Don't Just Horse Around! Build Yourself Up Well.

Don't Just Horse Around! Build Yourself Up Well.

As a school boy, I was in my early but serious days of horse riding. We had access to Mounted Police horses, and my riding instructor was a veteran rider. My mount – I still remember her name: Rita – was temperamental. She could bolt off suddenly or stand on her hind legs.


I needed to be on guard all the time. And when I would complain to my instructor, he would always simply smile and say, “If you learn to ride her well, you can ride any horse well, anytime and anywhere.” He would get me to cross my stirrups on the horse’s neck and get me to trot without sliding off. He would also make me mount the horse from either side without having a stirrup to help hoist me up.


The drill used to torment me then, but it had some powerful leadership lessons when I look back today.


You cannot be an ace unless you get your fundamentals right. You need to train with constraints so that challenging situations never scare you. One needs to dirty their hands before enjoying the ride.


Horse riding taught me the power of building a rapport with my horse. Her tantrums not only kept me on my toes, but they taught me to talk to her calmly and say, “No, pony! You are not throwing me off!” And the horse finally understood that she was dealing with a tough rider, and over time, she and I aligned well. She would receive my pats and rubs more generously. That also taught me – many years before I knew of HR – the power of resolve, composure and positive strokes.


Finally, it taught me the value of having a good boss, mentor and coach – someone who stretches you, pushes you to your limits, builds your confidence up and is there to ensure you are not thrown off the saddle.


Careers are not a one-trick pony. They are outcomes of tough riding schools of life experiences and humble learnings.



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Prabir Jha is the Founder and CEO of Prabir Jha People Advisory. He has been the CHRO of two Fortune 500s and two NYSE-listed Indian majors.


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