A Doubting Faith: Calling My Horse (and Business) in from the Field

Calling My Horse in from the Field

I began taking horseback riding lessons when I was eight or nine years old. As my interest grew, I began participating in horse shows, riding one rental horse for one show, then another.  There was Grey Lady, a sweet small and homely looking horse, Princess, the palomino, Stormy, a bay all the children loved, and Freckles, a white horse with black specks on his face—high strung and responsive. It was enjoyable, but as I got older, I wanted the chance to work with the same horse, one that I’d trained.

And one day, I got that chance.

I was 12 when my parents gave me a half Hanoverian, half Thoroughbred filly named Beta. She was tall, 16. 1 hands high, and brown with black points, a bay. She had an almost perfect white diamond on her forehead.  She came with papers that showed her lineage—her sire and dam, their parents and birthdates. She had never been ridden, never had a saddle on her or a bit in her mouth. Thus, began a wonderful journey with a horse that was richly satisfying.

One day, I arrived at the stables ready for a lesson with my trainer who was teaching me how to train my horse. She was at the far end of the field grazing.

My trainer said “Call her.” “No,” I told him. “She won’t come.”

When I was 12, looking “cool” was important. I wanted to avoid anything I thought would make me look foolish or stupid.

“Call her,” he said. I remember feeling uncomfortable and thinking, “This won’t work.”  Less generously, I’m sure I thought he didn’t know what he was talking about. I shouted her name without much strength or conviction. “Beta…”

My horse lifted her head.

“Call her again,” he said.  I did.

Then, unbelievably, she turned toward me and headed to the barn. My horse was coming. My horse was coming to me! It was a magnificent moment. My soft spoken trainer teased me kindly about my doubt, then said nothing more about it.  He knew something about 12-year-old girls. He knew something too about horses. He knew how horses, treated kindly, want us too. It’s not just one creature exercising dominion over another.

Calling Business in from the Field

I’m an adult now and I realize that doubt is still part of my life. While it’s taken a subtler form, I realize I still want to look cool and avoid anything I think would make me look foolish or stupid.

As I was planning to reach out to five CEOs who are transforming the global landscape in developing countries, in spite of me having a clear, compelling business vision, in spite of personal introductions to each and connections already formed, in spite of knowing the value my business provides, I heard that 12-year-old’s voice doubting whether they too wanted to engage with me.

Now, I can smile first because I heard her—that 12 year old—but heard her through a wiser adult’s ears. My trainer today is life itself and the generous nature of people. Life wants me—us—too. It’s not just one entity exercising dominion over another.

Doubt is okay. So is wanting to look cool and avoid looking foolish. Just don’t let it stop you from calling your horse in from the field.Horse and a pigtailed Beth

Speaking to Women Leaders at the Embassy of the Netherlands

I admire Dutch women. They are self-assured, self-aware and direct. My appreciation began when I first met Bibi Schreuder in 1996. She introduced me to an innovative and evolving systems method that influences our Leadership Hand® executive coaching, consulting and organizational development engagements.

It was a delight to be invited by Joanneke Balfoort, Deputy Chief of Mission, Karen Burbach, Deputy Head, Political Department, and Julia Koppius, Senior Advisor and Congressional Liaison, Embassy of the Netherlands, to speak to the Embassy’s women leaders.

The Netherlands ranks #13 in the 2015 global rankings of the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report.  (The U.S. ranks #28.) The rankings indicate where countries are in closing the gender gap across for different sub indexes: Economic Participation and Opportunity; Educational Attainment; Health and Survival; and Political Empowerment.

RAalders-JBalfoort-Beth Hand Leadership Hand-JKoppius, Embassy of Netherlands -Small

From left to right: Regine Aalders, Counselor for Health, Welfare and Sports; Joanneke Balfoort, Deputy Chief of Mission; Beth Hand CEO Leadership Hand LLC; Julia Koppius, Senior Advisor and Congressional Liaison, Embassy of the Netherlands.

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