"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." – Andy Warhol
Change doesn't come easily in the art business or the horse business; everyone is a critic. In an industry built on tradition, ideas for doing things differently take much effort to put into practice.
One of the reasons professional horsemen are reluctant to make changes in their businesses is that some changes just "don't feel right." They are uncomfortable and go against the grain of what we have become accustomed to and are comfortable with doing.
For example, as a youth I learned to ride in a western saddle. Over time, the contact points of my body with the saddle became my points of reference for posture and balance. It all "felt right" every time I sat in the saddle.
Later, my first experiences riding in an English hunt seat saddle made feel awkward, out of balance and generally uncomfortable. My traditional frame of reference had been altered and I was in the "uncomfortable zone". With practice, I managed to regain my composure and balance and the new saddle started feeling better every time I rode in it.
I have not ridden in a western saddle in a number of years and I know with such a long time away from it, riding in a western saddle would not feel "right" the first time I sat in it.
My point is familiarity creates comfort and the natural human tendency is to be comfortable. Being comfortable means trading off potentially better results for the privilege of being comfortable.
In your horse business do you:
- Tolerate employees who don't have the skills to carry out the tasks required of them because they have been around a long time, are friendly with clients and have no other place to work?
- Resist delegating business tasks like, filing, scheduling or bookkeeping because you have become comfortable with the notion that these activities are your job?
- Avoid discussions with boarders about their horse's bad manners or their own unacceptable behavior at the farm?
Making a business decision to act on the types of things listed above is never easy. At first, moving from a comfort zone to potentially stressful situations might feel like you have put your boots on backwards just to make sure it will hurt.
But, you will soon find out that a better analogy is that changes in your business are more like sitting in a strange saddle for the first time. It feels uncomfortable, you're out of balance and have to question again why you are doing this.
Amazingly, in time, the deliberate business changes you make become as comfortable as your favorite saddle and will result in a much more comfortable ride.