When I was a girl I often helped Dad outside in the barnyard. In fact, I’d choose nearly any chore over chores inside. Mucking stalls, loading bales, hauling chop (chopped oats), you name it. I’d happily hop in the truck with Dad and run an errand, too: pick up a load of hay, drop off a steer, etc. Plus, riding with Dad had its bonuses, namely you ride with the Candy Man you get some candy, man! 🙂
Flash forward to my corporate life today: I’m inside a lot, but I take the opportunity to get out “in the field” and in front of people as much as possible. There’s only so many spreadsheets a girl can take. I can create and run pivot tables, populate Power Point, yada yada yada, but, as I’ve blogged about before, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and experience things head on.
A situation has been brewing that I’ve been managing and monitoring; I’ve pulled in local leaders and they understand the scenario. Getting our corporate team’s attention isn’t always as easy, however. Not for any other reason than what’s concerning me isn’t blowing up their backyard, it’s blowing up mine.
On a conference call with two lawyers the other day, I sensed they weren’t getting it. So I brought up my Dad. I explained that I’d learned a lot about the work I do by observing him as a Rural Municipal rep. He navigated political situations adeptly, he was a good listener, and his quiet charm and gentle approach served him well. As a girl I tagged along to his meetings, making sure the coffee was fresh and the literature was straight. I watched and learned as he listened to others’ concerns.
Further, I explained there were certain times when Dad would enlist all 5 of us kids for help – working cattle. And one of his life lessons was to ensure we were always on the “right side of the gate.” I shared his words, “If the bull’s out, you want to be in. If the bull’s in, you want to be out.” Using this analogy, I related that I recently I’d felt like I was in the chute with a frothy mob of bulls bearing down on me and that it was up to the company to give me support as I vaulted up and over to the right side of the gate. When I added that lately I’d felt like a “rodeo clown,” they laughed and I felt Dad with me.
Me and those attorneys? They get it, we formulated a plan and I am once again on the right side of the gate.
Can you relate to this story? Have you ever found yourself on the “wrong side of the gate?” What childhood life lesson applies to your work life today?