A few days ago, Forbes published “How to Compete and Win in Business – Lessons from the World’s Greatest Athlete.”
I had to check it out…not because I’m interested in competing and winning in business, but because I’m inspired most by those who have achieved something extraordinary.
And who better to inspire than Bryan Clay, who won Olympic gold in 2008 in the decathlon, achieving the title “The World’s Greatest Athlete?” If you are competing and you want greater success (even if your only competitor is yourself), here’s his advice (and mine):
1. “It’s all about the process.” According to the article in Forbes, Bryan Clay’s focus is not in being excellent; his focus is in striving. In other words, it’s not how well you do, it’s how hard you try to do well.
2. “Execute.” In other words, doing is more important than thinking about doing. Baba Ram Dass said, “Be Here Now.” Nike said, “Just do it.” Same idea. Anyone who’s ever overthought while horse training knows that feel is more important than whatever is going on in your mind. You just have to ride and be present in the moment.
3. You may expect to feel different after a big win, but don’t be surprised if you feel the same. That’s what happened to Bryan Clay after winning in Beijing. Winning won’t change your life. It won’t change who you are. And it won’t change your relationship with your horse (if it does, you have other problems). With that in mind, it’s important to understand why you want to compete, and make sure it’s not because you’ll feel better about yourself if you win…or even worse, feel worse about yourself if you don’t. Same goes for the way you feel about your horse when he wins or doesn’t.
4. Be ready to say you did it “not for money or fame, but for the pure joy of doing what I was created to do.” That’s the advice that Bryan Clay says he would give himself if he could go back in time.
It seems to me that this last piece of advice is the most significant. The brightest blue ribbons pale beside pure joy. Once we start setting competitive goals, it’s all too easy to forget why we wanted to ride in the first place, and sacrifice pleasure to progress.
We all want to be our best, whether we’re riding in our backyard or whether we want to test ourselves against a standard of excellence along with others. Regardless of how we compete — simply with ourselves or with ourselves and others — we can be inspired by Bryan Clay’s achievements, humility, wisdom and simple lessons for success.
I love this! I have a TB who I absolutely adore… but who is quite a challenge for me when it comes to situations out of the ordinary. ( http://mountainsidefarm.blogspot.com/ ) In the 2+ years I’ve had him, I can count on two hands the number of bad rides I’ve had on him, yet trying to compete and have him behave anywhere like he does at home is quite a challenge for me. I don’t know if he will ever adapt to have the mental relaxation needed for us to do well at competitions; after all, the first half of his life helped build more tension, rather than helping him relax!
I have always been very competitive and loved showing, so my mom asked me how I would feel if I can never have pleasant experiences at shows with my horse. I just looked at her and said, “I guess I would be disappointed… but I want to make it to Grand Prix with him even if we never show, and I want to make it there with other future horses, too. What he is teaching me and how he is helping me as a rider beats out any show, and won’t change the sheer joy of getting to work with him every day.”
I’ve never so enjoyed the process – and never so loved a horse. I actually feel the emotional aspects of frustration more deeply than I have with other horses, but instead of having negative feelings toward him, I see them as ways to search myself and find out what I can do to improve a situation, how I may have handled things wrong, how to increase my ability to ride him well and improve our partnership.
And then there’s #4. The more relaxed I get him, the more joy he gets to take in moving, and moving is what he was meant to do. I have never before ridden a horse where forward, loose, perhaps a little more energetic than necessary with a few little exuberant leaps thrown in, could bring such a smile to my face. I’m lucky to have my own place and a large (approximately 200’x170′) area to ride in where I can just let him pick his speed as a reward, and in return the way he moves when being asked for specific gaits/tempos/speeds/lengths of stride has improved. His last show I had my trainer ride, and my horse got a 7.5 on gaits. Previously, he was more of a 6. It turns out enjoying the process and what you were meant to do actually improves the performance in competition. Who knew?
Fabulous. It is true that the difficult horses have the most to teach us, and I think the ones we owe the most gratitude towards, even if at times they make us want to pull our hair out.
How great it is that you’re discovering methods to bring out the best in your horse, some of which are about doing less rather than more (interesting, that, isn’t it?).
I bet as you continue to expose him to new things, you’ll find that he adjusts to the atmosphere at shows. He just might need a special warm up to relax body and mind.
Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it will inspire, which is what today’s topic is all about.