A little while ago, I posted on the Confident Rider Facebook page this quote:
Perfectionism gets in the way of success. Commit to daily, imperfect action rather than perfect inaction.
A few riders sent me messages discussing their concerns and challenges that they were facing, and a big one that stood out for me was the fear of ruining or somehow causing harm to their horse. This came up for a few different reasons specific to each individual but more than a handful of riders I spoke to felt stuck in one spot based on the mindset that potentially taking action in any direction could see them doing something wrong.
I get this, I really do. It really is a most lovely and compassionate thought- that somehow your skills won’t be up to scratch and your horse could suffer as a result- but the mere fact that you HAVE that thought tells me that you are exactly the sort of person who SHOULD be out there doing things with their horses. The kind of person who considers what it is they are doing and what the ramifications of their actions are. That said, staying in one spot is not going to help anyone (least of all you), so I’ve put together some quick and easy guidelines to success to get you out of that headspace and create some momentum to get you back to doing whatever it is you want to be doing with your horse!
Drum roll please…
1. A plan please! Learn, learn and learn some more.
You don’t have to be a hero, but you do have to be intelligent. If you are worried that your skill level is not up to speed find someone that you respect and talk through the challenges or training issues that you are currently facing. Put a strategy or a plan in place that provides you with really clear goal posts and markers that you can hit along the way, and then use the resources that you have at your disposal to understand what it is you are doing and how to continue forward.
The things is, when we are learning anything new, sometimes things get a little… messy. They can even feel like they are falling apart! This doesn’t mean, however, that they actually ARE falling apart, it’s just the nature of learning a new skill or leaping outside of your comfort zone. Be prepared for things to not look pretty at first… it will be worth your time in the end!
2. Re-evaluate what mistakes mean
The idea of “getting it wrong” or being afraid of “stuffing up your horse” is a huge, immobilising force and is a key ingredient in procrastination and the feeling of “stuck-ness”. Most learning happens from initiating a process– you can pre-plan as much as possible, but it’s only through experiencing both correct AND incorrect action that the real learning happens. If you can start to reframe the idea of mistakes and think of them as “solution finding” rather than “mistake doing”; often we only know what is right after we have experienced what is wrong. It’s really important that you put one foot in front of the other and start to initiate the kinds of processes that are moving you towards finding solutions.
3. Reflect and assess
If you remain conscious of the process and sensitive to what is working and what isn’t working, it’s unlikely you would let things develop to the point where they are unworkable or irreparable. Keep reminding yourself that learning is a really cyclic process; if in doubt, just go back to point number one!
Now go out there and take some action!