Breaking Free

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Vol 8, Issue 7

Funny Lessons from the Rodeo

March 2014

Well, it’s rodeo time here in Houston and that’s a pretty big deal around here. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest volunteer organization in Houston. There are 108 committees and over 28,500 volunteers. There is over $2MM dollars in rodeo purse money and more than $23MM is raised for educational scholarships. Now, being born and raised in Pennsylvania and growing up in a small industrial town, I didn’t know much about rodeo and livestock… other than cow tipping – but that’s for another day. So, I have a lot to learn when it comes to all things rodeo and livestock. I have noticed, however, that quite a few of the events are great metaphors for leading and growing. Here’s what I learned this year…

Lesson #1: Bull Riding

Rodeo Bull fighter

If you’ve ever watched the bull riding competitions, you probably know that cowboys strap themselves to a bull and try to ride it for 8 seconds while the bull tries to buck them off. Does life or your job ever treat you like the bull rider? Do you ever feel like you’re on a ride of which you have very little control?

Our careers as well as our lives can sometimes feel that way. So what is the lesson?

It pays to have a few clowns run around to distract the bull when you get bucked off. They will allow you to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, learn, and perform better the next time.

Clowns and a sense of humor aren’t typically the first things you think about when life is throwing you around. It’s important to never lose your sense of humor! Find the fun, find the joy – it is there even in the rough times. Hang around a few clowns. I often find that to be helpful.

Lesson #2: Team Roping

Team calf roping

Team roping is an event where there are two “ropers”. One of the cowboys is in charge of roping the head of the calf and the other ropes the heals. At the start, a calf is released from a chute and given a head start. Then the cowboys come rushing out to try to catch it. Now remember, I didn’t grow up in Texas so I’m a little rusty on how to cheer for these events. In the team calf roping, I choose to cheer for the calf. Yes, you heard that correctly. I cheer for the baby cow. I mean, it’s 2 against 1 and I like rooting for the underdog. Sure, people in the stands give me awkward glances, but I’m sticking with it. I find happiness in watching the “header” miss the calf and I rejoice when the calf prances to freedom! Woop, woop. YAY BABY COW!!

So what’s the lesson in this? Well, you’d be surprised, with their big, fast horses, long ropes and hours and hours of practice, how many times the cowboysmiss the calf. I mean these cowboys are some of the best in the world as the Houston Rodeo has the 2nd highest purse in the US, yet the calves sometimes win!

When you feel like you are being chased or overwhelmed by everything that is coming at you, keep on keeping on. Continue to press forward or change directions. You never know when your “cowboys” are going to slip up. You never know when the ties (tides) will turn. You can win!

Lesson #3: Mutton Bustin’

One of my favorite events at the rodeo is Mutton Bustin’. This is where 5-6 year old boys and girls ride on the back of a sheep. It’s just like bronco or bull riding except the miniature version and the kids get to lay on the back of the sheep. Volunteers help the boy or girl get on the sheep, then the chute opens and away the sheep goes with the boy or girl trying their best to stay on and enjoy the ride.

In the video below you will meet one of the winners who are interviewed in front of 70,000 fans. The winners are usually asked how they were able to stay on for so long and if they practiced for the event. Below is one of my favorite answers…

Remember… Even when things get a little messy, there is probably a way to use it to your advantage.

It’s all a matter of perspective, ~Contact.FirstName~. How can you look at your current challenges and frustrations differently? How can you bring value to the situation? If the road of your life, relationships, business or career is a little bumpy right now, take a lesson or three from the rodeo:

  1. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
  2. If you get bucked off, run like the dickens until you find safety.
  3. If you notice that someone else has been bucked off, try being their rodeo clown.

I hope that this spring brings you a sense of renewal… that you will take some time to nurture yourself so that you can grow along with the trees and plants around you. As you grow, so will your opportunities and the world as a whole can’t help but be a better place because of you.

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