I grew up in Lola, a small rural farming community in Western Kentucky. The total length of Lola when it was a thriving little community was not hardly even a mile long in any direction. In the sphere of this small town, both of my Grandparents were entrepreneurs in their own businesses. On one side of town, on my Dad’s side of the family, my Grandfather owned & operated a Purina brand feed store. On the opposite side of town, on my Mom’s side of the family, my Grandfather owned & operated a Texaco service station. My Dad’s passion since he came into this world, did not revolve around either of these types of businesses, but rather in the ownership and training of Quarter Horses, especially in the emphasis of cutting routines with livestock.
My Dad always wanted me to share his passion. He tried diligently to get me interested in the horse business. Until I was 11 or 12 years old and able to work in the feed store and be responsible for myself, I went and participated in my share of quarter horse shows. In order to get me interested in the animals, my Dad put me on one as soon as possible. He would sit me up on one of the them and lead the horse around with me on board. We soon graduated to me riding the horse, while Dad rode his own horse and him leading mine with a lead rein, so my horse was attached to him and his horse. I must have been around 4 years old at this time as the memories of it are very vivid. The horse I would always be led on, and would later ride many times was named Joker.
Dad decided it would be a good idea to go for a ride on his horse with me in tow on Joker through Lola. Now, the name must have fit, because Joker must have thought it would be funny to jerk loose from Dad and take off with me on board like streaked lightening. He did just that, galloping what seemed like to me 100 miles per hour back up through town toward my Grandfather’s Texaco station. The distance from the town limit sign to the service station can’t be more than an eighth of a mile, but to me at 4 years old on top of this big animal running at full speed, it seemed like a long way. I just hung on to the saddle horn as tight as I could, staying focused to remain on board, while Joker was smoking up the street at a full run. In those days, service station owners pumped your gas and wiped the windows of your vehicle for you, and as I looked up the street, there was my Papaw pumping someone’s gas and he saw me and Joker coming his way. Prior to owning the gas station, my Papaw made his living as a Blacksmith, so he had seen horses behave all sorts of ways, he stepped out in the street, grabbed Joker’s rein and stopped us on a dime.
My family often joke with me about the incident, asking how far Joker might have run if he hadn’t been stopped? I’ll be straight with you, I was thankful the ride was over. I also don’t ever remember being scared before, during or after the crazy ride, I just remember being focused on staying with the ride as it happened.
Momentum can be scary. What if this thing really takes off? What if this idea gets bigger or goes faster than we are prepared for it to go? You have to hang on, stay focused and enjoy the ride.
Momentum can start suddenly. Things can change direction before you are ready in the blink of an eye. If I would have been able to reach Joker’s rein, I would have instinctively tried to pull back and stop it. Our instincts sometimes betray us in that when we experience momentum in a positive direction we should push it forward, not try to pull it backward.
Momentum needs focus. You have to stay with it. The ride may be smooth and it may be bumpy, but I had to keep my concentration, focus and most importantly, I had to hang on! Sometimes, you just need to hang on.
Momentum does end. My Papaw brought Joker’s momentum to an end by stopping it, but Joker would have eventually stopped somewhere. Whether it’s positive or negative momentum, it does wind down at some point, so you have to be prepared. If you are experiencing negative momentum, you can be assured it will come to an end some time. If it is a positive growth spurt, it will also end and you will need to get it started again. It is easy to push a rolling rock and it is to get one rolling.
Momentum can make you a star. How much attention do you think I got from everyone after this ride? Are you kidding me! Everyone was bragging about how I stayed on this horse during his crazy gallop. Was I good? No way. Was I ready? No way. Did I want to do it again soon? No way. Momentum can make you look better than you are. If you are a leader, you really need to know the difference between what you are capable of and what momentum is doing for you. Ride it, enjoy it but don’t take credit for all of it.
Joker did the work, not me.