When I was 14 my parents swapped a car for a horse. The car was a dirty brown, early 1970s Holden we affectionately called Erg worm. The horse was a 14.3 hands high Pinto named Bo.
Dad was starting a new job that gave him a company car. I met Bo at the local riding school and fell in love. The operators of the riding school needed a vehicle for their daughter.
It was a perfect match.
My parents made the connection and gave me an opportunity to live a dream. It came with responsibility. They paid for Bo’s feed and I paid for the paddock. I cared for him, held a part time job and maintained high grades. I learnt resilience, accountability and to be resourceful. I experienced freedom, companionship and the sheer delight of being in nature.
Bo was My Best Friend
He’d been schooled as a stock horse but sold to a riding school and failed at both. He was cheeky and independent. He’d take the bit, shy at shadows and spin on dime if he wanted to go a different direction. Yet, he was always considerate. He allowed room for my legs when we passed a tree. He’d nuzzle close when I was worried or upset. If I needed time to think, he kept us on track. He also enabled my sense of adventure.
Have you every just taken a path just to see where it will lead?
That was what my childhood was like. Bo was a willing accomplice. Many times we took a trail, simply to see where it went. We discovered amazing places – beautiful wonders, far from the main trail. These were remote spaces few else saw. It was the early 1980s. There were no mobile phones, no GPS, no way of knowing exactly where we were. All we knew were the rough boundary of the National Park.
Although we were often lost, we always found our way back to the main track. If a side path beckoned, I wanted to be on it. I was inspired by what may be around the corner. Bo probably wanted a quicker way home.
If a voice of reason intruded,
“are you sure about this”
”is this a waste of time?”
It was silenced.
Curiosity and wonder were stronger than the internal nay sayer. All that was important was being alive and doing what we were born to do.
Then I Grew Up
I stopped riding and swapped stirrups for pedals. I bought a car and buried myself in the job of being an adult. Bo lived his days in peace, retired in the country. I immersed myself in the world of work. The expectations and responsibility of career and family weighed heavily. I nearly forgot who I was.
Nearly, but not quite.
You see, the world has a funny way of reminding you who you are. Random moments that inspire a hint of memory. I was teaching students how to develop their critical thinking skills and in the process, connected to my own. The catalytic moment was teaching Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. While guiding students through the nuance of each word, I realised, I wanted to take the road less traveled. Being a teacher of literature was not enough. I wanted to help people connect with their stories.
Then, I took the Clifton Strengths Finder and found clarity. I discovered my talents and it all made perfect sense. My top two talents are Strategic and Connectedness.
According to Gallup Strategic describes the ability to recognise patterns. People high in Strategic are aware of the multiple options that lead from one place to another. They quickly discard alternatives that won’t work. They find the best way through a course of action to a chosen destination. Even if they don’t know specific details, they’re confident they can make the necessary adjustments along the way. All they need is the start point and the end point to quickly formulate a plan.
Gallup refer to Connectedness as the ability to recognise the greater forces beyond what’s immediately seen or felt. People high in Connectedness intuit the things that unite us. They see, hear and feel the connections between people, places and things. They’re aware of the big picture and build bridges to span ideas, feelings and behaviours.
Recognising a Strategic Connection
As Bo and I travelled the trails of Davidson National Park my sense that there was a higher purpose gave me the courage to take different tracks. I didn’t know where they led. However I knew why I was in the bush. It was here I felt most alive. I knew where I’d come from and I knew where I were going. We explored the less travelled trails because we knew they led to the most beautiful places.
It was these childhood adventures that forged my sense of identity. As a teenager, I was connected to the natural world. I lived in the bush and felt a deep link through my horse. He was a bridge between my physical and inner worlds. Bo was a tangible friend and an intangible symbol of freedom and choice. The adventures we shared sharpened my ability to find the path. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t see the complete trail, I knew I could run scenarios in my mind, calculate parameters, account for the obstacles and trusted the path would get me there.
Bo was just over 30 when he passed – quite old for a horse. However, each evening I feel his presence. I sit at my desk. The sun settles over bush covered hills. It’s warmth nuzzles my arm as my fingers ride the key board. I look across the river and see trails of light shying across the water. I know he is close. My imagination, my stories, my resilience and my faith were strengthened by the experiences we shared.
My Parents Swapped a Car for a Horse
My parents swapped a car for a horse and in doing so gave me so much more than they ever imagined. They gave me access to the power of choice. They gave me a future filled with possibility. I discovered how to follow my dreams even when the path ahead was covered in scrub. They gave me the opportunity to develop my talents. My childhood taught me how to find my own way and “take the road less traveled”. I learnt to recognise my path and finish what I start. It taught me to enjoy the journey and be confident. I know “way leads on to way” and it is on these less traveled paths I’ll find my treasure.
What did your childhood teach you?
I ask this to encourage you to reflect on the stories of your past. You may discover a path to your self. In accessing childhood stories of wonder and curiosity, you leave behind the restrictions imposed by other people’s stories. Recognising the stories of your childhood may help you find internal inspiration.
If you’d like to become mindfully aware of your stories and move from talent to strength, contact Nicole. We offer a mindful approach to a strength based narrative. Nicole coaches you through the process of identifying your stories and distinguishing the ones that serve you from the ones that have been limiting you. We can arrange face to face coaching on the Gold Coast or in Sydney. Alternatively ask about our Skype sessions.
Call now to arrange a complimentary introduction to strengths coaching.
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