Yet another frustrating meeting! The days seem full of them. Lucy feels she has had enough, she is about to burst. People sit around and discus and discus but nothing ever seems to happen. “One more meeting like this and I will explode for sure” she thinks. She walks out to her team and goes around like a whirlwind, barking orders at people who are left gasping in her wake. Where did that come from? Where is the normal mild mannered easy going Lucy we all know and love?
“Oh well”. Lucy thinks, “at least tomorrow won’t be another round of useless meetings, I wonder what is in store for us at the new Leadership development day.”
Hunter dozes in the cool of the evening. It is nice to get a respite from the day’s heat and flies. Young Kahn stands next to him, content to just relax knowing Ostara won’t worry him whilst he is in Hunters orbit.
“Morning Gemma, Morning Brendon, Morning everyone. What a fabulous looking day, I’m glad we are going to be outside and not stuck in the office” Lucy smiles at the bus full of people and is relieved to see the answering smiles. She is never quite sure if she is being over the top with her cheerfulness. It bubbles up naturally, but she fears it may be too much and people will think she is insincere. She sits down next to Gary, the newest member of the team. She wants to make him feel welcome and included in the group so she starts asking him about what his plans are for the weekend, trying to draw out what interests him so she can store it away for future conversations. It’s always good to know what you can talk about to put people at ease.
As they turned into the driveway of the farm and she saw the mares and foals take off, Lucy started to feel a warm glow of real pleasure. Here was something she knew about. That would make her an expert in this crowd. It had been a few years since she had last competed, not since she had to leave home and move to the city, leaving her show ponies behind, but she had been a regular on the circle of Agricultural Shows in her district.
She didn’t like to big note herself though, so when Jason called out “Hey, Lucy, this should be right up your alley. Didn’t you used to be some sort of super horsewoman?”
She replies “Oh, I wasn’t that good. I did a bit but all the kids in my district did and there were a lot who were much better than me”. She knew she was good and her knowledge was great but she always harboured that small fear that she would be shown up as not knowing quite as much as she thought she did. It was always a better policy to just go about gathering a bit more knowledge and expertise and not make a fuss about it. Just be content to be proved right about things, even if you hadn’t voiced them.
Luckily people weren’t always aware how much Lucy was judging them against her own store of knowledge because what they saw was conscientious, smiling Lucy, always willing to lend a hand. Internally she was quite competitive, but she didn’t like to show it. People might resent her if she won an argument or ridicule her if she didn’t.
Hunter ambled over with Anna for the halter tying lesson. How many time had he been through this?
At 26 after a short but successful racing career he had for a time been Anna’s main riding horse till his racing days caught up with him and he got a bit stiff in the legs. The heart of a racehorse still beat strongly inside him and as top horse on the farm he always had his eye on where the other horses were but he was gentle and used to being handled by many people and would drop his head readily for the halter lessons, looking for all the world like no thought of escape ever entered his head.
Lucy watched Brendon’s fumbling attempts with the halter and smiled inside. No danger of being shown up there! She could see Gemma’s tentativeness and how Hunter subtly kept moving her around, almost like he was playing a game. Gary made a good fist off it. He watched Anna closely and the mistakes the others made. He was a bit unsure but he got the job done the quickest yet. Jason on the other hand was hopeless! He marched up to Hunter like he had it all under control, turned his great cheesy grin to them, his body language saying “Here guys, this is how it is done” and was almost knocked off his feet as Hunter chose that moment to using him as a rubbing post. After that his confidence seemed to drain out of him as if he realised maybe he wasn’t so smart as he thought he was.
“See”, thought Lucy,” that what showing off gets you, better to undersell than over sell”. She watched the rest of the group and all she could see was what they were doing wrong, and how she would have done it much better. When it was her turn, she approached Hunter gently and politely and waited till he acknowledged her then quickly slipped on the halter and expertly did it up. “You have done this before, haven’t you” Anna said, smiling. “A bit” says Lucy, she certainly doesn’t want Anna to think she is a know it all, yet inside she was gleeful at how she had shown she still had it.
Watching the interactions, Lex decided she would leave Lucy to the very last for her one on one session with one of the horses. She thought about bringing Ostara back for Lucy’s session as she was usually only used with people who already had some horse sense and skill, but decided instead to let Hunter be her partner.
Lucy was getting more and more frustrated as the day went on. “What’s wrong with these people she thought? These are simple tasks yet they are letting the horses walk all over them, they aren’t showing any leadership at all. No wonder we are having a few difficulties meeting targets at the moment, they have no direction and no one is taking control of their horse. How can they expect to achieve anything?
She stopped listening to the debriefs and missed the learning’s that people were gaining from their experiences. All she could think about now was when it was her turn she was going to show them how to get things done. She couldn’t understand why Anna and Lex just let people flounder along without correction. She drew inside herself the way she did at meetings, not joining in the discussion, but instead working out her own plan of attack in her head. Brendon noticed her silence and retreat and thought, “Uh oh, we have lost Lucy again. I don’t know where she drifts off to but she had clearly lost interest as usual. No wonder she never gets anything done, too busy being everyone’s friend and then when it comes to sorting out future action she just clams up and loses interest”.
