Guidelines: Going Nowhere, One Step at a Time


By Simon Ambit

With visions of John Wayne heroically chasing down bad guys to save the day, Billy the Kid dangerously leaping from his horse to a speeding stagecoach and Roy Rogers galloping peacefully off into the sunset, my young son swung up into the saddle for a ride around the farm. I found that as he rode around on the horse, it was a bit difficult for him to get the horse to obey his commands.

As I watched the pair for a moment, the cause quickly became evident. Though my son placed all blame upon his trusty steed, in reality the fault lie with my young son. You see, in his excitement, he would kick the horse with his boot heels to signal the horse forward while at the same time he would pull his hands back and tug on the reins, pulling the horse to a halt. My son was frustrated with the horse, while the horse was completely confused as to what command to follow.

I explained to my little cowboy and showed him that what he was doing was like having the gas pedal mashed to the floor beneath the right foot while standing on the brake pedal with the left. We talked about how to prevent it from recurring and how to commit himself and his horse to either moving forward or stopping. After fixing their communication issue, the two made a much better team together and were able traverse a lot more ground.

I have thought about this experience and realize that I have often done the same things to myself as my son did to the horse. If you are like me, we tell ourselves we are going to move forward with a decision or venture, but hold ourselves back at the same time. Maybe we hold back due to fear or lack of faith. Maybe we stall because we’re not sure exactly how to proceed. Or maybe we don’t push forward because deep down we’re not yet fully committed. Whatever the reasoning, we find our desires and our actions contradicting one another, leading us to frustration, confusion and lack of progress. We cannot move forward by pulling back.

The quarterback can’t throw touchdowns sitting on the bench. A forward doesn’t score goals sitting in the penalty box. The cowboy won’t ride the next bull if he never nods for the gate to open. And the student who never takes the exam will never earn the degree. It is those times when we clearly define our goals, have an executable plan of action and move forward with an unrestrained determination to progress, when we get to ride tall in the stirrups of fulfillment.

“Life is like riding a horse. You’ve gotta learn how to take the reins, how to control your speed and occasionally you need to give it a sharp kick in the sides to remind it who’s boss.”  – Susan Gale

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