Riding the “You” Horse

One of the most lucrative and fulfilling accomplishments one can make in his or her lifetime is mastering how to ride the “you” horse. So here is how it goes. I was born riding the “Mel” horse. From an infant to a senior citizen, I will live my entire life riding the “Mel” horse. I can get better at it, get worse at it, fall off and get back on… but I cannot change horses. This is my horse my entire time here on this earth. Everywhere I go and everything I do is uniquely packaged as me. As I learn, grow and mature, I am mastering how to ride the “Mel” horse. The same is true for you. Your trajectory of effectiveness as a spouse, parent, leader, follower, philanthropist, servant, friend, co-worker, etc. is directly tied to your ability to ride the “you” horse. We are unique persons, with unique, one-of-a-kind gifts and challenges, and learning to master riding our unique self is an amazingly opportunistic best practice.

Your trajectory of effectiveness as a spouse, parent, leader, follower, philanthropist, servant, friend, co-worker, etc. is directly tied to your ability to ride the “you” horse.

We can all agree that time on this earth is finite for each of us. We are given a set of gifts, talents and shortcomings. We are not born with an owner’s manual. Many times our gifts come with equally as powerful downfalls. Have you ever noticed that? What makes us great and unique will, many times, come with some warts too. How does one get the most of his or her gifts and talents whilst minimizing the negatives that come along with them? This is the epicenter of learning to ride the “you” horse.

From an infant to a senior citizen, I will live my entire life riding the “Mel” horse. I can get better at it, get worse at it, fall off and get back on… but I cannot change horses. This is my horse my entire time here on this earth.

As a top executive and/or senior leader of a great enterprise, we are atop an assembly of unique persons. Each and all of us are trying our best to get the most from ourselves, each other, and the company. In this great endeavor, it is very powerful to think in terms of each of us riding our own unique “me” horse. The very core of seeking best practice in business is first seeking best practice from oneself. How can I be the best “me” I can possibly be? How can my gifts and talents be so well led by myself that I can have the most fine tuned positive impact on my business whilst minimizing as much as possible the worst of myself? This is mastering riding the “you” horse! This is deep stuff. It is also exceedingly powerful.

Having been part of great teams led by amazing leaders, and having aspired to lead great teams myself, I can wholeheartedly recommend seeking best practice together in our companies. As an executive coach, by design and intent, I must challenge the top executive and his or her direct reports to commit to best practice. It has become a buzz word, but in essence best practice is simply removing the self-inflicted slope and difficulty of our hike together. We seek efficient and smart ways to do everything, because it removes the impedance and resistance to our efforts. We do not tackle ourselves at the goal-line.

So how does mastering the “you” horse impact best practice? It is literally the most powerful part of it. As executives working together on the leadership team, we want to lead, manage and hold our enterprise accountable in an efficient, awesome, and very effective way. Best practice starts within us as we learn to master ourselves and maximize our own effectiveness, and then it proliferates outward and can be shared with others.

How can I be the best “me” I can possibly be? How can my gifts and talents be so well led by myself that I can have the most fine tuned positive impact on my business whilst minimizing as much as possible the worst of myself? This is mastering riding the “you” horse!

A leadership team will consist of diverse talent and personality simply because the roles require different skills and gifts. A VP of Sales will have a different skill-set than a VP of Finance. Our General Counsel will have unique skills as compared to our VP of IT.  As a best practice we seek to assemble teams capable of unity and synergy, but we will start with diversity and learn to row together to do great things. As we all get to know each other, we begin to see the unique gifts each has. We can appreciate the positives and negatives of you being you, and me being me. How do we bring out the best in each other and minimize the warts? This is also a cornerstone of the “you’ horse. We have to respect in each other the unique skill, challenge and effort required for each of us to ride our own unique self. I have witnessed some of the most talented persons in the world up close and personal. I have seen the anxiety and ups and downs of what is required for these super talents to ride his or her “me” horse. Their power and effectiveness can be very dysfunctional if they are still immature at riding their “me” horse. They become immensely functional and effective as they master their “me” horse.

To whom much is given, much is expected. It is real. Imagine being Steve Jobs. One could judge him many ways. Without any judgement in this posting, I am simply suggesting that he had to ride the “Steve” horse. It was an awesome horse to bridle, control, master, and ride. When we look at each other in this manner, we can do so with respect, empathy, accountability, and understanding. People will fall off of their horse. They will make many mistakes. In a best practice model, though, we are coaching people to get the absolute most they can in life, not just work, from riding their respective “me” horses. Being your worst self is not an option in best practice.

As top executives we want to proliferate smart and efficient ways of succeeding together. We want to pick function over dysfunction. We want to spread planning and focus over panic and knee jerk. We want to be known market-wide as a great place, not only to work, but to grow and prosper as a human being. How is this possible? I suggest that taking a silly little analogy like mastering riding the “you” horse is a great place to start. By making best practice start with the acknowledgement of each person’s uniqueness, the recognition of the talent and the difficulty of mastering it, and then providing the team on which we can all do it together, you incubated best practice already. The team will come together and prosper.

In closing, none of my blog posts will hold up alone in a vacuum. We need to take them all at the appropriate time and in some sensible order. Obviously we have cornerstone best practices of respect, mastering riding the “you” horse, structure first – people second, right people in the right seat, eliminating problem worship, not negotiating with ourselves, etc. These are a crafted quilt of wisdom and best practice. It is tricky to know where to start, how to start, when to start, and how to do it all without blowing up the business. There is a reason we do not do surgery on ourselves. I get it. That is how and why an executive coach can be one of the most powerful decisions a good executive team can make.

By making best practice start with acknowledgement of each persons uniqueness, recognition of the talent and the difficulty of mastering it, and then providing a team on which we can all do it together, you incubated best practice already. The team will prosper.

Until next time, assess how well you have mastered riding your “you” horse. How can you be even better at it? If you polished up and mastered two or three things, what would they be? If you were watching yourself being yourself at work in a movie, what would you want to improve? How do you feel it would positively impact your team if you really became your very best self, ever? Here is to each of us becoming the master rider of our respective “me” horses! What if you could do this for everyone in your company!

Cheers!

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