Thursday, February 28, 2013

Practice Makes Permanent

This week I had the pleasure of watching a "Cutting" demonstration. Cutting is a process of a cowboy working with a skilled horse to separate a single cow out of a herd. This traditional ranch job has turned into a big time sport.

The demonstration began with a cowboy working his horse with a flag attached to a small rope that spanned the arena. The rope was looped through a motorized wheel which the cowboy could control so the flag could move back and forth across the area. The horse is taught to stay parallel with the flag, so as the flag moves back and forth, the horse follows.

The cowboys work with the horses to teach them techniques which allow them to be nimble and able to pivot back and forth quickly in order to be able to react to a young calf that is anxiously trying to rejoin the herd. Training with the flag begins in January after their first birthday and they continue with this training until summer of their second birthday.

At this time, they begin working with real cows. The demonstration with the real cows was highlighted by one of the nations best cutting horses. This beautiful horse was so quick and nimble, being able to transition back and forth at lightning speed as she reacted to the erratic moves of the cow. At times the cutting back and forth was so quick and powerful that the belly of the horse nearly touched the ground as her legs exploded off the soil in order to rapidly adjust direction and maintain control of the cow.

In visiting with the training after the demonstration, I asked about the transition from the flag to the live cow. He replied that they never leave the flag in their training. In fact, after working with a herd, if there is a situation that the horse responds incorrectly to, they will go back to the flag and replicate that situation, training the correct response to the horse. And nearly always, once they get it right with the flag, the real life application will be performed correctly.

There is a great lesson for us in this. How many of us practice what we want to be good at or what we did wrong? Great athletes do this religiously, but what about every day life? Don't we want to be experts and excel in whatever it is we do? If I want to be a good parent, then I should train to be a good parent. I should read good books on being a good parent, then follow those techniques. But all along the way, if I do make a mistake, which I will, go back to the flag and fix it. Pull your child into your arms and tell them you love them, apologize for the wrong response then fix it.

If you are in sales and want to be the best, learn the skills and practice them. If you fail on an appointment, evaluate what went wrong and practice doing it right. Often you have heard the saying that Practice Makes Perfect. I disagree. Practice Makes Permanent. So if you want the right skill permanent , then practice it right and make it, Perfect Practice Makes Perfectly Permanent.

Strive to Live Higher and remember to keep going back to the flag to stay on top of your game of life.

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