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"Don't Panic"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"ô

(c) 2002, A Few Good People, Inc.

We can learn a lot from horses; I sure did. Before my wife got me interested in them, I couldnít even spell hoarse (!); now I am learning from them while learning about them.

Todayís lesson was learned when Kelly, our mare, found her way into the breezeway of the barn. The breezeway is the area where we humans walk when we feed or visit the horses, and also serves as a storage area for horse-related supplies. It runs alongside the two stalls, which are on the left as you walk in. (We get into the stalls from the breezeway, the horses enter and exit through doorways on the opposite side.) The breezeway is full of horsey temptations and dangers, including bags of food, treats, and medications that, if ingested in large quantities could make them seriously ill: think of it as a candy store for horses. A very narrow candy store for horses.

Kelly got in there when I carelessly left a gate open that should have been closed. There she was, sniffing away and looking for goodies in a fairly confined space, considering she weighs in at about 1100 pounds.

Uh-oh! She canít be in there! She could get sick or hurt! What should I do?!? I remembered being told once that when a horse is in a dangerous situation, you must remain calm. After all, what do you think she would have done had I run in there yelling at her? She would have bolted, perhaps further into the breezeway, perhaps towards me trying to get out. Getting run over by an upset horse is not my idea of a good time. Who knows what she would have bumped into, broken, stepped on, or??? Causing her to panic could have easily caused 10 times more damage than I was trying to prevent.

So, I stopped to think. I made sure she had a clear route to where I wanted her to go. And then I walked in there and said in a firm, but quiet and somewhat disgusted voice, "Kelly! You know youíre not supposed to be in here!" She slowly looked up at me, turned around, and casually walked out with a look that said, "Gee, dad, youíre no fun!" She went where I wanted her to go, I closed the gate behind her, and that was that.

It occurred to me that this was a great lesson for our businesses. Things happen all the time that could have very bad consequences for us. New competition, new laws that adversely affect us, loss of an important client, significant world events such as September 11Ö the list goes on and on. How do we react? If we react emotionally, we could make the problem worse.

Your gut reaction may be to yell at an important customer thatís giving you a hard time. Stop. Call them back later.

Cash flow not what you need it to be? Donít panic. Think it through.

Does your local government suddenly want to slap license fees on home businesses? Be calm. Discuss it with one of your peers.

My point is this: if a horse gets into the breezeway of your business, remain calm and carefully consider your options before reacting. The business you save may be your own.

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© Copyright 2003, A Few Good People, Inc.
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