Best Feet Forward

When you want to leap forward, lean back. That doesn’t make sense unless you’re riding a horse. In the saddle your intuition says lean forward to spur the horse from a walk to a gallop. But leaning forward puts more weight on the horse’s front legs which are weaker. The horse struggles for a few steps to catch its balance and get its rhythm, literally starting off on the wrong foot. The rear haunches are the power pistons that launch you and the horse forward. Once you feel the rhythm of it, it is so natural, comfortable and enjoyable for you and the horse, it is obviously the right way to do it.

This rhythm of gathering and collecting before we leap is a powerful model for many things we do in life large and small. I find that when I am making an important phone call, I do better if I take a moment to rehearse the information I want to give or get. The names, times, and approach I will use. It only takes a few seconds, but seems to make the difference between stumbling into my message, or smoothly flowing into the direction I want the conversation to go.

There are a few geniuses who can spontaneously launch golden platitudes and witty retorts off the tops of their heads. But most of us, whether on stage at the podium, pulpit, or in conversation do better when we gather our wits and even rehearse what we plan to present.

The same holds true in athletics. My Friend Frank Santiago enjoyed one of the great moments of his life when his son hit a long shot at the buzzer to give his team the state championship in basketball. It was so smooth and easy that people told Frank, “The kid has a natural shot.” Frank told me, “I’ve tossed that ball back to him at least 10,000 times since he was a kid. That’s how you get a natural shot.” Gather then launch, horses, basketball stars, and us everyday folks.

In longer range projects the principle is the same. Get your resources together, then make your move. I was shooting a video production a few years ago. Lunch time came and I hustled across the street from the studio to a small, very small fast food place. I glanced at the menu and ordered the chicken. I didn’t realize how specific was the “the” in my order.

“I’m sorry sir, we already sold it,” the young man behind the counter said.

“It?” I asked.

“Every morning we buy a chicken for the menu, but somebody already ordered it,” he explained.

I didn’t want to run them short on anything else, so I went to a little bigger establishment. I submit that their operation was a little undercapitalized. They needed to collect a few more edibles before they opened for business.

Riding horses, making conversation, starting a business, launching your life’s direction; not a bad idea to gather your resources first, then rare back, then leap off your best foot.