Like millions of people, I watched the 138th Kentucky Derby that was being televised across the world. Unlike many of them however, I did so purely by accident! Just when I was ready to resort to a movie on demand, I caught a spectacular image of horses running wild being led by jockeys. Over the next two hours I was literally captivated by what I saw.
The Kentucky Derby is a historic race dating back into the late 1800’s filled with pageantry, pomp and circumstance. The blue bloods of the world seem to flock to Churchill Downs to hobnob and be seen. Kings, dignitaries and the likes have all been spotted there. Even hip-hop and rap artists seem to be intrigued by this illustrious gathering.
This time, the horse in the winner’s circle was I’ll Take Another — a little known horse with minimal credentials. What made this victory sweeter was the rookie jockey, Mario Gutierrez. What a storyline for those who feel they are the underdog. Now, I’m no betting man, but the odds were good and those willing to take that chance walked away fairly wealthy.
What I would like to do is share two things I noticed about the Kentucky Derby that may change your perspective on life and your business.
Get Into The Starter’s Gate
Jockeys say the most difficult part of any race is safely getting into the starter’s gate. I watched clips of guys getting their legs nearly torn off, thrown to the ground, trampled by their horses and so forth. However, each jockey had a different technique of getting their horse in place. The race cannot start until you are completely in position. There is massive amounts of training invested in just getting the horse and jockey in the starting gate safely and the horse has yet to run an inch yet.
The Lesson: No matter the outside distractions, there are times you have to push a little and even be uncomfortable. You have to put the time and training in before the starter’s pistol ever goes off if you expect to win.
Survive The Turns
The scariest part of the horse race is usually the first turn. Well, imagine a pack of beasts averaging about 1,000 to 1,300 LBS each barreling down on you and you probably weigh about 110 LBS max! Add to the plot the fact that horses scientifically have severe blind spots and have to adjust their whole heads, not just their eyes to see other objects. All these variables are going at one time can mean certain death! This is why each jockey holds their breath around the first turn. There are three things at work here:
1. Like humans, horses drift side to side as they run;
2. It is almost impossible not to shift vision to see what others are doing
3. Horses seem to love running in bunches.
The Lesson: If you can survive the turns (transitions and changes) life throws at you, you will be successful beyond your wildest dreams.
You and I have many things going on that we absolutely cannot control. However, the one thing we can always manage and govern is our own focus. Not our co-workers, family, or friends, JUST YOUR OWN FOCUS. What you lend your gaze to, you ultimately become. So guard yourself, make the turns and for God’s sake, get into the starters gate!