Yesterday I buried my best friend. At 30 years old, Dixie was old for a horse, especially an ex-racehorse and retired eventer. We were together for 26 years. She shaped both my professional and personal success and was the most influential creature in my life. Every decision I made involved her. I moved my home to be closer to her barn, I switched jobs to have more time with her (several times), I worked three jobs to be able to afford her, I made life-long friends at her stable, I changed my workouts so I could ride her better. I even married her horseshoer and we bought a farm so she could live with us.
She brought the most incredible people into my life and introduced me to a world I never knew existed – an assortment of professionals ranging from veterinarians to holistic practitioners, nutritionists, trainers, saddle fitters, bit experts, and a variety of alternative therapies. She was a hot, opinionated and fairly anxious horse who put me on the ground many times as I navigated the laws of gravity and faced my own fears. Her legacy is deep and her impact will be with me the rest of my life.
As I look back on our time together, I see the following five keys to her legacy and ability to make a lasting impact. Business professionals and leaders around the world would be wise to follow her teachings.
- Depth of connections – Creating deep trusted relationships is critical to success and joy in life. Dixie had an ability to quickly form relationships and her connections were astounding. At shows, she would “meet” other horses in the warm-up area and get so attached that when it was time to compete, she would whinny and scream for her new friends. In the pasture, she had several best friends and they would graze nose-to-nose. She was a loyal friend.
- Passion – Dixie never did anything half-way. She was either all-in or out. As an ex-racehorse, she loved to run and always offered a higher gear. On the cross-country course, I’d use her “turbo” gear to make up time. No matter how tired she was, she always found more speed.
- Perseverance – Dixie was a spooky horse and initially scared of water, mud, painted fences, farm animals (I almost lost my life over a cow and some piglets), and random other things. We worked diligently on overcoming these fears. One day we chased a sandwich bag around the arena to conquer a fear of plastic bags. We were determined that fear would not hold us back.
- Desire to be the best – Dixie always wanted to win. A fierce competitor, she would march off the trailer with her head held high. She seemed to grow taller and walked with a swagger reserved for shows, her neck arched, her step confident. Here’s the truth: she wasn’t really that physically talented. We had to work hard to get the dressage in order and in the beginning she’d lurch over fences. We practiced for many hours each week for years and beat many naturally talented horses because of our precision, accuracy and desire to be our best.
- Never give up – Dixie was one of the toughest horses I’ve ever known. She never complained. Even in the final days of her life riddled with arthritis, she stumbled out to the field with as much vigor she could muster. Her heart transcended her physical body. She wanted to live forever.
Most of all, she taught me to trust. To follow my instincts and to go after whatever I want in life with passion and drive. What is shaping your legacy? What is your impact? If you’d like to strengthen your impact and get the results you desire, give me a call for a complimentary consultation. Let me know that Dixie sent you.
Shari J. Goodwin is a business strategist, leadership coach, author, speaker, and life-long horsewoman. She helps leaders and entrepreneurs navigate with confidence, build trust and achieve the impact and results they desire. She can be reached at www.jaeger2.com