins into position, I thought this may not be such a great idea. Just one guy sitting on top of a thousand pound horse ready to run! I felt a bead of perspiration role down my brow. My hands shook. As I eased Rhythm into a walk, his head shot up with excitement. Was he nervous too? Clearly this wasn’t going to be a nice walk around the ring that I had envisioned.
Rhythm sensed I was nervous, and he became jittery too. We were heading towards the fence. I had to pull him into a quick turn to keep us from hitting the fence. I was breathing faster, and we tried again. I knew I needed to calm down, however I couldn’t summon the “calm” I needed. Once more Rhythm fought to run, then side to side he strained against my lead. Rhythm stopped and I dismounted. No way was this safe. Defeated I took Rhythm back to the barn.
During my drive home, I reflected on my failed ride. When I was calm, Rhythm was calm. When I got nervous, Rhythm got nervous. Clearly I needed to pull my nerves under control. Rhythm was sure that a nervous rider was on board. And following my lead like all great horses do, he became nervous and tense himself. As I turned into my garage, I realized this lesson in leadership applied to all that I do.
Just like our majestic horse, Rhythm, the great people I lead respond to my every emotion. A leader has to be cool under pressure, calm during a crises, and energized to succeed against all forces all the time. Your team will derive it’s strength from your demeanor, energy and enthusiasm for your strategic mission. You must control your nerves and emotions. If you portray panic and fear, then they will wither like their leader and spread the negativity throughout the team. So, to keep your team inspired and driving towards success, never let them see you sweat!
Tips for keeping calm in the storm:
- Daily am exercise! Sound body, sound mind.
- Leave your home life at home.
- Play your favorite “pump up” tune during the last 5 minutes of your commute.
- Before you walk in the office tell yourself, “It’s show time baby!”
- Greet everyone with a smile and a vibrant “Good morning!”
- While at work, find a quiet place to regain composure if the pressure is mounting and refer to #4.
Let me know how it goes.