Summer Rerun: Just Call Me a Tortoise

June 24, 2016

Welcome to summer reruns! About once a month, I’ll be sharing a post from the archives. I hope you enjoy this one, from 2011.

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”Confucius

I like to apply lessons I’ve learned working with Tank and taking riding lessons to other areas of my life. One lesson I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is “It takes the time it takes,” and the corollary, “go slower to go faster.”

I’m not particularly patient. I want to get things done, and I want them done Right Now. However, especially with a horse, I’ve learned that some things absolutely cannot be rushed. They take the time they take, and you’ll be much less frustrated, not to mention safer, if you relax—and sometimes throw out entirely—your expectations. For me, when I’m learning something new (or teaching Tank something new), things go better when I take baby steps. Sometimes to my embarrassment, I’ve become the poster child for baby steps at my barn as my trainer often uses me as an example of someone who takes things slowly. I am not naturally athletic, and frankly, I’m also a big chicken, so yes, I do take things slowly. When I take a step forward too quickly, I often end up taking two steps back. What works for me in riding is breaking down every new skill into small parts, then practicing those parts until I feel completely comfortable with them. Then I can move on.

Baby steps work great for other pursuits, too: cleaning and reorganizing the house, learning to draw and paint, changing diet and exercise habits and so on. The beauty of baby steps is that if each small step is solid, you’ll find yourself making steady progress. You’ll be less likely to stagger forward then backward in fits and starts. In this way, you will go slower to go faster.

Of course, this is what works for me. Each person has his or her own best method for personal growth—my baby steps may drive some people absolutely mad with frustration. This is where you must listen to your heart for direction. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa, so please ignore this advice if you’re more like a hare than a tortoise. Few things make me crazier than to have someone tell me my way is wrong and I should do things differently!

Sometimes I get frustrated, and wish I could progress a bit faster than I do and I have to remind myself that it takes the time it takes. Overall, this slow and steady method works for me. It works for Tank, who gets anxious when he’s not sure what he’s being asked to do. We plod along, tortoise-like, but we’re going forward. And that’s what matters.

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