Sep 07, 2019

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: The Mess in Message

Chasing the sky. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

There are four certainties in riding: you’re going to fall down, you’re going to get up, you’re going to succeed, you’re going to mess up. As long as you’re okay with this you’ll be okay. But if you’re afraid of failing, falling, getting up, or messing up, well there’s a pretty good chance you might feel a little less than okay. The important thing to remember is that struggles create strengths, and mistakes create messages that teach you how to improve. In other words, sometimes there’s going to be a little mess in your messages, you just need to have the courage to look past the mess and mistakes so that you can see the message they’re trying to teach you. Below is a good example of how messing up, missed opportunities, and mistakes can ultimately lead to mastery.

The Five M’s to Mastery

  • MESS UP: You forget your dressage test because you distracted yourself by worrying about the judge.
  • MISSED OPPORTUNITY: You do the same thing in your next test even though you knew better! You just forgot to pay attention to your last message.
  • MISTAKE: You do it again in your next test! You should know better by now - so now it’s a mistake because you forgot to listen to your previous two messages.
  • MINDFULNESS: In your next test you learn from the past and remind yourself to stay focused on your ride and you remember your test! Being mindful of your previous mistakes (messages) allowed you to finally succeed!
  • MASTERY: Thanks to the messages from your past (your mistakes) you never forget another dressage test!

Notice that in this example it wasn’t a mistake until you repeate it three times. The first two were learning opportunities that you either paid attention to or not. Remember, a good mistake is one that you make because you’re outside your comfort zone; one that you don’t blame on others and one that you learn from - and never repeat again! Even though it’s sometimes hard to accept, mistakes are not missed opportunities, they’re learning opportunities, as long as you’re mindful of them. Here’s another fun example I read recently.

  • MESS UP: You’re walking through a pasture. There’s a big hole in the ground. You fall into it.
  • MISSED OPPORTUNITY: You’re walking through a pasture. There’s a big hole in the ground. You know it’s there but get distracted and fall into it anyways. You should know better.
  • MISTAKE: You’re walking through a pasture. There’s a big hole in the ground. You panic because you know it’s there and fall into it again! Big mistake.
  • MINDFULNESS: You’re walking through a pasture. There’s a big hole in the ground. You walk around it.
  • MASTERY: You walk through another pasture.

In the end, always remember that the road to success is always under construction and that being mindful of the holes that can appear in front of you is the best way to avoid falling into them! Struggles create success. Mistakes create masters.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Stewart.

I hope you’re enjoying my monthly tips and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my fall or winter jumping, cross-country, or dressage clinics. This summer I taught 46 clinics in 30 cities over a span of 54 days and loved teaching each and every one! For more information on hosting a clinic with me please visit www.pressureproofacademy.com.

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