September 27, 2019

Lessons In Business, from The Horse Whisperer

I stood, bewildered, as others rushed determinedly around me, towards the one exit-ramp.
My too-large purple suitcase, the handle bedecked with pink ribbon. Essential when flying, of course.
My crammed, heavy briefcase.

Standing on the ridiculously tiny, nondescript platform. Empty in seconds.
Standing there, staring at the sign which declared an iconic name I’d known most of my life.
Staring at a town name, known by so many of the rich and famous…
…yet deemed unimportant enough to warrant a train running directly from London.
Staring at the car park so dinky and unplanned, you’d struggle to make a 7-point turn.

Alone in that Autumn night.
Waiting for a taxi.
I felt utterly unimportant.
Strangely lonely, and far from home.


The next morning I strutted determinedly, eager to accomplish my two mile walk before breakfast.

And I was reminded again how beautiful a September morning can be.
Particularly here, as I found myself on ‘Millionaire’s Row’.
This long avenue, where every house, it seems, is designed around a stable.

Here, along the stretch of pavements, running from the small town-centre roundabout.
A long, long stretch of pavements, designed specifically to accommodate horses… and the occasional human.

And you definitely don’t stray on to their mile long stretch of pavement!
Like a good human, you keep to the part designed just for you.
That pavement is known as ‘The Yellow Brick Road’

My mouth must have been wide open in wonder, as I strolled bravely at 6:30 am.
Because I struggled to take in the majesty of the string after string of racehorses trotting and strolling past me.
And my awed face attracted grins and chuckles from many of the humans, astride their steeds.

Highly-strung, stunningly and lovingly groomed and ridden, these creatures.
Each beautiful animal obviously treated as if they were prized beyond all riches.
Cared for. Loved. Important.
Pampered. Nurtured. Nursed towards Excellence.
Ultimately… worth a fortune to someone.

The whole of Newmarket depends for its very existence on these deceptively elegant creatures.
Their racing each other has to be ‘The Sport of Kings’.
Because, for centuries, only kings – and those who consider themselves to be so – could afford it.

This tiny, seemingly unimportant jot on the map…
It leads the world in its business!

I thought of these noble, very individual, characters, as I stood to lead the afternoon’s workshop.
A room full of bright, caring, intelligent folk.
Astonishing, complex humans.
Humans with awe-inspiring ideas and strong opinions.

Some of them became engaged quickly in the discussion about ‘Creating A Transformational Culture In Our Business’

Others… switched off almost immediately.
Disengaged. Seemingly uncaring.
A sense of hopelessness in their slumped bodies and glazed eyes.

Years ago, my fragile ego might have been bruised by their behaviour.
But I’ve seen this so many times now.
Extraordinarily capable, highly skilled individuals…
Otherwise masterful minds and soaring spirits…
who look so disempowered, when we start talking about improving the performance of their firm.

And I wonder what is happening back in their office.
Why they feel that they have no influence whatsoever on their own working future.
What kind of leadership creates teams of people like that?

So, I encourage them to speak.
To voice an opinion.

And I discover something wonderful.
Just like George VI (‘Bertie’) in the film ‘The King’s Speech’…

They have a voice!
They really do.

But somewhere in their journey of life…
Somewhere in the midst of blind, distracted, goal-focused, driving leadership…

They found that they didn’t.

In any organisation, these wonderful people could bring riches of Passion, Creativity, Intellect, Caring.
Their input, their minds, their spirits are worth a fortune to firms large and small.

If you’re leading anything…
Any team…
Remember Newmarket.

Don’t just ride people’s muscle and energy and time… to complete tasks and projects for you.
Rather, harness the creative minds… the hearts… the souls of these beautiful people.
Do this, by giving them A Voice.
LISTEN to their brilliance.

Do this… and you’ll create a future together that you can hardly imagine!

Those whom you might deem Followers… Less Important than you, the Decision Maker…
Could help you ‘Lead The World’ in your arena of work.
Could help you win the race towards Excellence.

If only you’d let them.