Life Lessons From My Dad and “Kipper”

IMG_0781My dad was a cowboy from Idaho and a professional bull rider before my mom settled him down and I showed up on the scene. From the time I could walk I was my dad’s little shadow.  I don’t think Robin was more proud of Batman than I was to be my dad’s sidekick.

From the age of two, my dad put me on a horse and taught me to how to ride.  He trusted his horse Kipper with his little girl and she was probably as responsible for teaching me how to ride as my dad was.  In the bigger picture, they taught me more than just how to ride a horse, they taught me an invaluable life lesson — to get back on every time I fall.

To be clear, I have fallen off more horses in my lifetime than I could probably count.  But the story my dad enjoys telling the most was the first time I fell off Kipper.  I was probably not quite three years old when my dad tied Kipper to the fence inside the arena and let me sit on top of her to watch him work with a young colt.

At some point, the young colt got away from my dad and came racing, bucking and kicking right towards Kipper and me.  Kipper simply jumped to get out of the way of the crazy horse and I plopped to the dirt.  Kipper stayed and stood right over me as if to protect me until my dad could get there to see if I was okay.

Of course, once my dad got there I started to cry.  It did not take him long to see that I was not physically hurt, just mad.  So he suggested that I dust myself off and get back on Kipper.  IMG_0697In my mind, Kipper was the one that dumped me in the dirt so I adamantly pointed at the crazy colt and demanded that I get back on him instead.

My dad used his best reasoning skills and eventually convinced his stubborn little girl that getting back on Kipper was the wiser choice.

When we fall down, it’s important that we get up from wherever we are (wherever we got tossed on our head) and get back to work.  I am so grateful to my dad for teaching me this lesson because I have had many opportunities to dust the dirt off my face and get back on the horse so to speak.

But just like each of those experiences I gained far more falling and getting the dirt kicked up around my ears than success could have ever taught me.  I am a far better coach today than I was five years ago or even last year.

I thought I was a good leader before, now I know I am.  I know what it takes, I know the pitfalls before I step in them and I know how to lift those around me so we can all succeed together.

Today, I can say I am grateful for my experiences.  I am grateful for the growth and knowledge I gained and I look forward to more growth every day (that can be a scary thought).

Sailors require fierce winds to blow their ships, winds that can be terribly uncomfortable, but the harder they blow the more quickly destinations are reached.  I am grateful for the fierce winds and for the lessons learned and the places I am going.


“Our attitude toward failure and setbacks will determine our altitude after.”  John Maxwell.


Remember, when you fall down, the ONLY place to go is UP!


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