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What to do when you feel defeated?
Tell yourself a different story with a better ending.
The horse was named Warcry, a beautiful Appaloosa we weren’t allowed to ride. Warycry belonged to my friend Jamey’s father. He was too big and strong for pre-pubescent-middle-schoolers to saddle. But that didn’t keep us from dreaming.
I had forgotten our childhood dream until last week when my junior high buddy sent me a text, “Have we officially given up on being cowboys like we dreamed of in sixth grade or is that still in play?” It’s funny what you remember even 40 years later.
Ironically, I bought a horse once. An Appaloosa actually. But not a stud stallion like Warcry—a mare—and a real headcase. My intent was never to ride her. She was going to be a broodmare. I would just breed her to make babies to sell.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about horses. I’m sure the trainer I hired thought I was also a real headcase for buying her. So after losing hundreds of dollars (and making my wife angry) I pawned her off to be someone else’s project.
I’ve had a lot of fun recollecting horse stories this week. They reminded me of moments past when I wasn’t afraid to dream. Moments of make-believe with friends that make me smile even though they might have been more fantasy than reality.
But there are also stories from my life that are less than joyous memories. Moments of regret, embarrassment, shame. Moments when I felt betrayed. Moments when I betrayed others. More moments than I want to recall writing on z winter afternoon.
A lot of the stories stuck in my mind are moments of failure. Times when I had good intention but poor execution. Dumb ideas I should have never attempted. Like when I reserved Cedar Point amusement park for an event and lost $75,000 in one day.
I have a lot of stories. And I hear a lot of stories, too. Stories of hopes that never happened. Stories of dreams that died before they took their first breath. One story after another punctuated by regrets of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.
Aren’t you glad we’re never too old to learn? Regardless if we’re talking about personal or professional life, there’s always room for improvement. But too many people never attempt to get back on the horse that bucked them off.
Others never even tried. They just believed they were too small, too young, or too weak to even try to ride that proverbial horse. So they live wondering what might have happened. And much of their remorse stems from stories stuck in their minds.
Lately, I’m trying to recall those stories because I know they have become obstacles and roadblocks for dreams and desires I refuse to let go. Dreams and desires that are going to require a different mindset if they have any chance of breathing someday.
If you stop long enough to ponder your past, you’ll find stories of discouragement and defeat. We all have them. But cataloged in between those accounts are also stories of courage and confidence. Stories when you persevered, succeeded, and overcame.
The problem is we prefer negative stories. Seriously. It’s a human instinct to listen intently and hold on tightly to tales of fear and failure. Those stories remain stuck on the deepest recess of your brain just waiting for the chance to harpoon your hopes.
Can you ever be rid of those riddles? No. Sorry. They’re permanently implanted in your mind. But you can replace them with parables of days you felt fearless. Days you rode like the wind. Because those moments are there, too, waiting to be remembered.
Stories can hold you back or propel you forward. They are more important than we understand. And since my goal is to help release your potential, I’m writing to encourage you to do the hard work. Let your hero stories overshadow the shady ones.
Did I ever ride Warcry? I did not. But Jamey’s family had other horses. And in the saddle upon those steeds is where I gained experience and resilience. So on days when I know I’ll feel less than competent and confident, those are the rides I’ll remember.
I don’t have a horse. I don’t even have a hat. But I’ve decided—I am a cowboy after all.
And I’m not afraid to dream.
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