Lex can almost feel the frustration bursting out of Lucy, but it is finally her turn. Anna brings Hunter over and hands the rope to Lucy. Hunter had been having a nice little nap, leg cocked after his session with Gary, in which he had happily tucked in behind Gary and followed him around, much to Gary’s delight. As Lucy took the rope a shiver ran through his body and he lifted his head and looked at her. “Lucy, your task is to get Hunter to walk round for three laps in a circle” instructs Anna.
“Ooh lunging”, Lucy blurts out, “no worries, come on Hunter lets go.’ Hunter skitters a little sideways and surges forward as they walk to the middle. She corrects him smartly with a jerk of the rope and he drops back with a toss of his head. Once positioned she asks him to walk on with her voice as she has always done and he leaps forward spinning round her in a huge trot. After about 5 circles he drops back to a walk and she lets him continue for three rounds before bringing him to a halt. She turns to Anna and Lex, waiting for them to give her the gold star. Instead Anna’s says. “Thank you Lucy but now can you get him to just walk for three circles, no trot, just three circles of walk. Lucy is mortified. She had made a mistake in interpreting the instructions and thus shown herself up, now she would lose all credibility. “Walk on” she says and again Hunter leaps forward into trot but at least this time he comes back to walk more quickly as Lucy’s shoulders sag as she is aware she got it wrong again. “Let’s stop for a moment Lucy”, Anna says. Tell me what was in your mind as you went out there?” That I was going to do it right!” says Lucy. “And why is it important to do it right?” “Because I had to show …… umm” Lucy was having trouble saying what was in her head in front of her colleagues. How could she say outright she was so frustrated as they were showing such incompetence that it must have been upsetting the horses so no wonder, with the exception of Gary, it took them all so long to achieve their tasks with any semblance of skill.
“Follow me and bring Hunter with you”. Lucy leads a now quiet Hunter after Anna until they are out of earshot of the group. “Now tell Hunter what was going through your head and whilst you do, just lay your hand on his neck”. Lucy feels the warm hide under her hand and the slight shivers going through him as a fly lands and he swishes it away with his tail. He curls his neck to look at her better. She sighs and as she tries to speak the tears just well up and for a few moments she just sobs.
She gradually regains her composure and says “Hunter I was so frustrated watching everyone with you and your herd mates. You were so patient – most of the time – but they just weren’t getting it. I knew what they should be doing so I wanted to show them, but then when it was my turn I was just as incompetent as everyone else and now the one thing I thought I could really do better than anyone else, I can’t. I feel useless”.
Her tears start to stream again. “Lucy are you and your work mates here to today to learn how to be horse trainers?” “No, I guess not – just as well” Lucy smiles through her sniffling. “So why are you all here?” “To learn more about ourselves as leaders and how we show up to other people and ourselves – well at least I was listening when Lex said that at the beginning of the day!” So where else do you see what happened with you today happening? “Oh all the time. I get so frustrated in meetings, they go on and on and people just don’t get it. I want so much to put them straight, but I know they won’t listen to me so I just keep quiet, but I feel like I want to explode and then I finally pluck up courage and barge in with a comment and they all…………– oh!
Oh I get it. I let it all bottle up inside of me. I am so scared of being seen to make a mistake I just let things go past when I could make a difference by contributing earlier. Then I come on far too strong and it shocks them, it is so out of the character they know..”
“So have you learnt something about yourself today?”
“Yes, yes, thank you Hunter, thank you Anna”.
“So did you get the exercise wrong?”
Lucy giggles, her normal disposition restored. “No, I got it dam well right with spades” she says.
So do you want another go at the circles, just for fun?”
“Yes, why not”
“Come on Hunter old buddy, lets really show them how it’s done’ As she smiles and lifts the lead rope Hunter steps out into a calm walk, happy that the crackling energy that was pouring down the rope at him has long gone. As he reaches the last part of his last circle, he feels it as Lucy drops her energy even lower and he slows to halt.
“Now, are you ready to share what you have learnt with the group?”
“Yes, yes I can because I am calm and I can see the bigger picture, not hung up on one thing, being right!”
On the bus on the way back Brendon ponders on what Lucy has told them. Who would have known that there was all that arrogance sitting inside her, he thought. When I thought she was losing interest she was really judging us. Our sweet, happy Lucy, every ones friend, always ready to help – but judging us! It’s something she is going to have to learn to deal with, but for my part, if I see her drift off like that again in a meeting I will know she is probably brimming with ideas and I must make a point of getting her to voice them, not bottle them up inside where they are no use to anyone. Who knows what her keen insight may reveal that we have missed with all our chatter.
Hunter shares the last of his evening meal with Kahn. The herd is calm and he is aware of where everyone is on the place, even the mares and foals over the other side of the house. He lifts his head briefly as a foal calls out to its dam and then relaxes when he hears her gently nickering answer. His world is at peace and he rests content.