“My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened,” Mark Twain
Since it’s football season, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on my favorite team, the New England Patriots. ESPN magazine recently did an interesting story on Tom Brady. It’s hard to believe he’s had such a successful run these past few years when just over three years ago his team suffered such a disastrous loss to Kansas City that many critics said Brady should be indefinitely benched for the younger backup quarterback.
A few days later, the Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears told Brady in front of everyone in the locker room that night: “Your body language reeks of fear.” That embarrassing loss was Brady’s wake up call. He knew he needed an attitude adjustment, and he now emanates mental toughness on the field. He fixed his fear factor by working hard in the gym and studying in the film room, so he could be more confident in himself physically and mentally. He has since led his team to win two more Super Bowls.
When I look back at my photos of my last and best horse Sportie from when we first met three years ago, I can tell by the way he looks at me that he’s thinking the same thing Ivan Fears said: “Your body language reeks of fear.” He was right and he wasn’t having it. Being a predatory animal is a scary life enough without having someone hovering around you who is also scared. If I was going to have any kind of partnership with Sportie, he immediately made it very clear that I had to find some confidence and leave whatever fears I was harboring at the arena gate.
That was his gift to me, to show me that I had some heavy lifting to do physically and mentally if I was going to have the privileged position of his rider. The days I showed up with a dark cloud of fear-based what-if emotions, no matter where they came from - work, family or friends - would be the days he refused to listen to me. The days I showed up after having done my yoga to work on my calmness and fitness, or having studied several horse videos on technique and control, those would be the days he would effortlessly defer to my leadership.
Sportie always knew something that took me three years to learn: Fear stinks and it’s gotta go.