Lesson 69 from my soon to be published book HorseTalk: Lessons in Leadership uses horses in a metaphor for  human interviews in the world outside of “the pasture”.  Available soon on Amazon, come celebrate at the March 15 horse-themed party for a book!

  1. Every individual has a purpose and a role

The Story

Grey Lady is great in the Round Pen. Fionn can’t be used in the Round Pen, and Sunny isn’t very responsive in it. Fionn is tons of fun in the Obstacle Course. When he gets tired of the humans struggling with getting him through the course, he just takes himself through it. If Richard (Richard is a horse) is in the pasture with him, Richard follows Fionn through the course. Penny works well for Billiards, but does not work so well in the Round Pen.

Each of these horses has a role in the day of HorseTalk. But the roles are not interchangeable. One of my tasks is to correctly identify which horse is best suited for which role. With horses and humans it is always about the fit. It is not whether one horse or one applicant is good. It is about how well they fit into a role or into an organization.

HorseTalk Insights

You have probably watched a Budweiser commercial showcasing their famous Clydesdale horses. The commercial titled Puppy Love is my favorite and Brotherhood is a close second. Now picture tiny mini-horses pulling the Budweiser wagon instead of 2500 pound draft horses. The wagon wouldn’t go very far.

In the Puppy Love commercial a Clydesdale jumps a pasture fence in order to get to his beloved puppy. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is for a draft horse to jump. Nothing about them is designed for 4 feet to leave the ground at the same time. The Warm Bloods and what are referred to as the Light Breeds are your agile jumpers.

Each horse breed has been bred for a different reason: some to be fast, some to pull heavy, some to be good with children, and others to leave the ground and appear to fly through the air.

Life and Business Lessons

I have worked with young people interviewing for the college of their dreams, the grad school of their choice, and seasoned veterans reaching for that life-changing promotion. Candidates at every stage of their career often get it wrong.

They think interviewers are looking for the “best” candidate when actually interviewers are looking for the best “fit”. Searching for the “best” candidate is like searching for a unicorn. It really doesn’t exist. Interviewers and companies are looking for the best fit.

To some, a salesperson with less experience – less bad habits – is a better fit. To others the star salesperson with a book of business is their goal. To one patient a young doctor schooled in newer methods is the best fit and to another patient “Dr. Marcus Welby” is the best fit.

Your Call to Action

Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman wanted to be a quarterback in the NFL. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots saw his role as wide receiver, a role he has filled for 11 seasons. He was Super Bowl MVP LIII.

Whatever your position and wherever you are presently on the organizational chart, your task is to correctly identify the best and highest use of team members. First push yourself to think differently about a person and the established job description. Then push others to look in their honest mirror and evaluate their strengths and the role that would best showcase their skills.

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